The Power of We

I think a solid argument could be made that 2012 is the year of the ‘Power of We.’ All around the world, we have seen average citizens banding together to effect change. We see it all around us: politically, economically, environmentally, and more! We keep seeing anomalous stories of dogs adopting pigs, elephants befriending dogs, and many more. Something seems to be happening, and we are both spectator and participant.

As a shamanic practitioner, I have been privileged to witness the inter-connectedness of life on many levels. As someone who walks the dreamwinds, I know in the core of my soul that there are layers of reality beyond what our three dimensional selves can see and recognize. Is this the Unity Consciousness we hear so much about? I think it is one of the first steps.

I believe that the Power of We culminates in Unity Consciousness. This connectedness that we are finally recognizing as an amazingly powerful dynamic is only the start of the process. We are just waking up and like an individual that needs their morning ritual to be fully awake, we have to go through the stages of the process to get our Unity eyes fully opened.

What will the stages be? That is something I don’t pretend to know. I do believe that individuals have been awakening for years. They have been trying to help us, but there are none so blind as those who will not see. We each have to come to it in our own time and in our own way, otherwise our minds shy away from it and refuse to recognize it for what it is. As more and more people awaken, groups of people begin to recognize the threads that connect them are strong enough to change the world.

At some point, we started to ask ourselves what we wanted this world to be? We stopped accepting that the status quo has to stay because it has always been. We begin to recognize that light is both particle and wave, depending on our intent. Accepting that as true, then we hypothesize that can control the outcome by controlling our intention. I think this is where things are at now. We see that we have power, and that we can remake the world in the form of our dreams … only we have to decide what we really want, as a group.

I am not sure what the next step will be, but I do believe there will be a next step. The people attempting to define the dream are out there and working hard. That Facebook page I set up, STEP, is a collection point for stories about the dreamers impacting economic change. I had a friend email me recently with a very detailed explanation of how he thinks the business corporate environment might be recreated to empower the individual and get rid of all or most of the hierarchical mess people currently have to navigate. He is one of the waymakers.

The world is changing and the “power of we” is the springboard that will catapult us to a new earth. I am so excited to be alive now and witness to this amazing worldwide event. I am glad to be part of the “we” that is bringing about change, and to have come to know and work with so many more!

Stone Light Retreat

Crystal Cabin Guardian

When I finished my last day as a Network Systems Administrator, and stepped off the cliff into creating my own business, I knew that the change was huge. I have always believed that 80% of just about everything in life is mental, so I knew I needed to shift my mindset before I dug into the business, in order to give it the best possible chance of succeeding. The method I chose for doing this was to go on a three day retreat in Viroqua, Wisconsin.

Viroqua is in what is termed The Driftless Region of Wisconsin. Technically, the driftless region is defined by the fact that glaciers did not leave any of their mess behind. Boulders, silt and sand are called “drift,” and so none of this was left decorating the region when the glaciers last melted. Practically, it encompasses a region with gorgeous landscape, deep river valleys, and amazingly uplifting natural aesthetic influences.

The natural beauty makes this a perfect place for a retreat. Lucky for me, I already knew of a place that would fit my list of requirements: Moderately isolated, “off the grid,” and preferably friendly to my spiritual path. Stone Light is a place I found a few years ago. I have hiked its paths before, and recommended it to many a friend, but this was my first opportunity to take up residence there, myself!

Stone Light is not huge, but don’t be fooled by its size. Steve, the owner, has gone through a lot of effort to create paths and features to draw you into the natural setting. We are not talking untouched wilderness here, but a natural beauty enhanced with a blessing here and there. You might be walking through the woods and come across a bowl on a tree stump that is lined with 100 or more small crystals. There are rocks placed near the path that look like nature carved them into shapes such as a person praying. There is a labyrinth, an outdoor altar space, and so much more. What there isn’t is electricity and the electro-magnetic interference that goes with it. Nor will you find running water in the cabins. Instead, the Amish-built cabins are accompanied by a nearby outhouse. Steve opens a portion of his home to the retreaters so that a shower can be had the morning after hiking in the woods all day. It was very appreciated!

I arrived on Monday and explored the town a bit before heading up to the retreat. There is a food co-op, a rock shop and a few restaurants to enjoy. I hit the co-op and picked up a few things to take to the cabin with me. Nothing that needed refrigeration, of course. I was going off the grid and excited to be doing so!

