Category Archives: And then I met God, again

This is a group of posts in regards to large changes in perspective that I have had on the path. It be relevant to a specific God or Goddess, but might not.

How is that shamanism?

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I fear that as I move forward in collecting my thoughts about what I am doing, and how it is spiritual, I find that I fall into the normal and almost expected traps I tend to build for myself.  I try so hard to find ways for my thoughts to fit within the science I study.  I try so hard to solidify the efforts into something tangible. But when it comes down to it, you need to ask yourself, is this really spiritual at all? Is this really something I am doing on faith, or for my own path moving forward.

In an effort to make sure that I am keeping information centralized, I would like to outline the circumstances as to why I wrote the sermon I gave last week, and how I do regard it as part of my shamanic work.  This is not something anyone has challenged me on, but I find having the context makes it easier to go back to, review, and accept it for what it is.

(This refers to the post: Unpacking your invisible Misa)

I was assisting with a project in December of 2014 at our congregation, and there were subtle pieces of conversation that truly illustrated to me that there is a fair amount of privilege our congregation holds, and some of the members speak in ways that make it harder to ignore.  As someone who has been doing a fair amount of ego work, and a fair amount of work recognizing my own privilege, I emailed our Rabbi to suggest that we do a sermon on Privilege.

With so much of what I do in this community, I plant a seed, and wait for it to grow into something that starts to address the problem at hand.  Our Rabbi is a remarkable woman, and recognizing the potential the idea had, and the potential benefit it could return, she saturated that seed with Miracle-Grow!  (Okay, to ditch the hokey metaphor, she sent me an email and said, “That sounds amazing, let’s do it in 2 weeks, on Dr. Martin Luther King day.”)

The context behind this sermon was that I saw a small piece of our community that subtly rots away at the soul of our congregation.  A small piece that works against our very goals and fiber. And when I realized that it was there, in order to start to heal, or at least acknowledge it was there as to not make it become worse, action needed to be taken.  The action I took was to write a Teaching to be given that would educate people about their invisible privilege, in a way they could hear, and not take offense.  By giving this speech about myself, I was able to assure people didn’t dis-acknowledge the message due to their own refusal to accept that they have privilege, nor miss the message as they were caught up in guilt over the recognition of their own privilege.

This is shamanism because it is effort put forward, with both subtle and overt overtones to change the community for the betterment of the community.

Writing this was spiritual and quite a challenge on my own path, as well.  I was assisted by my two guides (for lack of a better phrase) on how to push this in the right direction.  They also encouraged me to accept the aspects of myself that are more challenging to talk about.  I have to really address the content of what made to be who I am, and not only address the fears that came out of it, but also, really sit with the experiences that I faced, and feel what they mean. Writing this speech was the core of personal growth and personal healing work.  Giving this speech, was the core of shamanism.

 

New Beginnings

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This year has been full of tumult. I have a feeling that the next year will challenge me in new ways, before things get better.  But in this year, I have grown more than I had hoped from the beginning. And I am proud of myself.

It is amazing how you set your intent to learn and to grow, and how you never end up in exactly the place you assumed you would be in.  Learning is an ever-changing snake-like path that you will continue to ride as long as you chose to move forward.  Getting off is an option, but I think that that would be the only way to not move towards your goal of growth.

This year, I have stumbled upon the reality that my wife and I have paid tribute to, and received the benefits from the bounty of the God Shiva. The common understanding of Shiva is as the Hindu God of Death and  Rebirth.  But, my realization this year has been that Shiva is not only for the Death and Rebirth of a person or spirit, but that of ideas, and habits… Shiva is also the God of changing intention, and attitude.  Shiva is a proponent to change and growth.

Without the death of something, the growth of another cannot occur.  Since the beginning of my marriage, my wife and I have chosen each other every morning.  We do not assume that we will be together forever because we took vows.  We continually come to one another with our challenges, fears, happiness’s, inspirations, efforts, confusions, you name it. And with each new conversation, we speak, we think, we accept our initial emotions, then we think about each other, and how sometimes the person that needs to change in a hard time is us and not them.  We make the choice to grow, and with each time we chose a harder path for the other, we grow closer together.  We change.Let me come up with a clear example.Let us say she came to me with the idea of wanting another partner. (Male or female is irrelevant for this situation, but pick which over works for you)10 years ago, my mindset put me in a place that would make me angerly say, “No.”But if I inspect that emotion, why it is so strong, I would have seen that I was reacting to the idea of, “but that is my body, and I don’t want to share it with anyone else.” The concept of, “Mine.”  The concept of ownership and property. And although I would have definitely felt it strongly, it would be hard to admit that that is what it was. Because even in my 10 year younger mind, the concept of “Mine” was strong, but, I didn’t believe on ownership of a partner. (Yes, I know this conflicts, but it is amazing what you can reason past)
(I realize that for some of you, there is a religious concern, but when you think hard about that, you might also see that the idea of property is involved. And if you have a religious concern, continue reading anyway, this does not end in judgement on you or your religion.)

