Category Archives: Lost in Translation

An ongoing challenge I seem to face. How do you communicate with someone with whom you do not share a common language?

Tower of Babel

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For those of you who have not heard this story, I will give you the briefest possible explanation.

Towards the beginning of mankind, mankind got overly proud of their own prowess and decided to build a tower to the heavens to meet God. After they reached a point that was higher than God was comfortable with, he stopped them, destroyed the building, and created hundreds of different languages for the people to speak, so they wouldn’t be able communicate with one another to rebuild it.

I have often heard this story and frequently could only hear the scientific improbabilities. And this exact thing points to the issues I created, in trying to not hear what people said about God. Looking back, I see that my goal in doing so was to NOT hear them. It was not to point out science. It actually gives a poor name to both science and faith.

If I were to alter my goal in that argument to line up with my interests, hear them, and speak truths I see in their faith, so that we can all work together, the story looks a bit different.

Let us start with the idea that this whole interaction is true. I find that no matter what faith you are in, while you don’t have to believe in the other person’s faith, it is important to know that their faith is true for them. With that, I see the story above as being very different.

It seems to me that in order for us to make sense of things, we personify everything. So, while we might have been made in God’s image, I doubt Ze* has our pettiness, frivolousness, or ignorance. What if Ze destroyed the tower and created the different languages, not to STOP people from meeting Hir* face to face, but so that we CAN meet Hir face to face.

The reality, is that God is all around us. No matter how you label Hir. God is in the air, the plants, the trees, and all the beings. What if this tower was prevented because people were under the misconception that you needed to build some remarkable tower to meet Hir. And by destroying that tower, and preventing the communication to recreate it, maybe God was reigning us back in from a humongous Red Herring? What if Ze was both, redirecting us to a helpful place, but also making ‘God’ accessible to everyone, including those who could NOT build a tower.

Food for thought.

*Ze and Hir are gender neutral ways to identify She/He and Him/Her

How do you feel so comfortable calling yourself a ‘Shaman’?

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This is a question that was asked of me by someone from within my Ayllu. This has posed an interesting question for me. Why do I feel so comfortable using the term shaman, when describing myself?

Actually, the fact is, I am not comfortable using the term shaman for myself. When I label myself as a shaman, I am doing so as much to convince myself as anyone else. But the question, “Am I a shaman?” This is something I ask myself frequently. And it keeps coming to the same. Yes, I am a shaman.  Most of the time, I feel no need, at all, to explain myself to anyone.  But in this instance, I will do so, but I think that we need to talk a bit about the dynamics of an Allyu.  It is kind of like a wolf pack.  Within this pack, you honor each other, and recognize that there is no malicious intent. This question was honestly asked, and she wanted to know. After all, I have not even completed the shamanic training for the four directions…

The long and the short of it: before I met my mentor, over 2 years ago, I had been told that I am a shaman.

The ways that I know to gauge a shaman are as follows:

Someone labels you a shaman
You actively assist your community
You actively assist individuals within your community
You interact with the local deities
You have training by spirit or by a mentor

Well, here is the crux of it.  All of the above are true.  As mentioned before, even before I found my mentor, I was named a Shaman. For almost 2 years, I have been doing work to assist my local congregation grow forward under very difficult circumstances, and almost all of this work was done while maintaining good relationships with individuals within the congregation.  Individual healings, individual work, group work, group healings, and much work on behalf of the building and land around the building to ensure prosperity. I have done a fair amount work and learning from the local spirits/deities, and I have been working with my mentor and spirit, very seriously to learn all that I can about this path, my skill set, and the tools I have available to me.

But after all of that explanation, I don’t actually care if anyone agrees with me, or feels that it is a title I should have. I actually do not want the job of a Shaman.  But I have been chosen for this path, so I will make the best of it. There is a lot of work to do within this community, as well as the greater community that I can access from my computer. And while I see this work, and feel like I can do something about it, I will.  I would also note that the questions I have been asked, and asked of myself in regards to labels, and egos, all come to the same thing.  The term Shaman is not a badge that you earn, and wear for the rest of your life.  Shamanism is a job, and you are only a shaman, while you continue to do that job. No matter whether or not I am labeled a shaman properly in everyone’s eyes or no, I will continue working with spirit, and with my mentor, and I will continue to grow as far as I can within this lifetime.