I had brought a bunch of crystals to enhance the goal of my retreat, which was releasing the past and being open to the new life I wanted to lead. The cabin had a few crystals of its own, so I was able to use them to set up a wonderful grid after calling in the directions and creating my sacred space. I felt very comfortable and “at home” in the space. This allowed me to do the rituals and practices I needed over the course of the three days I was there.

I read. I journaled. I did lots and lots of meditating, especially outside. Initially, I focused on release, but by the end, I was opening myself up to the world around me and pulling energy from the Earth. The last night I was there I did a wonderful Listening Meditation, where I sat outside for about an hour or so and simply listened to all the noises around me and documented them in my journal as I did so. That was actually a wonderfully opening meditation.

This retreat was everything that I had wanted it to be. It was both exhausting and rejuvenating, healing and cathartic, cleansing and enlightening. I came home on Thursday afternoon feeling like I had been scrubbed clean inside and I knew I was ready to face the new life I planned on creating. If you have never taken time to be totally alone with yourself – no tv, no phone, no internet – I highly recommend it. Facing yourself without distraction can be challenging, but it can also be extremely rewarding!

So, here we are a week and a half later, and I can still say that the retreat did what I needed it to do. I won’t say that I feel ready to conquer the world every day, but I keep working to find the steps to create this life I want so much. Every day, I am wake up and feel like it is going to be even better than the day before. I haven’t been disappointed yet.

I am so glad that I went to Stone Light. I am also glad I went for three nights, instead of the two I had originally planned (thanks for the nudge, Ann Marie!). The only downside was realizing at one point that no electricity meant no fan to give any relief to the stifling heat that sauntered in on my second night there. (edit: Please note that the heat was part of a record-breaking heat wave socking the Midwest at the time, and not reflective of normal weather in the area! ~RnT) But then the rain came and all was well again. The energy at Stone Light is amazing. Steve goes to great lengths to enhance the healing energy of the land with judicious placement of crystals. The cabin came with its own sage stick (good thing, as I had forgotten mine!) and the book selection in the cabin gave me much food for thought. He has a variety that rotates through all the cabins and the books encompass many different faiths and approaches to spirituality. In other words, there is a little bit for almost everyone. I will definitely be going again, and hope to make this a regular ritual.

Stone Light Retreat

Click above for slide show images of my retreat

The Fool’s Way

In the tarot, The Fool is about to set off on a journey. Many versions of the card exist, and quite a few of them show a character about to walk off the edge of a cliff. Some people think the Fool doesn’t know any better. In his innocence, he just doesn’t pay attention well enough to his surroundings and he is just one misstep away from looking the fool!

This is one layer of truth, but what if there was more to it? I have been feeling a strong connection to The Fool for a while now, and I wanted to know more. So, I decided to journey to the energy of The Fool and find out what he brings to me right now. A friend gave me a hand made version of the card for a focus, and what I brought back seemed like it was bigger than me and my life right now. The Fool gave me a monologue and I decided to share it with you in the hopes that you might find something to take away as well:

As I approached The Fool, he reached down and pulled up some grass. Holding it up for me to see, he said, “This isn’t real.” I was still trying to decide if that was a foolish or a deep statement when he reached out and pinched me. As I yelped, he noted, “That isn’t real, either.” With one swipe of his hand encompassing the entire scene before us, he added, “None of this is real. Knowing that is important.

“You are afraid of getting hurt, of falling, because you think you have been here before. I tell you that you have never walked this path, so how can you know you will get hurt? Did others tell you that you would get hurt? They’ve never been here either.

“The path I walk you can’t see … and neither can I. It is not out here where we see a cliff.” Tapping his chest, he continued, “It is in here. To walk, you need to know this space and step when She tells you to step and don’t step if She doesn’t tell you. She is the one who sees the path.”

“The path She sees is the real stuff. Out here, none if it is real, so it doesn’t matter if it looks like smooth ground or a cliff. Doesn’t make it any more real.

“You can do this. You just need to SHIFT….”

