shamanic calling

Spiritual Awakening and Illusion

When I was first going through the spiritual awakening process (I still am, but I am in a very phase than I was back then), I looked through an incredible amount of resources and went to teachers and healers of all sorts in an effort to understand what was going on with me.

I have expressed this sentiment before, but one of the greatest difficulties about my journey is that most of the world is steeped in illusion and I was breaking free from that. But even more concisely, most of the field of “spiritual studies” and “awakening” is steeped in illusion to the extent that it is far removed from the actuality of the experience.

In general, I do not mind what individuals do with themselves. If they want to call themselves a Shaman, or if they want to say that they are experiencing a Kundalini awakening when they are clearly not (and clearly know next to nothing about the actuality of either subject) that is their business.

I used to have a great deal of resentment about the above because of how hard I struggled. The sort of initiations I have had to go through, the experiences that I have had I would not wish on anyone. They have made me a clearer, more intelligent person who knows her purpose in this world… but my path has been extraordinarily difficult. I have had a lot of difficulty reconciling the fact that I have not had much choice in certain regards as to what I do for a living (for example), while other people can sort of play-act being a “shaman”; or that I cannot have what others would term a “normal” existence (whether I would want one is a much different matter), and have always thought differently than others, which in a society in which we are all expected to think similarly (standardized education and such) caused me a great deal of difficulty until I began to appreciate it (and get book deals from it, quite frankly).

This sort of upset followed me for a long time until I was able to truly accept my path and make peace with it.

Now that I am over the initial existential sort of angst that comes with having experiences that few in this world do, I have become a bit more philosophical about the subject. While the individual who states they are undergoing a kundalini awakening, or states they are (insert word here) has very little effect on me, the fact that the entirety of the “spiritual studies” sort of realm is focused on illusory awakening does.

So what is illusory awakening? Recently someone forwarded me a self-published book excerpt about how to “awaken your kundalini”. Everything in there was about how easy it was, and about how now the person had “perfect health, and was perfectly realized”. This, of course, made me laugh a bit. There are a lot of benefits to a kundalini awakening, especially when you are past a certain point, but perfect health is not one of them. You just have too much energy cycling through you and there is no such thing as perfect realization– you either continue to deepen your realizations or you become stagnant (and ego-driven/narcissistic/mentally imbalanced etc).

Illusory awakenings are all around us. They are what is talked about, basically. I am talking about the word “kundalini” a lot because it is the newest buzzword in the illusory awakening community. People feel a bit of qi/prana and think they are experiencing a kundalini awakening. They do not know what a kundalini awakening entails, but since all they know about it is that it is an intense spiritual experience (and from their worldview they either want it or think they have had it without understanding that kundalini awakenings have specific phases, signs, and symptoms) they, of course, have had one.

Basically, the illusion of awakening is the popularized, aspirational surface level thoughts of awakening that have nothing to do with the actuality of it.

The reality is that anyone going through an awakening, an actual awakening, is going to have difficulty. Whether you have had a near-death experience, kundalini, are feeling a spiritual call, felt the holy ghost, or are going through a gentler awakening… the true process is one of small “deaths”– of casting off what you are not to realize what you are. This is difficult, even when done gradually. Waking up to illusion is difficult to reconcile. Realizing that most of the world is zombified and going through the motions on auto-pilot is difficult to reconcile. There are a whole host of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual difficulties that come with any type of awakening…

But this is not what sells. 

The simple truth is that the illusion of awakening sounds great. We would all love to be these perfected, realized beings in perfect health. If we have not had spiritual experiences, the idea of having a “big awakening” sounds like a wonderful experience. If we have had any type of spiritual experience, we are likely to believe that our spiritual experiences are something truly intense, such as a kundalini awakening. And we are likely to do this out of simple ignorance– we don’t know anything about kundalini, or perhaps have read a wikipedia page about it, and have decided that we want it. That it is now part of our mythology.

And again, people are welcome to believe the myths and illusions they create about themselves.

This mythology, the illusions we create about ourselves, even about the subject of our “awakening” are yet another layer of illusion on top of all of the illusions that people should be dealing with, ironically further obscuring an awakened state, but that is another matter.