This brings up a bigger question though. Why do I feel so confident in self-labeling, when there are two females within my Ayllu, with the same level of training, and different (yet equally as strong) gifts, do not? The member of my Allyu who asked, I could see in her eyes that she didn’t understand how I could call myself a shaman, with the circumstances from her own eyes.  Identifying the privilege I hold for being male. When you are a woman, that is to be heard, you rightfully feel as if your words would be questioned without all the documentation proving you are 100% valid.  (And often despite the documentation)  I, as a male, can walk with my head high, and go with the phrase of “fake it ‘til you make it.”  My confidence is all the documentation I need to illustrate my skills.  I bring this up because I feel that this talks to an extreme problem in our society.  We are still segregating in both bold and subtle ways.  It hurts my soul to watch such a gifted and intelligent woman, afraid to help the world with her gifts, due to a deep seeded acknowledgement that she will be challenged and possibly abused for offering to help.  That a strong woman is so threatening, that she cannot help the people around her without fear of reprisal.

Earlier, I mentioned that I don’t often explain myself, and I realized something.  Taking the time, to listen to the question that was truly asked, I realized that refusing to explain myself, would talk only to the disparity in the privilege I have here.  By opening my mouth and my mind, I can talk through the reasons that she too should be feeling confident in herself. And why she too, should be calling herself a shaman.

Am I a shaman?  It doesn’t actually matter, but I am going to keep doing the work.

Love

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One of the more difficult things I have come across in my journey to become a shaman is something I call, “Translation.”  Translation is the challenge that comes up when two people come from different languages, and they are trying to communicate complicated scenarios with limited words in a shared language.  This also happens within a single language, like English, We have only a single word to describe one of the most complicated experiences in our existence.  “Love”

I thought I would try to express some of he different ways love could be described through the process of translation.

When I was speaking with my Spirit Partner, Natalia, she was trying to describe me to myself.  And she knows a word so very specific about me, she states that it is one of my true names.  But, when she tried to tell me, I couldn’t hear it.  It was too foreign and specific., my brain couldn’t understand it. So, she tried to create a word using English that would cover the same idea.  When she said it, I thought, “What did you just say? Did you claim that was English?”  Then I stopped, and thought about the complex jumble of sounds she had just made.  I thought about it, slowed it down, and realized that she said multiple words in English stacked on top of one another.  She simultaneously said:

Friend + Lover + Companion + Jerk + Smart Ass + Intelligent + Thoughtful + Capable + Caring + Connection + Magic + Teacher + Student

And I realized as I went through each word, and build a single idea from the complicated set of words, Natalia’s effort proved to be a remarkably accurate, and personal, description of me from her perspective.

I would like to use this method of translation to describe some specific ideas on how  we can feel such complicated feelings of Love, that we do not have the language for.

Love for my wife: The woman I met 18 years ago, married 10 years ago, and everyday, I chose her anew.

Trust + Friend + Stability + Intellect + Artist + Scientist + Laughter + Serious + Locator of Patterns + Research + Reader + Lover + Witty + Smile + Tears + Hardship + Challenge + Perpetual Growth + Caring + Selfless + Companionship + Choice + Teacher + Student + Stress + Passion  + Pride + Longing + Sadness + Hope + Creativity

Love for my children: The most amazing little people I have ever met, one is now 7 and other is now 4.

Pride + Growth + Strength + Creativity + Intellect + Surprise + Amazement + Responsibility + Fear + Hardship + Terror + Awe + Student + Fresh Perspective + Teacher + Self Doubt  + Excitement + Challenge + Boundaries + Health + Hope + Sadness + Giggling + Inspiration

And a Characteristic of both of the kinds of love listed above are cyclical forces.  They self perpetuate, and grow.

Love for my home:

Grand + Beautiful + Strong  + Trust + Teacher + Comfort + Struggle + Frustration + Complexity + Money + Hard Work + Rewarding + Male Gendered despite the fact everyone calls him a Queen + Safety

Love for my friends:

Companionship + Sharing + Laughing + Tear soup + Coffee Date + Running Partner + Helping Hand + Connection + Indebted + Training + Child Assist + Celebration + Frustration + Confusion + Miscommunication + Judgment + injustice

Start with the first word, and understand what it means, then think of each of the following words as a new flavor to help describe your understanding of the first word.  Let it form and shape your understanding.

The biggest downfall to this method, is that it is a Great way to describe these things from my perspective.  It is hardly a name, or a word you build, as it wouldn’t be true for someone else in a similar relationship.  Each word is unique.  As each person, and each relationship are.

I wish you all… Love.  In all forms.  Love as you can, and be loved as you can…

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Balance

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I have recently been so over… ummm, burdened? no.  Over… filled? no.  I have been so inundated  with new energy ever since we did the South work, in the progression of becoming a Shaman of the Peruvian lineage.  Now, it is not that that ceremony gave me more energy, it allowed me to see it more clearly. I can see more clearly, and definitely feel energy in new ways.

For quite some time, I have been considering the idea of how to proceed with this new energy. And while, there are ideas about how to harness it to help in “making the crops grow”, as it were, the biggest challenge I have had is controlling it.

