Learning about myself through my Addiction/Greed Khuya

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In the beginning of the south work (We work the four directions on this path), we select three stones to make friends out of.  Each of these stones are used with a specific emotion, feeling, or terrible problem.

In this post, I would like to discuss my Granite Khuya.  This is a stone I got from the ashes of our first ceremonial fire I attended with my mentor.  I connected this stone, in my mind, with Pachamama. (Which is Qechua for Mother Earth.)

To create this Khuya, I needed to find something in my past, inside me, that illustrated Greed or Addiction.

I am happy to say that I couldn’t find much in my character (Where I am now, at least) that I can attribute to Greed.  Addiction wasn’t much easier to locate.  And I thought about how I had had a hard time giving up Soda a few years ago. (And in fact, I still drink it on road trips, when we eat out, and from time to time otherwise.)

After we spent time thinking about this, we needed to sit around, and speak about our issues with our Wyna Allyu (Small Group), and mentor.  Upon hearing my unsure suggestion at a soda addiction, Jim was like, ummm, no.  That is not it.  Can you not think of anything that is a bit truer?  And I couldn’t.  I truly couldn’t see it.

He said, do you not see that you have an addiction to Data? He then began to enumerate, from just the seemingly few interactions we had had, all of the ways that I would become obsessed with knowing ‘all the things’ about any topic.

I had never considered this as an addiction, but as he spoke through some of the examples, I really saw the possibility.

From there, we were given a more difficult task.  We were to take a walk.  And the point of this walk was to spend time, in nature, almost in meditation, while thinking about our addictions. I guess that statement doesn’t do this justice.  It was to focus so hard on the individual issues that you are able to locate the source, the point in your past from where this addiction came.  The challenge here was really to go through and find the worst parts of yourself, and explore them in broad daylight, and without being able to close your eyes, or point at someone else.  This was the truest experience of staring into the worst of myself, and finding the root cause.

With the other two Khuya I created during this time, it was EASY to find those things, and work to their source.  (Easy in the sense of how vivid they were in memory, not actually digging in, that was terrible) This particular thing, an addiction to data, was one that I wasn’t going to question when Jim brought it up, but at that time, I really didn’t see it.  I saw how it could completely be true, but not how it was.  Nor could I really see the dangers in such an addiction.  And here is the answer, and perhaps this is true with all addictions, and I am just unaware.  It is insidious.  It is subtle. You are completely unaware of it, until it explodes in your face, and then you are stuck in a place where an unbelievable effort is required to extricate yourself, and a lifetime of ongoing work to keep yourself free of it.

I think it is important to know that I get into a job, any job, and immediately start looking for the ways to improve it. How can I do this job better?  And after a bit of effort, I master the job, find the best paths to walk, and the best shortcuts I can take to make it more efficient.  Then I get bored.  I start taking on the other tasks to fill my time.  And then, all the tasks are done, and I get bored. The average job would be exciting for about 2 months.

In fact, working in computers has been so amazing because every time I learn one thing, I hear of five more that I had never even seen before.  I took me a long time to get bored.  This job really held me for about 10 years.  But I still fall back into, what can I do, to learn more, to make this interesting.  I am not saying I know everything with computers.  I have learned a large amount about the parts I can make myself care about, and those are ones I have been working on for 15 years.  Anyway, the point of the matter is, I look for stuff to learn outside of work.  I have taken up, Martial arts, running, Archery, Violin, Board work for my church, giving sermons, teaching, reading, writing, blogging, weight lifting, Astro Physics, Quantum Physics, and studying about spirituality, religion… I wish the list stopped there.

And I don’t know of any sane person that says learning is a bad thing, but the problem with almost any addiction isn’t that the thing itself is bad. I mean, you can have a drink, and not be an alcoholic. My addiction was disrupting the balance of my life, and I didn’t see it.

I kept complaining about how I felt that there wasn’t enough time for anything, I was too stressed, too much going on, anything was just one more thing.  In fact, I still feel this way, but a friend pointed out that it comes from being too fragmented.

I am a father, a husband, an uncle, a guardian, a martial artist, a programmer, a manager, a leader, a speaker, a blogger, a runner, a president, a congregant, a teammate, a friend, a lover, a shaman, a problem, a physicist, an educator, a student, a hunter, a protector, and an artist.

While I often shift which has the highest priority; father, and husband, are always on top. But it is not always easy to see that.  Anyway, he pointed this out, and I had never seen it before. These are not just roles that everyone has, these are the culmination of the damage that my addiction to data has brought me.  And as I see it, I have to separate each and every one of my roles and then re-evaluate its individual value in my life to keep myself sane while figuring out how to curb the addiction.
After I have evaluated it, I can then attempt to find a way to bring it back into my life, in a way the suits my current goals moving forward.  If it doesn’t fit, then it should be shelved.

The best metaphor I can come up with is to look at the pile of dominos on the floor, and pick up each one, and then stacking them sequentially on their heads.

They will inevitably fall down again at some point.  But this will be a job of finding balance and a firm grounding on which to build my track.