But we have a difficulty here of the fact that thousands of people are really and truly awakening. They are going through near death experiences and feel weird that all of the information out there is about how great they are, they are awake and look at the teachers and gurus who claim the same and see the illusion (and delusions), they are having a kundalini awakening and find that all of the information out there is for people who have experienced a bit of energy in their bodies that is on a pranic/qi level rather than the fierce volcano and destructive bliss that is kundalini, they are being called to be a shaman/spiritual worker and find themselves castigated and admonished because everyone in their spiritual group is a “whitelighter” who thinks like everyone else does (I have a funny story about this for another time, I suppose, but spiritual workers tend to think differently than other people do, and this is not really appreciated by most others).

The difficulty is that with all of the illusion, all that is being sold to us, all of the aspirational sorts or people who have had minimal spiritual experiences but want to feel as if they are something grand taking the labels (whether it be kundalini, witch, shaman, psychic, awake, walk-in, etc) that people truly having experiences cannot find the information that they need.

So forget the labels for a moment, forget the misguided ignorance of the individual, and focus on this.

Awakening and spiritual experiences have a specific pattern to how they are sold, they have a specific packaged look. No matter who or what subject the spiritual topic is about– if we are talking about mainstream, surface level spirituality– the spirituality that is for the masses– it is intended for a single purpose. To sell you on the fact that you need something in your life in order to be okay. To sell you on the authority of the person speaking so you don’t have to think or explore or realize on your own. They teach that there is always something external that you need to be or do that you haven’t done yet.

And more than that, they cause for people who are truly undergoing any sort of awakening to feel as if they are not okay if they are beyond these understandings. They cause confusion for people who are having a kundalini awakening and find themselves amongst other “kundalini-ites” who have no idea what the energy is actually like. They cause for people who have had near-death experiences to feel depressed that they didn’t realize that the entire universe operates on “ohm”. They cause for anyone who is truly awakening to feel out of place, to feel left behind.

Because most of the world is not going through an awakening. This is the only way that someone can sell awakening to someone– if they are not awake themselves. If you are not a shaman, witch, magical practitioner… someone who has not experienced kundalini, or Jesus, is not “awake” or has not had direct experiences of a spiritual nature… it is easy to tell others how wonderful they are, or how easy they are, or how you can have one for $99.95. It is a rarity in this world for someone with a near-death experience (for example) to talk about how much difficulty they have had “coming back”. It is a rarity for someone to truly say that awakening has brought incredible gifts and realizations but it is an incredibly fucking hard thing to do. In the sea of new-age kundalini-ites who all “want” the energy, or believe they have experienced it, it is hard to actually be experiencing it.

But again, there are thousands of us who are. Who know that there is a sharp divide between the illusion of awakening, the story of awakening that is sold to the masses who want to aspire to be and know something different… who want an experience that makes them feel special… and those of us who are in the trenches, working towards healing the major patterns and stories and lifetimes of traumas so that we can become clear. Who know that the journey is both blissful and terrible, sometimes at the same time.

What is important to realize is that if you are ready for it, you will come to the right information. The right people. The right experiences. The right teachers. It often takes a while to wade through the illusions (and delusions) out there on any spiritual subject, but if you are a person who is awakening, if you are a person of depth, it happens. People who are awakening have a light (this is actually quite literal) and are able to find one another. Put your light on and you will find your way beneath the murky waters of illusions that have populated most of the ocean to the ocean floor. You will truly find here, and you will realize, looking up, that the rest of the ocean is what it is intended to be.

Shamanism and Psychology

“Shamans were the first psychologists”- I am not sure where this exact quote came from, and there seems to be a bit of controversy over who first said it (it seems to be Stanley Krippner through rough research)

It is easy to understand how this quote was spread, and how it is believed in contemporary spiritual practice. In the United States particularly, but really anywhere in the Western Hemisphere shamanism was first brought back by anthropologists and psychologists. When these people “brought back” shamanism to the West, it was through the filter of their own understandings and training. The anthropologists saw the shamans as proverbial “other” and documented this other as something to write extensive research papers and books about (some of this work is excellent, by the way, like the books of Holger Kalweit). The difficulty with this is that many did not have the direct experience of being a shaman, they were just a documenter… and when they did have the direct experience of participating in spiritual activities of various sorts it was life-changing for many of them, but they were still lost in the sea of intellectualism and collegiate level discourse. Basically, it was from the outside looking in. 