In my everyday, I work hard to control my actions and my words to get exactly and only the results I anticipate.  (This is a rough practice where everyday I hope to fail a little bit less than the day before ~ But I am slowly getting comfortable in my skin)

For instance, if you are using a sword, if you focus on moving the back end of the handle only a quarter of an inch, you have to anticipate that with a 45″ blade, you will be moving the tip of that sword closer to 6″ in the opposite direction.  A small action can have a large consequence if you don’t plan ahead.  Now, what if you are handed a larger sword, a length you have never used, and you have to practice this 1/4 inch movement in a crowd of people.

This is the dilemma I am talking about.  I knew how to control my old energy.  Now that I perceive so much more energy, how do I limit my actions from changing things I don’t intend?  If I have my new sword that is somewhere between 80″ and 105″, how am I supposed to keep people safe from the tip, when I have to practice my movement, but cannot predict the range of the tip?

I took some time to think about this, and I realized that I needed to speak to someone about it.  How do I deal with this new energy, in a way that allows me to learn, while not harming people.

So much work has gone into cultivating the relationships with Rabbi Jesus, where I envy and would like to show the types of compassion he can, as well as Hecate.  She is somewhat cold and to the point.  Her energy is concise, and definitive, and she will lash out from time to time. There is so much in her energy that I feel makes me a better person.

How can I take these two energies, harness them to become who I most need to be, while being aware of this new perception of the immense energy I now keep with me. To be honest, this idea is really unsettling for me.  So I asked for help.

I met with our Rabbi, and she is truly as spiritual as anyone I have met.  Without a word from me, she informed me that she sees that I am concerned with how to wield my newly received energy. (Damn, she is good)  And we were able to speak about it. She informed me that in the Jewish faith, and forgive me for butchering this as I paraphrase, you will carry a good energy on your right, and a harder energy on your left.  The work is to realize that harder is not bad, or evil, just harder.  And if you could remove all of the hardship from your life, you would do nothing. Challenge is the proponent to growth.  And she compared Rabbi Jesus and Hecate as my good and challenging.  With that comparison, I need to respect both, utilize both, but find the balance for the life I wish to present.   ~What wisdom…

So, I am set forth with the challenge of finding where my compassion leads and where my boundaries need to become more apparent.  Still rough.  Last night, I spoke with my wife (another remarkably wise soul) and she pointed out the flaw in my thinking.  (And I think the Rabbi was saying it, and I wasn’t hearing it) it is not about, working with 1, until it is time to switch with another, it is about always holding compassion, even when you must hold a strong boundary.  It is about always living both.

Both of these energies were elated.  She had explained it to me in words I could here.  I need to hold my compassion, and my boundaries simultaneously, neither giving in, nor pushing away. I am a silo that interacts when I need to, and where I need to. The boundaries allow me to hold my own strength. Allow me to show infinite compassion while never being taken advantage of.  Balancing this dichotomy is the road to true strength over this energetic dilemma.

Nothing is Epic…

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Well, not in the way you expect. We live in a world where we have all read Harry Potter, watched the Lord of the Rings, heard an musician play their instruments in a way that simply makes our hearts weep.

We live in a world where the next film coming to the big screen wasn’t worth the money unless it somehow out-epics the last. We have moved our values so strongly to the giant, that the small are so undervalued as to be unnoticed.

Are you, by chance, aware that this allows us to be victims to that success? If we undervalue the subtle, we cover up the infinite world of subtlety that we have access to. And this is the network from within which we really hold power.

I have been in the martial arts since I was 7. And the best part of every action film is when the hero defies the odds and defeats an army alone to save his/her people. We all wish we could be that. But in reality, that epic moment, doesn’t exist. In fact, believing it exists, makes you not understand the subtle and accessible things you can do to prevent such an occurence.

You could train to wait for your big moment, or, you could spend time every day considering the possibilities, and putting small plans into motion here or there, to ensure such an epic fight never has to happen. It is subtle, and is with less ego, but the outcome can be even better. Instead of beating an army in an epic battle, you have shaped the world around you so there is little to no possibility of this epic battle never needing to happen. Although no one will ever see the effort you have put into it, the work of planning ahead and preventing the need for such a battle, IS EPIC.

A while ago, I posted about how the most complex magic is often the simplest. This is exactly what I mean.

Let’s say you are in charge of a building, instead of training for that epic battle, build a relationship with the local police force. Create security policies that ensure the best safety you can afford, teach your people how to handle a situation, and teach them to trust each other so they might work together. Still train for that epic battle, but hope it is a fall back. All of the effort and planning that goes into the logistical side of safety, also weaves a security blanket of will, intention, and you guessed it, magic.

Define what you want, and think of the subtle ways to achieve it, don’t spend your life waiting for something Epic.