And when I think about what it means to me, and why I react so strongly, there are a lot of questions that come up.

Do I own her body?
Do I own her emotion?
Does she owe anything to me to listen to my concerns?
What needs am I not meeting?
Are there needs I am unable to meet?
What are her needs that drive this interest?
What about another partner is she looking for?

And it comes back to, this question was posed to me, not asked of me.  She is a wonderful strong individual, completely independent of me. This is why I love her so much. So, if there is nothing owed either way, what reason would I have to say no to her about this?

The only answer I could say, that is true, and not ego-centric about this, would be the answer to another question than we have been talking about.

Is this idea, an idea that is worth driving us apart?

I personally feel that, as a strong individual, she has complete ownership of her own mind, body, and spirit.  I am grateful for the amount of those three things she is willing to share with me. And I enjoy making choices that cause her to chose to allow me to be part of her.  But what is the limit?So, is it worth driving us apart?You could say, “No, it is not worth driving us apart.” Or, you could say, “You are a wonderful person, but, I cannot say yes to this.  But, you may make the choice to chose another person, instead of me.”I think the Sex Columnist, Dan Savage, said it best, “What is your cost of admission?”I specifically chose an example that I thought could pose some personal introspection to many people.  I can’t tell you for sure how I would answer the question above if it were posed me.  But, this process that I followed here, is a tribute to Shiva.  It is looking at my mindset, thinking hard about different perspectives, and challenging each thought to shape itself into it’s best appearance.Death of an old concept, rebirth of a new concept (formed loosely on the old)In so many small decisions, and most of the big decisions, Shiva has been the code to help us continue to chose the decision that was right, even when it required challenging growth.In the upcoming year, I hope to continue to hold favor with this God, and also hope that the challenges and decisions I need to make are smaller and less challenging, but, I am confident I have the tools to move forward either way.

 

Hecate

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And this time, She took the form of a beautiful pale woman in a red dress.  I was sitting in a lounging couch and She walked in, past me, and stopped.  I could see the back of Her.  I got up, walked towards Her.  She seemed deeply saddened about something.

I thought she was my dear friend, my spirit partner, Natalia.  I placed my hand (with intention of being comforting) on her shoulder. She went rigid and turned to me almost instantaneously, and glared into my eyes.  “I did not give you permission to touch me!”

It is important to know that there is not much that scares me.  Very few spirits, or entities, or humans.  Her look terrified me. I took a step back and apologized for the familiarity as I thought She was a friend of mine.

“I have been your friend, and I will be your friend, but not now.  Now we don’t know one another. Come with me.”

And then we were on the roof of the mansion we were in.  She was carving something into the stone at the top of the chimney.  She said, “To show you what I offer in our arrangement, I will help you”  She engraved something into the stone and turned to me.  “You should start to have an easier time now, we will talk again soon.”

———

When I woke up, I thought, who the hell was that?  And in my mind, I heard “Hecate, we have been close before, and we will again” followed by a laugh.

Things got easier…

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.

Awakening Part 2

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I remembered the other part of the message from Diana. “Become the biggest Brujo You can be.”

I contacted my good friends who I knew were Wiccan and we had spoken before of the Fay.  (Aine and Robb, I love you guys) Knowing the Brujo is Spanish for “male witch”, I thought of Robb. I always trust their opinions, and I know they will tell me the truth even if I don’t want to hear it.

They heard me, and when they heard 2-spirits, they said, “Shaman”.  You need to speak with a Shaman. They told me they would get back to me after they had spoken to some people about who I should speak with.  Knowing my love of Japan, and my love of the martial arts, they were thinking some of their friends that were both Shaman, and loved the martial arts.

I started researching Shamans, and shamanism.  Prior to this, I had only ever heard of Shaman in some of my favorite fantasy novels.  I learned that there were Shamans all over the world. I focused on Japan… downfall there, all Japanese Shamans were women.  While I have a lot of feminine energy, I am very distinctly male.  And I associate as male, so that was just not going to work.  So, I started to review Shamans from all of the different countries.  I learned of those from Mongolia, Ireland, Denmark, Poland, Russia, Africa, and all of the Americas.