When psychologists and mental health professionals went to study shamans and spiritual practices they also looked at it through the lens of their own experiences. To them, shamanism was created and filtered through psychotherapeutic principles, and to them the shamans looked like were working with the mind, or the mental realms. Many of these psychologists may not even have had the belief structure or openness (or readiness) to believe that there is anything outside of the Self, or anything beyond the mind and body (the classic Cartesian and allopathic split). Many of these psychologists while they met the criteria of being the “explorer” or “other” archetype in their field were struggling with their own limitations in a culture or situation that was so “other” that they were overwhelmed. Many of them had simply never experienced anything spiritual, so they just thought that it was all mental, or all metaphor, story, thoughtform creation, and guided visualization.

These psychologists then came back to their various countries and began writing, teaching workshops, and combining the tools (as they saw them) of shamanism with psychological methods with some degree of success. 

Much of modern shamanism is the simplified tools of various spiritual healers (many times misunderstood by minds perhaps that were not open enough to be able to process spiritual stimuli), combined with modern psychology, combined with easily digestible new-age self-help material, combined with enough of a shimmer of “other” so that people will think that shamanic work is mysterious and romanticized, but not too much “other” so that the average participant does not feel unsafe.

There is a basic misunderstanding here, one that is difficult at this point to expel from the public consciousness that is involved with modern shamanism.

Shamanism is not self-help. It is not a set of tools or techniques to utilize. It is not psychology.

Yes, it works with the mental realms sometimes, and does have specific and direct psychological effects. The mind-body-spirit is on a continuum, and a spiritual worker will know how to work with the spiritual and ground the work in the mental and physical realms. In fact, it is important that the client, who may or may not have any sort of spiritual abilities, be able to process spiritual work through the mental and physical realms so it effects their outer world and day-to-day reality. Yes, spiritual work works with thoughtforms that are the basis of our reality. But no, it is not psychology.

Let me explain. Shamans traverse the worlds. This is not just a saying. It is not visualization or guided imagery, it is not mentally creating something or destroying something. Shamans work in the spiritual realms. If you have never experienced the difference between something spiritual vs. something mental, chances are that you are not a spiritual worker or shaman. If you do not or cannot tell the difference between something self-created, or something that is a disassociated aspect of Self and a real live spirit or being in front of you, you are likely not a spiritual worker or shaman.

It is somewhat rare that people have real (as in actual) spiritual experiences. Most “shamans” or “shamanic practitioners” are solely in the camp of workshop shamans, meaning that they have taken a few workshops and been involved in the series of techniques handed down to them as self-help and psychological mechanisms. Many of them are not able to see past this point, or even reflect on the fact that the are solely and squarely working in the mental realms. They are not open enough and do not have the ability to see or walk into any spiritual realms. They are solely self-creating a slew of spiritual helpers, angels, demons, and allies out of aspects of themselves or from imagery of what their romanticized version of a “spirit helper” should look and act like. These spiritual helpers are often singularly compassionate, always interested in the practitioner, and will always tell the practitioner exactly what they want to hear. Real spiritual beings or helpers do not act like this… and if you are talking to your “Native American” spirit guide and he is from the 1800’s and he talks exactly like you and says exactly what you want to hear from him, chances are you made him up.

One of my favorite terms for a Shaman is “spirit lawyer”. Because that is essentially what most spiritual workers do on a daily basis. You look at the various energies, beings, and spirits coming together that are creating a situation that is not in balance, or is making your client sick (or whatever reason they are coming to you) and you work with all of them so they get what they want. In some cases, you create a contract or pact that all of the energies agree to, even if they do not all get exactly what they want. This is most of spiritual work, to tell you the truth.

The mental realms do play an important role in this. Many people block themselves from healing, they are creating thoughtforms or stories that continually play out in their lives. Working within the mental realms, with shamanic “tools” vis a vi psychological self-help shamanic practitioner-ing is helpful for these people.

