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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!

Everyday Shamanism

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Sitting down to read my book the other night, and my wife and I get into a brief conversation about tidying the house. This is not my favorite topic as it seems like a setting a goal that you are destined to fail… (And this isn’t just pessimism, this is something that I have set a goal on, and failed at many times over)

This topic was brought on by a book she hi-jacked from her mothers dining room table called: “the life-changing magic of tidying up, the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing” by Marie Kondo.

Through-out the evening, post our initial conversation, she starts spouting random phrases from within the book. She was clearly taking too much glee in this… However, the more she reads out loud, the more interested I am getting.

I looked over and said, “She is talking about Shamanism. Everyday Shamanism.”

And when I realized that that statement didn’t make as much sense to her, as it did to me, I had a great idea for a blog post…. 😉

Basically, this book talks about tidying your home as a microcosm for using shamanism in your community.

Page 4: “[W]hen you put your house in order, you put your affairs and your past in order, too”

The inter-connectivity of all energy. The ability for a single person or item in your community that is energetically disruptive, will affect that of the whole. And it is rarely something so obvious as a blatant, or intentional disruption. It is usually something more subtle. By working to organize and put into order, the overall process your community follows, allows people and energy that would naturally go against the grain, to find their purchase and start going with the flow. By offering structure to people, you offer them a way to more easily find their own way of walking forward. But then it goes further. It talks about energy in a sequential path. It talks about how the connectivity of an energetic body (a person or a community) is directly connect to its past, and by clearing the present of excess, you are opening access to the past in a way that is more clear.

Page 23: “Putting things away creates the illusion that the clutter problem has been solved.”

A large problem I see in the society at large is that we like to avoid the problem. And I am not pointing fingers, we all (including me) do this. It is much easier to find a reason to not face the problem head on, so we brush it off to the side. And in the moment, we feel good about having dealt with it. Until the problem becomes apparent again, usually compounded. Ms. Kondo talks about how storage can be dangerous to tidying. Well, as mentioned to me recently by our wonderful Rabbi, “we do people a real disservice by not being straight forward with them, and identifying a problem.” By addressing the problem now, you are not only taking care of it, you are releasing the energy that would be pent up in that particular dilemma, and nudging the source of the problem to be aware enough to not repeat it. Whether it is an item in your hamper, a book on your shelf, or a person in your community. You do them a true disservice by delaying a difficult choice.

Page 41: “take each item in one’s hand and ask: “Does this spark Joy?” If it does, keep it, if not, dispose of it.”

Wow. I hardly need to speak on this one. She is talking about tidying, I could say that about energy or a person in your community. (Outside of the whole, “in one’s hand”) When you are doing your best to physically, and energetically change the world around you for the betterment of that community… You have to look at each thing you are working with deeply. This means you cannot just “judge the book by it’s cover”, you have to look at it truly. See the energy it has, feel that energy. Find the complicated nuances around it, and decide how it works with or against the purpose. And decide, individually, how they can be utilized. And take the time to sense, feel, and let yourself respond.

But I think the piece that is much more important about this statement is: trust your own feelings. Trust yourself. Do not let ego stand in your way, do not let pride change your views, just listen to your intuition, and trust.

Page 190: “In essence, tidying ought to be the act of restoring balance among people, their possessions, and the house they live in.”

When you are working for the betterment of your community, you have to realize that the effort you put, the difficult and challenging choices you make, are for the purpose of restoring balance overall. Every individual task you make, be it calling a senator, casting the runes, praying to a Goddess, or forcing your will onto something else, come from the pretense that you clearing the way for the true balance to be restored. This is exactly why you cannot force things based on how you think they should be. You need to trust that you do not know all, and that you only listen to your inner voice, and move forward with your best intention. I have found that restoring balance is a challenge because my perception of balance, might not be accurate. I have to move forward to shape the community to be better for what the community needs to be, not moving forward to shape the community into what I think it should be.

I have not yet read most of this book. But I strongly recommend that you pick up a copy, read it, and think about how this out look can be linked to how you can change the world around you. How this microcosm is really a sampling of everyday shamanism.

Marie Kondo. “the life-changing magic of tidying up” . Ten Speed Press Publishing 2014.