And my eyes stuck on Peru.  The history of Shamanism in South America tells the tail of how the Spanish conquered, and as they came, they labeled the Shamans “Witches” (Brujos).  This struck me SO clearly, and I saw the density of the messages that Diana passed on.

I called Robb and Aine back.  And they said, “Two Snakes”.  You need to speak with our friend Jim.  I reached out to Jim, he and his wife were two of the most kind and welcoming people I have met, and they were so generous with their time and knowledge.  We scheduled a time to meet.

And the next time I was in the area, I ventured over to their shop: The Wandering Owl.

James Stovall, Jim, Two Snakes, Shaman Jim, and his wife Ange Stovall
Shamans/Store Owners/Teachers (several other roles)
The Wandering Owl
139 N. Jackson Street
Jackson, MI 49201
(517) 782-2780
http://thewanderingowl.com

And while I am giving a plug for them, Jim also has an amazing podcast http://thejaguarandtheowl.com

I feel no shame for adding this plug.  Giving them business, if I can, is the least I can do, as they have worked so hard to help me to get where I am.

I know my path, I know the direction, I know what it takes, and I have someone to ask questions of.

I am on the path of becoming a Shaman of the Peruvian lineage (The Q’ero, or Inca Shamans).  It is probably time to take off the training badge and accept what I am, but I am always learning.  I will always be a student.

And after hearing a path from spirit, and having it so quickly solidified into reality, tells me a bit about faith.

My eyes are open, am I looking, and I am seeing.

Breaking down my bias

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While no one is shocked, as so many pagans have experienced this, I have a strong bias against Christianity.  We all know why, so, I do not want this post to be about the issues that led me to this point, but I would like to discuss why this has become an issue for me.

As I have mentioned in the past, I work heavily with my ancestors with an Ancestry Alter. I ran into a problem in the past year where my ancestors that are Catholic no longer wished to be at my alter. This was a really painful thing for me, as I knew that they didn’t want to be there because I was pagan, and this was not what they wanted to support.  But I was also grateful to them as they were there for me through the toughest part, when I was learning to start, and despite the prejudice, they helped me.

Now, It is important to mention at this point that so much of my recent work has brought me to see my privilege, and the decisions I make based on only the information I can see, which is not necessarily all the information that is presented.

But them leaving my alter really made me heart sick.  And it took months of doing my own personal work, that while listening to the podcast “The Jaguar and the Owl” that it suddenly came to me, my ancestors did not leave my alter because they were against me, or my faith, or my work… They asked to leave because of the hatred I had for Christianity.  Because through that, there is no way I could truly love them, as their religion is as much of them, as mine is of me.

Heart sick did not even begin to describe the way I felt at that moment in time.  They left because I allowed the wrongs I experienced turn something beautiful into a subtle hatred that was so pervasive that I have a hard time allowing friendship with self-identified Christians.  How does this suite my needs or my faith?  I let those Christians of my youth win, by letting them seed this hatred in me.  I often question how I could have let this happen.  And I realized that the answer is: It truly doesn’t matter.

As with all mistakes, the important part is how you move forward with your new realization, and although learn from the past, don’t waste time lamenting what cannot be changed.

So the question came: How do I heal such a deep and dark rift within myself?  I think this is the most difficult question I have ever posed, and I couldn’t hear any answers came through.  (It is amazing how we can be so blocked, you can’t hear good advise sometimes)

I asked a friend, Sarenth Odinson, while out to dinner.  He asked a few basic questions, and then he mentioned the idea of contacting Jesus himself.

*****

I pause a moment only to give visual affect to the way this statement affected me.  As a shaman, I guess I do have the capacity to reach out to the dead.  Wow, no pressure there at all.

Anyway, we continued our conversation, and he mentioned something else that really helped me in this thought process.  Sarenth also teaches a living traditions type of class where he teaches people to live his tribal religion.  I asked him how it was going.  And he said, wonderfully, slower than I anticipated, but wonderfully.  He commented on how he took for granted how to pray, as he learned it in his own Christian background.  Some people are matriculated with no formal religion or prayer at all.

Much like when I learned the value in a martial art I trained in and no longer had use for, I realized that my pagan faith, is built on the shoulders of my Catholic upbringing.  Because I grew up Catholic, I learned to connect to spirit, and how to pray.  How can I hate something that is such an integral part of who I am?