But it is not spiritual work. The spiritual realms are entirely different than mentally creating a journey, or creating thoughtforms. Meeting with actual spirits and beings is much different than working with ones that you create. True shamans are rare, and we have created a climate where pop psychologists and self-help manuals teach you that you can “be your own shaman”, where we are taught that anyone with X amount of dollars can purchase becoming a shamanic practitioner.

It is unfortunate, because true spiritual work is beautiful, and it is powerful. It is unfortunate because I get clients who have gone to psychological self-help type shamans who only have the capabilities to work in the mental realms with them when what they needed was actual spiritual work. If I get a client that is mentally unwell to the point where they cannot receive spiritual work, I will send them to a psychologist first (or in conjunction). Unfortunately most “shamanic practitioners” do not know that they do not know… which leads to a culture of people playing shaman because they have taken classes without the ability to do much, which ordinarily wouldn’t be a big deal, except for the fact that it is costing their clients a lot of money, and a lot of people in this world really need spiritual work and cannot find someone to truly help them.

Without direct experience of the spiritual realms most people will not realize this, however. Unless you are experiencing the call of becoming a spiritual worker and are directly experiencing other realms, dimensions, worlds, and are being visited by energies and beings of various sorts I realize that it is quite easy to believe that the mental realms are the spiritual realms. If the mental realms are all you know, or what you have gotten a degree in, and you see something that looks vaguely like what you have studied, it is easy to think you can just lift the tools off of whatever culture and sell it as “spiritual”, and it is easy to think that all of the spiritual world(s) are self-created out of your imagination, and can be worked with through your imagination.

But they are not. And the more that we participate in spiritual materialism, this idea that anyone can do whatever they want simply because they have enough cash and they really, really want it, the more we are participating in creating illusory thoughtforms and creating realities in the mental realms that are simply not there. Not everyone has the genetic capabilities to be a major (or minor) league baseball player. Not everyone has the ability to be a spiritual worker. Not everyone has the capability to be a pre-school teacher, an artist, or any of the multitude of careers and callings where it takes natural abilities and genetic predisposition and natural talent/calling to become. But we all can find out what we are being called to do, and become that. We are all called to do something in this world spiritually, it just might not be a calling to be a spiritual worker (and if you are not being called, and actually knew what it was like instead of the romanticized version that has been sold to you… you will likely be very thankful).

People being called to spiritual work experience things on a regular basis that they cannot turn off after a workshop, that they cannot play with for their own self-help purposes and then let go when something else more pressing comes up. They have intense dreams such as dismemberment dreams, near-death experiences, and constant initiations by the spiritual realms so they can learn. It can be terrifying to open spiritual doors and truly work with the spiritual realms. It is not the safe, cuddly experience that is being sold. Spiritual work is not a part time job… it is not a series of techniques… and it is not something that anyone can do.

There is a degree of openness, there is a calling. Being called to be a spiritual worker is a strange, powerful thing. It is difficult, it is traumatic, and most spiritual workers do not find “tribes” of people to connect with at new-age seminars. They are isolated by society because they are different, they see differently, and they experience the world differently. And most people, despite their interest in energy work, shamanism, or spiritual topics, and despite the fact that in many countries we are far away from spiritual workers being burned at the stake or hunted (unlike our ancestors if spiritual work runs in our family line which for many if not most it does) we are still castigated, relegated to the outskirts of society.

If you are reading this and are angry at me for posting this, it is fine. One of the strangest things I have found in my journey is that “the grass is always greener” syndrome always applies. People being called to shamanic/spiritual work often go through a period of time of anger, or “why me”, of rejecting and resisting the call to become a spiritual worker… sometimes to the point of becoming quite ill because they are not answering the call. Spiritual workers who are called cannot do anything else with their lives, even if they try. People who are not spiritual workers and are looking for that romanticized “other”, they are looking for the pop psychological versions and tools of shamanism to fill an empty voids in their lives want to become shamans. They think they are shamans. They do not realize that what many of them are experiencing is a pale shadow of what actual spiritual work is, and that they are solely working with this pale shadow, this series of techniques, and solely in the mental realms, when there is so much more out there. 