And while I am always shocked when these rambling posts come to a point, this one brings me back to balance.  Which I think is what all of this work is about.  Finding the places in your life that are so far off the “bell-curve” that even the outliers’ call them outliers, and bringing them back in to balance with the rest of you.  The first step is seeing the problem.

Reader Question #2

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What [does] opening up to spirit/guides/power animals feels like? [This is a part of the entire question, but  I will answer the rest on another post]

This question has really had me thinking hard, to find the right words, please let me know if this answers the portion of the question listed above. (If you would like your name to remain anonymous, feel free to email me directly)

Let’s as assume that we have the capacity to see black, and white.  Not gradients, not shades of gray, just Black, and White.  You don’t think of it as strange; however, everyone around you can also only recognize black and white.

Now, in opening myself up to my spirit partner, Natalia, let us say she introduces a beautiful shade of cerulean.   I can now see it, but it doesn’t fit with the world I know, as I have only ever seen black and white.  Now I have this new thing.  This new color to see, and I am so overjoyed about he beauty and how it is such a drastic change from the way I had seen before.  But how do you describe cerulean to someone who has never seen anything more than Black and White?  Finding the words to describe it becomes the ultimate challenge.

How do you describe a sunset or an eclipse to a person who has never had sight?  There are no words to describe the detail, or the feeling of beauty it conveys to you.

To continue on with this metaphor, imagine a new color of some subtle and perfect shade for every spirit I have learned to work with.  Eliseo (Dusky Gray), Aeiulli (Royal Blue ~ actually more of an ombre affect from Royal to Periwinkle), Michael (a Silvery White), Luz (Burnt Sienna), Isabel (Buttercup), Hecate (Jet), Rabbi Jesus (Linen), Tatiana (Burnt Orange), Oliver (Chocolate Brown), Timber wolf (Emerald)

Each spirit adds a new vivid color.  Now, to answer your question more fully, Imagine the challenge that is added to describing these wonders to a person who cannot make time to hear your attempts to explain…  With our fast-paced, chaotic society, it is easier to see only black and white, as there is no time to hear about this thing you call blue.

How can you convince someone to make the time to see a beautiful truth, when they are so concerned about picking up their dry cleaning before the shop closes in 15 minutes.

So I would illustrate the feeling as cherishing a beauty that is indescribable, and infuriating because no one can make the time to hear you find the words for your experience.

Reaching Out

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I am both honored and burdened by the moniker of Torchbearer. Any name given by spirit is an honor. Having a direction handed to you, is an honor. The burden really comes from defining your community.  You see, a Shaman cannot exist without a community to support. I have chosen my little congregation in the middle of small-town Michigan; however, it is becoming more and more clear to me that my community is everywhere I can reach from my keyboard.  As I am a programmer, I am reasonably tech-savvy, and I can connect to people all over the world.  The Internet appears to be the community my path leads me to. (yeah, no pressure at all, heh?)

How could I possibly reach out to this huge community when I cannot shape the conversation as I normally would?

Oddly enough, as that fear comes out, in question form, I see several truths in it.

I need to see my personal fear as it comes out.
I need to accept that I have never truly had control.
I need to acknowledge that I know the answer to this question.

Be true, be honest, most importantly with yourself.  Don’t be afraid to show the true you.  And those in need, will find you.

With that said, I would like to declare my intention to the Internet Community.

A Torchbearer is someone who guides you from the place of darkness to the beginning of your path. My goal is to help you find where you need to be.

I am available to people who find that they have gifts and either;
Don’t know what to do with them,
Don’t know where to go from here,
Are scared to experience the gifts,
Or see these gifts as being in conflict with their faith.

Please reach out to me.  If this is you, it is my task to help.

Contact Me

Giveth and Taketh Away

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Gray Timber Wolf.

My third spirit animal has been quite elusive. She shows up from time to time so I know She is still there, but always from a far.

From the moment I learned about Her (which, in itself, felt as if it happened before She was ready, and it was definitely by accident) I understood that there was some extra work I needed to do in order to know Her.  Maybe even to prove my credibility in order to know Her. I felt such a longing for this energy that is a part of me, yet I do not have access.

And finally, we spoke. I felt the connection, and with that last piece in place I felt whole. And for the first time, I learned her name.

I slept well that night, and when I woke, although desperately scrambling to recall it, I couldn’t’ find Her name.


It is like I have the essence of the name, but not the word to perfectly fit.  And then I heard Her voice. “I took it back from you.”

“Why?” I asked in utter perplexity.

“You are not Ready.  Make a connection with the tribe, then I will give it back to you.” She said.

*For those of you who do not know, I live in Traverse City, MI, and there is a reservation nearby.  But this “quest” (for lack of a better term) is a different story.

She gave me this challenge, not as a ‘condition to Her affection’, but as a tool I can use to identify my own readiness. (And I did not realize this myself, until I wrote it here)

Where does this stand now? There has been almost no contact for over a year, I almost forgot She was still with me.