This conversation was particularly helpful due to what I could hear from it.  And it always makes me question, what valuable pieces am I not hearing.  I guess that is why I am determined to stay a perpetual student, so much to learn, so many subtleties.

That night, while pondering how I would go about contacting someone as powerful and well known as Jesus.

And he was there, Rabbi Jesus.

And an interesting conversation we had.  I feel as if it would be in appropriate to outline it here, but it moved me in remarkable ways.

I would like to tell you some of the things I have learned, and that I hope from every one.  Note, these are my words, not his.

I honestly feel we should all be more like Rabbi Jesus.  All of us. Of all of the deities I have worked with, he was the first powerful figure with whom I have spoken that I didn’t feel the need to have even a little bit of guard up.  I felt perfectly safe in his presence.  He was more compassionate than I could have ever imagined, and being in that presence was a gift onto itself.

For those who are Christian, I simply ask you choose your actions based on love.  For those of you who act and protest, and feel the need for your passionate faith be heard, I ask that you think about how Rabbi Jesus himself would act in that situation, not how your leader or book tell you.  I have read many of the existing versions of the bible, and the actions of the Rabbi I met, are not what are held true in the text. If your faith is true, you may still question everything, and still learn the truths of your faith.

For those of you who are not Christian, I simply ask you to choose your actions based on love.  When it comes to others, think how you would like them to treat you.  Notice that I didn’t say, act as your God(desse)s would act? I am hip to the fact that not all of our God(desse)s are peaceful. If your faith is true, you may still question everything, and still learn the truths of your faith.

I would like more Christ, and less Christianity.

Awakening Part 1

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When I was a kid, I saw things. I saw horrible things. I remember people following me. And after I learned to see that other people did not see them, I got scared. I guess terrified is a better word, but not really a word that was common in my 5 year old vernacular.

I can remember a recurring dream I would have, where I was sleeping in bed, and although my bed was not in a position to see the front door, I could watch a spirit coming through the front door, and down the hall to my room. As he would approach me in my bed, I knew the trouble I was in, and I would wake up. Into the same dream. This happened so often that I didn’t trust waking up, as I didn’t know if I was leaving off in the middle of the same dream.

I remember waking up with a man floating 5 or so inches above me in my bed, on fire. I could feel the heat, I could hear his screaming. And he stopped, looked at me, and said, “Are you ready to try this?”

One of the more interesting things I have experienced, is waking up with a demon looking creature standing on my bed. In an attempt to show trust, when he reached out an offering hand, I accepted it. When I asked if I could trust him, he snaked his head down, locked his grip around mine, and told me no.

Now remember that the energy you feel in every home you are in, realize that this is an emotion from the last tenants, a spirit that didn’t leave, or a God that wants your attention. These are not the only feelings I have when entering the same home, but I experience the entire entity as a tangible being.

The final straw for me was when I was standing in my apartment in Detroit. I was standing there, speaking to my girlfriend, and then I blinked. Closing my eyes, I was in my apartment on Prentis street just south of Wayne States Campus. When I opened my eyes, I was in an old saloon. An old western saloon. All of the people in the room turned to look at me, knowing that I was not right. Knowing I was the only one in the room, that was still alive. The next time I blinked, my eyes opened I was back in my apartment.

At that point, I had had enough. I blocked everything out. Everything…

************ 12 years passed ************

I woke up with a headache.

And when I say headache, I want you to know that this was the worst headache of my life.

10 days passed with every day being worse than the day before it.

Every way I knew to take care of myself, every medicine I was aware of, 2 trips to the doctor, and 2 separate prescriptions to antibiotics, and nothing touched this headache.

My mentor later commented on this as being, a slight bit of discomfort.

By the 10th day, I was nearly hallucinating. I took off work, couldn’t see straight.

And I got a message through one of my greatest friends, Jean Lowe Carlson ND. Jean is a remarkable channel. She was still learning the very beginnings of her awakening, and I was simply offering support as someone who knew she was not crazy. And through her, Diana told me a few tidbits of information.

“You are Fay. You have two spirits. One is Transcendental, and the other is Translational.“

Fay: is another word for fairy or mystical folk.
Transcendental: Being beyond ordinary or common experience, thought, or believe; supernatural. A summary from my spirit guides, has the ability to walk in other realms.
Translational: A rendering of something from another language. And a summary from my spirit guides, the ability to talk about it, in a way that people won’t outright see me as insane.

My headache started to ease.