And just for clarity, I do see the purpose of the new-age pop-psychology shamanic “be your own shaman” crowd. We have a spiritual void in the West that we are desperately trying to fill. I have no issue with people going to shamanic seminars for self-help or using the “tools” in their psychological practices. The difficulty here is that sometimes people need real spiritual work, and a real spiritual worker to do it, and many of these people go from practitioner to practitioner because they know what is going on is spiritual and all they get is self-help mental realm type help (if that) from people who have taken these assorted workshops and learned the self-help techniques and are now calling themselves shamans or spiritual workers.

But the biggest difficulty is that spiritual workers who are being called have nowhere to turn. They go to these workshops and meet these teachers and they are all for aspirational shamans, people who lack the abilities and calling but want some techniques to make their lives better. They are unable to answer the call because they are left with hollow techniques and pop psychology self-help. They are overwhelmed by the strange dreams, the amount of spirits surrounding them, and are uncertain if they should talk about things because what they experience is far beyond what any sort of message board or Facebook group knows about or can help them with.

 

Spiritual Advice: Psychic Ability to Predict Death

Mary-

I found your site because I wanted to know more about how I can sense death in people. Sometimes I look at people in the market and I see some of them that are going to die. Sometimes I will even sense how it will happen like a guy I saw I knew he was going to get in a car crash.

Another time I saw a woman who was pregnant and I knew that she was going to miscarry the child. It is awful to realize these things. Most of the time they are about people that I don’t know and just see around town, but sometimes I realize that a friend is going to get sick, or one time I realized my cousin was going to die. I would think it was just my imagination, but my cousin did actually die and the feelings I get when I realize these things are really intense. For example I will get a headache or feel dread or even a few times would see how the person would die. But most of the time I just feel kind of sick and it is like a big realization that I just can’t shake.

Can you tell me what this all means? What do I do about this? I can’t imagine I go up to people and tell them that they are going to die. That would just be weird. How do I not get upset about this too? I don’t think I want to block things, but they do make me not feel well. If you could reply it would be really, really helpful.

– Seer of Death

Hi Seer-

So what this ability is called is precognition. It is typically under the umbrella of claircognition. Claircognition means “clear knowing”. It is our gut instinct, that sort of intuition that mothers get when their children are in trouble. It is our sense of knowing something without knowing why. Claircognition is actually the most common psychic ability, but is often dismissed because we live in a culture that dismisses that quiet voice inside, that sense of knowing that emerges. Most of us are quite dismissive of any sort of information that pops up without us having a context for it, a narrative, a story, or some sort of linear logic from our brains/ego telling us that the information is valid and okay.

This sense of knowing, this claircognition, can be a small sense of knowing that we should turn right instead of left down a street, only to find out that there was a traffic accident that would have made us late to our appointment if we had turned left. It can also be a huge sense of knowing, accompanied by dread and chills and becoming physically ill with realizing that there are going to be layoffs at our company, that something bad is going to happen to us (and we don’t know what, but we just have this realization), or that a pet, family member, or complete stranger is going to die.

Just so this doesn’t seem all gloomy (before I go on to the death part), claircognition is an incredibly useful ability to have. We can know if our children are okay, how that test is going to go, what job we should take, if that boy/girl/man/woman is right for us, and get a general sense of environment. For example, if we listen to our claircognition we may pick up that the bar we are at, the subway car we are in, or the street we are walking down is not safe. We may not know why, but this sense of knowing causes us to walk down another street, to leave the bar, or to move on the subway. Most of us do this behavior unconsciously– our claircognitive skills are not conscious so we want to leave the bar, or the train, or walk quicker down the street (or change streets) without knowing why. 

But some of us become conscious of our claircognition and utilize it to our advantage. We begin to listen to our gut instinct, to acknowledge it, and to even express gratitude for it giving us information. Again, most of us do not listen to what our instincts are telling us… we have become disconnected from them because we are either looking for something crassly linear and double-blind study logical (typically meaning told to us by others or given to us by others) or we are looking for huge explosions of psychic abilities, such as the media portrays clairvoyance (clear seeing). By acknowledging this ability and listening to it we can become better people more in line with who we truly are.