I was driving home from a trip down state. The fog was thick, and I was driving 10 miles per hour below the speed limit.  As I came over a slight hill, I saw a place where I went into a small valley between two hills.  There was an eerie line I crossed where I went below the fog between these two hills.  And into the center of the road, walked a very large timber wolf.  My Timber Wolf.  I had NEVER seen one in person before.  I started to slow down as to not hit Her, and she turned, looked me in the eye, bowed Her head slightly, turned to casually walk off.  This incident was particularly strange to me because there wasn’t enough time for Her to do all of that, before I would hit her at the speed I was driving, yet, it was not even a close call.

But I know for sure, She is with me.

Reader Question #1

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“How do I deal with the loneliness of not being able to share this part of my life with the people who are in my life. I feel like I live two lives and have since I was very young.”

One thing you will see, time and time again, throughout this blog, is how I have struggled with this exact problem. I think the loneliness comes from our own acceptance of prominent social expectations.

When, in the past, you have shared something that you saw or heard with others, so many people have told you, in one way or another:

  1. Ghosts don’t exist
  2. It was just a dream
  3. Maybe you ate something funny
  4. I am worried about you

With each time you hear one of these things, your faith in what you see is subtly undermined with a shelf of doubt. Most people don’t realize that they can hear, and sympathize without having experienced it themselves. But, people have been trained to not trust anything more than the physical senses. I have so frequently been told that by seeing spirits I am being seduced by the devil. Ironically, they say it this way so it is not like I am at fault for this. They speak so it is something that is being done to me, so it is kinder. Funnily enough, having experienced these spirits, it would be a form of torture if I were a victim, and had no control. (But that is another story) So many of the fears and biases come forward as a self-defense mechanism to keep us safe within our society.

For instance:
When I was 4 or 5 years old, I realized that the people around me did not see the other ‘people’ I saw. And from that age, I started changing the way I acted. I would stop staring at these other ‘people’, no matter how fervently they were trying to get my attention, as I was already learning that it was not acceptable to see them.

We have all changed the way we act around others to deal with THEIR level of comfort with the spirit world. This is the basis of the problem. And to be honest, this doesn’t yet answer your question. Simply identifies how your question has become so relevant for so many of us.

There are two possible answers for how I deal with the loneliness that comes from separating an aspect of yourself from the world within which you live.

This first option is to accept that the world will never see what you see, and allow that aspect of yourself to die. Not the answer I would propose to most, but there are times when people are not ready for the more difficult option. And if living in the current limbo between solutions is too much, this is the route to more quickly deal with the issue at hand. But I am happy to say that this is not the solution that is right for you.

~ And for my readers, I do know who this question came from. But, by looking at the question above, you will see that in writing the question above, ze (gender neutral pronoun for he/she) has written this with a longing to bring those two aspects of hir (gender neutral pronoun for his/her) life back to one. Ze does not want this aspect of hir life to die.

The second option is far easier in words than it is in effort. But here is the list of tasks you must do to deal with the loneliness (and in this order). And as I have gone through these, and (barely) survived (and still struggle everyday), I would like to share them with you.

  1. Accept yourself as you are. You must know that when you see or hear ghost/spirits/energies/deities/etc you are okay.
  2. Think about your fears in detail. Think on each one, and find its source. “If I tell people that I hear my dead friend speaking, everyone will think I am crazy, and shun me.” After you have thought about what this fear is, take some time, in your own head, and think about that fear. Where does it come from? If you are willing to hear it, I bet you will come to several instances in your life where there have been large or small comments that have made this feel like truth to you. And as you think back, you will find the ONE comment that made the difference. “I had a girlfriend in high-school, and I REALLY liked her, but when I asked her about ghosts, she told me I was crazy, and ran out. I got a text later that she had broken up with me.” (This is an example, this did not really happen to me.) Take the time to think on that memory, and realize that YOU ARE OKAY!
  3. Put consistent effort into loving yourself. Loving yourself in your entirety, even accepting what fears you have not been able to let go of. I have even found some chanting can assist. (Learned from Emotional Freedom Technique) “I am afraid my friends will abandon me, if they knew all of me, but I accept myself.”
  4. Be Brave. Test the waters, or come right out with it. Don’t hide this part of yourself. Be true to yourself, trust yourself, and trust those you chose to spend time with. If you are spending time with a close friend who doesn’t know this aspect of you. Give them a chance to know you. Preface it however you would like, but you should start a conversation. (Start one person at a time if you need) Tell them that there is an aspect of you, that you want them to know about, but you fear telling people. And tell them as much as you feel you can in that moment. This will get the ball rolling.

It is important to note that almost all of the people I have been clear and honest with on this topic, have been truly honored that I would share something so personal with them. This truth has brought me closer to many people. There will always be a few that do not take it that well. And here is what I have to say there. If a person cannot accept the whole of who you are, are they worth having in your life? So take a chance, try it. If they don’t respond well, simply appreciate that their response is about where they are in their personal journey, and not about where you are in yours. That will allow you to still offer them care, and find a way to separate yourself from a tough place. I have the greatest confidence that you will start finding that as you tell people, you will see more clearly that separating the aspects of yourself, has built a wall between you and your friends. By being honest, and speaking your own truth, you will give them the trust they deserve, and you will form closer bonds.

Even when you have 2 or 3 people who know your truths, you will find the loneliness abates.

I wish you luck in your adventure, and I loved answering this question.