Level Up

A little over a week ago, I was driving into work and saw two unusual (for me) sightings. First, a coyote crossed the road in front of me, pausing at the halfway point to look right at me on his way to the farmer’s field on the other side of the road. It had been years since I had seen a coyote, and with the shamanic training I have been doing, I was pretty confident that this did not bode well for the day. The energy of Coyote is that of the trickster. He always works for the highest good, but it is almost never pleasant. He pokes and pricks the ego, forcing us to deal with uncomfortable situations or feelings, or even putting us in a position where we have to move forward on something we’d rather avoid. Definitely not fun!

I was feeling all angsty as I thought about this, when I looked up and saw a hawk flying in my general direction. I see hawks a lot more often than coyotes, but this one landed on a telephone pole next to the road. I slowed way down and watched him watch me as I drove past. Once I was beyond the pole, he took off in the same general direction as the coyote. My immediate reaction was that this was a followup message to the warning from Coyote. Hawk was reminding me that I could get through what was coming my way. I just needed to remember to trust in the bigger picture.

Needless to say, I was feeling pretty uncomfortable by the time I arrived at work. I spent a few minutes in my car, meditating and listening to the birds in the nearby prairie, settling into my center before I went into the building. Within two hours of seeing coyote, I was called into a meeting with my boss where he let me know that, as the Brits would say, I was being made redundant. I like the sound of that so much better than saying that I was being laid off, and in this case, it was also more accurate. I am being replaced, and so I truly am being made redundant. Although we had agreed a while back that I would be leaving, no date was set and I guess I thought I would have more time to find the next step on my journey. This was my notice that the time was now.

The details of this are mostly irrelevant. However, I feel this whole period in my life is a part of a transitional time for me. A frequent sign of the shift is supposedly leaving behind jobs, people and situations that no longer serve your highest good. I have been lagging my feet in this regard, in spite of mostly embracing change. I guess I wanted to grow, but didn’t want to be too uncomfortable in the process! Silly me. I should have remembered a favorite quote from George Sand (from the novel, Mauprat), when she reminds us all that “No change, even from bad to good, can be accomplished without pain.” You get to a point in the transition process when you simply have to let go of what was, even if you kick and scream while doing so. I know this intellectually, so why is it so darned hard sometimes to live from this truth?

I have been chewing on this ever since I was given a transition date (yes, that is the phrase he used), and I think the Divine is trying to answer me, if I will only listen. I want so much to understand what is going on, to retain a little speck of control in this otherwise chaotic time in my life, even if I know that control is illusory. That yearning for understanding may or may not help get me through the rough bits, but it is my nature to try to make sense of all that I see and to pass on any understanding I gain in whatever way I feel drawn to share.  So, when repetitive information starts popping up, I see it as a sign from the Universe that the conversation is not one-sided, and we are indeed in a dialogue; In the last several days, I have been surrounded with messages about change and transcendence.

The most mundane example of these messages is related to a conversation I had with my adult daughter about how I feel I normally deal pretty well with whatever life sends my way, but that I am feeling a bit out of my depth at the moment. We both love gaming, so I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised that we simultaneously used the phrase “level up.” In gamespeak, this is when your character gets enough points and experience to get bumped up to the next level in the game. The beginning of any level always seems more challenging until you get the knack of it. Since my life has suddenly taken a sharp turn for “more challenging,” we decided that I must have leveled up. I simply need to get used to what the new level requires and I’ll be fine. I admit that the metaphor makes me smile.

Ironically, this morning, the same daughter shared a post with me on Facebook. It was a picture from a page she follows with the phrase “When life gets harder, you must have just leveled up.” She found it last night and thought the timing was perfect, so she had to tag me. It felt like a gentle reminder that this really is what is going on.

To complement this, just a few moments later, I saw a page I follow had posted about the symptoms of transmutation and ascension (How to Raise Your Vibration, by Sabrina Reber). The theory is that transition times are not comfortable. As we change, we go through a period of confusion, overwhelm, detoxification and anxiety. The author assures us that this is normal, even to be expected. It is simply manifestations of an adjustment period to the additional energies flowing into our lives. Needless to say, there is no set time frame for how long these periods might last, only the dubious comfort that they are temporary. According to Ms Reber, we can speed them up by embracing them instead of fighting them. Doing so will make the transition period more intense, but of shorter duration. Reiki, meditation and intention all play a role in escalating the process. This makes sense to me, and since I have almost always been one to embrace intensity, I actually find embracing the transition to be desirable. The discomfort is a price I am willing to pay in order to become more authentically me.