It is important to understand that society at large is not in a sensing or feeling state, so others (even those interested in spiritual matters) are likely to disregard your experiences that come from this feeling or sensing state. This comes from an ego state of always wanting that hugely splashy thing or “valid” linear scientific double-blind study type proof. If we listen to others who are not capable or comfortable with being in a state of sensing or feeling, we often disregard our own experiences and understandings. It is important not to do so in an attempt to seek outer acceptance of abilities such as this.

To acknowledge and grow your claircognition is simple: you acknowledge what is coming up (I should move subway cars), sit with it for a moment to feel if it is valid or not (by asking your gut, not your head)… when you hear a “yes” you act on that action by moving subway cars (for example). Then say “thank you” to that information, to your gut instinct for telling you this information. If it is a huge move, such as getting a divorce or moving to another country, you can still acknowledge what is coming up but sit with it for a while longer before making a move or drastic life change. Even acknowledging that this information is coming up and saying a simple “thank you” to it without changing anything in your physical reality will allow for you to gradually understand how powerful this ability actually is.

Now, on to precognition. Precognition, as I mentioned, is somewhat of a child of claircognition, typically. This means that you will realize that something will happen in the future without knowing why. This can be all sorts of information, from realizing you will get that job you just interviewed for to realizing you are going to move in the next six months to realizing that two weeks from now you are going to be sick. Many sensitives, for example, with this ability, schedule their work around the fact that they realize when they will be at full power, or have the ability to work a lot, and when they need a break or even bed rest.

A type of precognition is the ability to see or sense death. This can be sort of a vague sense of knowing to full clairvoyant (seeing) abilities of seeing a stranger in the grocery store die in a fiery crash in the near future. This can be difficult information to process, and the sensitive who sees it may experience headaches, nausea, stomach issues, or emotional imbalances from seeing so much death around them. It also can understandably be a bit of a perpetual existential crisis to have this ability, to want to get rid of it, to not know what to do about it, or to have this ability call up our own fears around death. It is also a huge difficulty for some people who are especially sensitive with this ability to have to process the energy and the death of the person through their physical body.

I should note that it is most common to see death at or around two weeks before the physical death. Our spiritual bodies are preparing (or trying to prepare) for what is going to occur in the near future, and in most cases (not all, some sudden deaths are not like this) sensitives are sensing the fact that the energy bodies are lifting off of the body towards the top of the head (typically) near death, or that there is a grey or dark cast/hue around the person who is going to die suddenly.

So the question is always what to do about this ability. It is an understandable question, and I have personally grappled with seeing a lot of things that I cannot or should not do anything about. In our modern culture (media portrayals such as Ghost Whisperer and Long Island Medium) we see “mediums” (yes, I put that in quotes for a reason) walking up to random strangers and telling them that their dead grandmother is with them. I have personally had people walk up to me and try to read me. It deeply bothers me when this happens. First off, because it is always the person that has the least amount of sensitivities (as in, not very psychic at all or perhaps went to a psychic school and got a certificate which means they are, of course, now psychic) who tell me things that are often not correct, are from conversation they overheard, or are so basic that they are more cold reading (a sort of psychological ability to read body language, faces, or just utilizing really basic generalized info that could apply to anyone) in order to appear special.

It is ethically wrong to tell someone that they are going to die, or to tell them any sort of psychic information that you are picking up about them. The only way that it is okay is if they are paying you, or coming to you for guidance, and you deeply question if they really want to know or can hear (as in process) the information you are picking up about them. 

The other thing to know about the ability to see death is that it is not 100 percent. Meaning you could be wrong, meaning that you could be reading someone else in the store instead (their death) and cross a few wires and have it be about another person by mistake, you could be having an off day or so overwhelmed by stuff going on in your own life or that there is so much death in the air (it happens) that you can sense it with everyone. That person you are picking up information about could also turn left instead of right by some miracle and not get in that car crash you sense them in. It happens.

So my point is here that you do not do anything about the information. You do not tell them. Maybe you choose not to get in a car with them (for example) but telling them is ethically wrong for a variety of reasons.

So the question here is what do you do about this ability… or “Why do I have it?” This is something of a difficult question, and depends on the individual. You may have it simply because you do… you are sensitive and you pick up on more information than people around you. Death is actually fairly easy to pick up on as long as you don’t have blinders on (many people refuse to process any information about death or “darkness” because it is not “light” and they have a deep fear about their own inevitable death). Death is part of our world, and picking up when someone has two weeks left (or so, not an exact science) or the sort of cast or shadow that happens when someone is likely to die suddenly is not super far left-field… meaning that it is fairly easy to see.

Some of us have had experiences with death that make us more prone to see it in the people around us. We are comfortable with death, or we have had some sort of trauma involving death that allows for us (as people who are already likely sensitive) to be more in tune with that energy. Some of us have had near death experiences that have allowed for us to see death in those around us.

Some of us are intended to be spiritual workers and actually do something with this information. Some spiritual workers can see the “death mask” on everyone. Our “death mask” is what we will look like in death, and often contains information about how long we have left, what we will die of/from, and so forth. Other spiritual workers can see the inner light of a person (like a candle) and see how brightly it shines. If it shines more brightly, that means the person has more life left in them. The spiritual workers who can see this are often (not always) good at psychopomp– which is helping people spiritually cross over out of their physical body (move out of their physical body after death) as well as from their spirit form into the proverbial light.

Some of us are intended to be nurses, hospice workers, or others who work with death and the dying process.

Some of us are intended to utilize our relationship with death to create fantastic pieces of art and beauty in this world.

But most of us are not intended to do anything with this information simply because we see it. You are just more sensitive, for whatever reason, and your sensitivities are allowing you to notice death.

What is needed though is to let go of the intense emotions, fear, and physical issues (as well as existential crises) that come with this ability. You do this by reconciling your personal fears around death, any trauma you may have experienced with death, and most importantly you go into a state of noticing rather than reaction to receiving any sort of psychic input. By going to a state of noticing, rather than taking the energy on (which makes you physically and emotionally ill) or processing it (this does not! need to happen), you can become much healthier, more sane, and react neutrally to seeing these sorts of things.

Working with Darkness and Evil

One of the most profound understandings that I have had in the course of my spiritual awakening is that if we do not have direct experience of something, we are rarely able to understand or be open to that experience or understanding. This is true even if we have an intellectual understanding of something… when we have an intellectual understanding of something there is a part of ourselves that can still rationalize it, can keep it as a sort of fiction or illusion…and as something that will not or could not happen to us.

Quite simply, if we have not experienced something, we have difficulty imagining it or believing it to be real, and we are more likely to negate the experiences of others who have had experiences we have not.

This is true across the board, whether it be white people commenting about racism, rich people commenting on the finances of the poor, or people who lack an in-depth spiritual culture commoditizing and appropriating other cultures and not seeing what the problem is in doing so is.

This is especially true when it comes to the subject of darkness and evil. In spiritual and new-age communities there is a rampant ideology that there is no such thing as evil… and that you simply have to think positive, or put white light into darkness to transmute it. While thinking positively certainly helps certain situations (unless you are doing so to ignore anything “not positive” and sticking your head in the proverbial sand) it is unlikely that any of the people with these ideologies have experienced true darkness and/or evil. Because if they had, they would have to acknowledge the darkness within themselves as well as the darkness in the outer world.

I used to get angry about this… about hearing about people saying that you “just don’t have to believe in curses and they will go away” or that if there was a truly evil presence in a household that they “just have to sage or think positively or imagine white light” for it to go away. This talk, ironically, was and is always done with a sort of victim-blaming mentality. That if someone experienced something dark, or evil, that it was somehow their fault. That if they couldn’t get rid of something they weren’t trying hard enough, weren’t positive enough… were somehow not enough. 

After much reflection over the years I have realized that the types of people who think this way really need to think this way. That way they feel like they have control. They feel safe. There are entire spiritual groups, such as the core shamanic group, that cater to this thinking… telling people that the “middle world” (our world, where we go about our daily existences and have our physical bodies) is unsafe, but if they travel to the “upper” or “lower” worlds nothing will harm them ever.