So, this last week or two has been a rough one for me emotionally, and explains my absence on the blogosphere. However, I do think that good things will come of it in the long run. After all, summer is upon us and that is my favorite season. Who knows? I may even get to enjoy this one! As an IT worker, it has been a very long time since I truly enjoyed summer, as that is when many projects are scheduled, in order to take advantage of the end user vacation absences. I have also come to accept that I need to reinvent myself to be happier on this turn of the wheel. “Reinventing” can be much more drastic than simply changing jobs, and it has taken me some time to find an emotional comfort level with that idea. I hadn’t realized it, but I had placed limits on what the next step could be for me, and that was leaving me feeling trapped. Now that I am consciously letting go of the limits I placed on myself, I am feeling a renewed commitment to be open to change and to embrace my most authentic self.

It is freeing, really. Scary, too. And exciting. Lots of conflicting emotions keep bubbling up, which is yet another symptom of transmutation. Go figure!

Integration

Originally written as a handout for a course in shamanism:

As each of us learns and grows along the shamanic path, we come to have a perspective on the significance of the different components of the path, based upon the experiences we have had. When I contemplate the topic of integration, I realize immediately that it is a deeply personal process.  As I think about what it has come to mean to me, one word comes immediately to mind: Change.

Change is the one constant in life. Every time something changes, whether it is a birth or a death, a new job or winning the lottery, a professional healing session or a personal journey, you have to determine how best to incorporate the changes as you move forward.  In effect, you must integrate the new life events into how you live and process information.  Integration, by definition, is a process for change.  If you think you are integrating an experience, but nothing in your thought processes or your life has changed, then I would challenge you to rethink how well you are integrating what you have learned.  I strongly believe that it is impossible to integrate anything successfully, and have everything in your life stay the same.

As I thought about what I wanted to share with you about integration, the challenge became immediately apparent: Every person and every journey is unique. There are no hard and fast rules of how to integrate what we bring back from our journeys. So, what I have decided to do is to share my perspective on integration. I hope that there are seeds within these words that you can use to find ways to approach your own integration work.

When I journey and bring back soul pieces or information, integration is a way for me to honor both the connection to spirit and the knowledge that has been brought back. I am able to think and live from a new place, when I add the knowledge gained into my life. Like peering through a window that was dirty but has been cleaned, the world looks different when I allow integration to change my point of view. This new perspective may well heal me, or give added insight to events in my life, but it is also a bonding between me and the spirits.

Sometimes the changes in my world are small and cumulative, while other times they can be truly and dramatically life changing. No matter the scope, I use the following general techniques to help with the integration process:

  • I document what I have been given and where it leads
    •  Whether it is at the time of the journey or as soon as I can afterward, I write out my journey, or my impressions of what I have been told when someone journeyed for me. I may put down some first impressions about the implications of what I have been given. If this was in a circle, I may also include what insights others may have shared. As I move forward with integrating the change in my life, I also journal the process.  

 

  • I try to remain open to nudges from spirit
    • Whether it is my daily meditation practice or a habit I am trying to develop of listening within, I try to remain aware of synchronicities, or their opposites – a desire to do something outside my normal routine. I am not a very habit-based person, so this means trying to remain very aware of my own motivations. If I am thinking about a recent journey when my rune bag catches my eye, it may well be time to sit down and cast the stones to deepen my understanding of the journey.

 

  • Integration means change
    • Thinking about the journey information and drawing a mindmap, journaling, tarot or runes are all well and good, but they are simply the prep-work for incorporating some type of change into my life. An insight may change how I process information. I may get a suggestion to change a habit I have had for years. I may be healed of a past trauma, changing how I see the world. No matter the details, integrating the information isn’t complete until I start living it out.

I would also mention that I have found it is an easy trap to continually go to the same comfortable techniques when working on integration. Although there is nothing wrong with frequently turning to the tarot, for example, I have found that it is often when stepping outside my comfort zone that I get the most powerful insights. Since I journal the whole process, it is possible for me to look back and note patterns that can make me question if I am creating a habit rather than listening to the nudges within.

Integration work is some of the most important soul-work we can do, so find the ways that work for you and make them a part of your spiritual practice. Your life will change. Your spiritual connections will strengthen, and you will grow as a person.