This began to help me feel compassionate towards these people. They just really didn’t know any better. They wanted to remain on the surface of things, in a state of spiritual immaturity, in order to hold onto illusory understandings of safety and control. If you create your spiritual experiences or if you have them on an intellectual level you can have control over them. If you go beyond this, you have to open your mind, your cosmology, and move away from the spiritual immaturity that has been cultivated by you in order to maintain the illusion that you are safe and in control with all of your spiritual experiences.

There are people who I have met who are static in their spiritual growth because they do not wish to move beyond this spiritual immaturity– people who have taken all of the workshops, read all the books, and have been on a path for decades. Acknowledging that we do not have control over the cosmos, and allowing ourselves to open to the understanding that there are different cosmologies, spirits, and energies beyond our own will allow for us to transcend these illusions and deepen our experiences beyond the surface level.

I lately have been understanding the power of direct experience. Some of us have experienced darkness and evil in our lives, have been victimized, brutalized, or simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Some of us genetically have a lot of darkness in our lineage. This darkness, the direct experience of darkness being in our lives or encountering evil makes us have the understanding that there is likely darkness and evil in other places and with other people.

As spiritual practitioners, or simply people on a serious spiritual path, we will come across a lot of darkness. This may be our own darkness, or we may be faced with a situation or experience that has us question our own cosmology, our own safety, and brings us into a state of fear.

We may not only be presented with darkness but have the direct experience of evil. This type of energy may be way beyond our understanding level. We may come across situations, energies, beings, or places that emanate this sort of evil that we simply cannot do anything about, nor should we. The realization that there is not only darkness in this world but also evil is often shattering to our belief systems…to the constructs we have created to make us feel safe, to feel in control.

If we have faced that darkness, or evil, if we are on a spiritual path or are a spiritual practitioner we may find ourselves in a position to work with it (or at least some of it). We neglect our own darkness, and we neglect outer darkness. Spirituality has become very new-age “love and light” and has lost its sense of innate balance. Anything dark has become “shadow” and something that needs to be transmuted into light, or cleared. And while we can certainly reconcile our inner trauma, become more whole… we are intended to have darkness within us. There is a beauty in the dark.

By learning about and working with our own darkness we can find the beauty in it. The power. We no longer need to fear it, or fear the larger spiritual community telling us we are “bad” for being dark workers or understanding and appreciating our darkness. We can come to a point of deeply understanding ourselves– dark and light.

The world at large is intended to be in a state of balance. As I progress in my spiritual work I am less concerned with if something is “dark” or “light” but rather if it is in a state of balance. I have learned to be compassionate and non-judgmental of all beings and energies. I do not automatically fear even the darkest, or most “evil” things that I run across and am not antagonistic towards any energy or being that I may encounter. My purpose is to help balance and to put things in their right place. Not to operate from a sense of “oh you are dark and so you should get banished or hurt” but an understanding of that even the darkest beings need compassion and understanding. Especially the darker beings need understanding. And the darkest aspects of myself need love and understanding– not to be “cleared” or “transmuted” or treated like they are a shadow… but to be truly loved and held for their own special beauty and power.

I know that experiencing darkness, or even evil, can be really traumatic. For those of us on the spiritual path it can be an initiation if we let it be. We can understand more about ourselves, more about the world, more about divinity. In experiencing darkness we know that the capability for darkness is present. We can see it, we can sense it, and for some of us, we begin to attract it so we can work with it. We can begin to look at and embrace the darker aspects of ourselves as a source of power. We can move beyond the surface layer constructs and spiritual immaturity and be not only “light workers” or “dark workers” but simply balancers… with the tools and capabilities to look at things with clarity and find out what, and who, in this Universe really needs rebalancing.

Learning how to work with darkness, learning how to work to do “dark work” is beginning to be a lost art. We have become deeply antagonistic and fearful towards anything that is not the brightest shade of white, or anything that is not self-created out of our own cosmologies. I help people who are ready to move on beyond this surface level reality to gather tools and understandings to work with their own darkness, as well as the darkness in the world (if they are called to do so). You can contact me with interest.

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.