What if we could go back in time and repair or influence something in our lives that affects the outcome of the present? Or future?
I was listening to a talk by a shamanic friend and colleague, Alida Birch, and she mentioned a study by researcher Leonard Leibovici that was done with hospital patients who had sepsis in 1990. The objective of the study was to have people say prayers for a group of patients to see if it had any effect on the outcomes. The study showed that mortality was lower and the overall length of stay and fever were shorter in the group that were included in prayers. Here’s the interesting part - the prayers were said ten years after the people were in the hospital with the infection!
Let that sink in…
How did that work? We are multi-dimensional energy beings experiencing a brief physical stint on earth. In our natural energetic state we are not bound by the constraints of time or space. So healing can happen in present time when the tending is focused on the past, and it can clear the way for creating the future we want to embody.
In Reiki Level 2 we learn how to do healing at a distance. What makes this possible is the symbol called Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen. Once this symbol is activated in us through an energetic attunement, we can use it to send Reiki healing light anywhere instantaneously. And we can also use the symbol to send Reiki through time, to the past and to the future. When I first learned this in my Reiki class, a whole new perspective opened for me. It changed completely the way I thought about healing and energy.
Now as a teacher, I share with my students that this is an ideal practice to work with in our own tending. We know the times in our lives which were difficult, when and where we experienced trauma, pain, injury. We can see ourselves at that age in that situation and send Reiki light back in time to ourselves. It may be the thing that gets us through that difficult time. But it also stays in the energy field afterwards, continuing to work through the energy bodies like a time release medicine. It unwinds the trauma from the cells, from the organs, the chakras, the etheric template. It takes the juice out of the story we tell ourselves, and uncovers our true selves, the Divine light we truly are.
We can also send Reiki ahead of us to the future. In a practical manner we can send it to clear and elevate the space in doctor’s offices for procedures and surgeries, and to highways and hotels before we travel. But we can also send it ahead to how we want to be in the world. If I want to be fearless, compassionate and patient, then I send Reiki to that image of myself embodying those qualities.
One would think if we had a magical tool like this, we would use it all the time to heal our past hurts and envision our joyful future. But I have found we have a habit of neglecting our own self-healing.
In Reiki Level 1, my teacher stressed that doing Reiki on ourselves every day was very important for us to continue to learn to flow Reiki and to integrate the attunement. I did that every night before I went to bed for a few weeks, then it tapered off, and I might do it when I remembered or when I had a pain or illness. After each level I would practice less on myself and more on others. But I was more tuned into my energy and my guides and I would get a message or feel when I needed to give myself Reiki. Then when I became a Reiki teacher I saw with my students how giving themselves Reiki treatments is a key part of the learning experience.
If we look within ourselves for the power to affect change, we will find it. I realized when I heard Alida mention the prayer study that if I spent as much time seeing myself in the future the way I want it to be instead of wondering what it will take to get me there, the manifestation of that future would be happening now. And then adding power to the vision with tools like Reiki, prayer (in itself a form of energy medicine), affirmations, tapping, and shamanic journey work, we are amplifying that creation of our future.
It’s worth making time for, isn’t it?
When our ancestors lived close to the land, they were in tune with the natural cycles of death and rebirth around them. They had concepts, stories and ceremonies that seem shamanic to us, but to them were an everyday way of living and dying.
My Celtic ancestors marked the end of the old year and the beginning of the new on Samhain, November 1st. They honored death at this time, knowing it was a doorway to rebirth. They acknowledged the death of the crops and the wild plants after giving the fruits of their harvests. They gave thanks to the yearling hogs and the cattle that were butchered and smoked, and for the wild stags that stood still before their arrows as a gift of sustenance. The shortening days and longer nights symbolized the sun’s journey towards death and then rebirth at winter’s solstice.
Today many western countries know Samhain as Halloween where death is also a key image in our culture around that day, with ghosts, graveyards and skeletons popping out of decorated front yards and craft stores.
This time of year especially, the subject of death is up in all kinds of ways. A few days ago walking in the park near me I met some surveyors measuring and taking pictures. There are plans to redo and develop some trails and green areas there, but public details are few. We were standing close to one of my favorite trees, a giant walnut. I asked one of them if he knew if the city had any plans to remove any of the trees, as I am always thinking about what impacts my tree friends. He didn’t know, but he mentioned how remarkable the walnut tree is in its size and beauty.
But then he said, “Well they might have to take it down because its dying. It is starting to tilt.”
Well for the rest of my walk I kept thinking about that. It didn’t feel true to me. That tree has been growing for well over 100 years. It is full of lush green leaves, with a sturdy trunk and healthy looking bark. But it is on the side of a creek bank that may be destabilizing its roots. and so that is the reason it is tilting. I am not an arborist, but I felt certain in my way of sensing and feeling that it is not dying any time soon.
Left alone it may very well tilt over time, its weighty branches eventually winning over the roots as they lose more traction to the creek bed erosion. One day it will fall over onto the ground. Maybe it will stop growing, and stop exhaling oxygen, and then it will be dying. Then it will begin to recycle its nutrients and essence into the earth. The moss, fungi and lichens on it will continue to grow. The beetles, ants and other insects in it will continue to feed, breed, live and die their own life cycles. After many more years the particles and essence of the tree are transformed into life-giving compost and nutrients that live on in the soil and plants around where it fell. New trees may grow from that very spot. The cycle of rebirth or reincarnation continues.
Only time will tell if the giant walnut lives on for decades more to die in its natural time and transform its essence into a gift to the ecosystem around it. If its life is cut short by the saw, it will still transform and rebirth in another way. Its gift then may be the loss that humans feel as such a large presence in their park is removed. Perhaps they will also come to the realization that tree was a living breathing being.
I strive to honor death in a shamanic way as transformation and not an ending. I know without a doubt that death is only the beginning of another journey, as souls are infinite. I feel fortunate that on this path I have been able to connect with the spirits of ancestors and loved ones - human, animal, and tree - who have left their physical bodies and became helpers and masters of light in the spirit realms. That doesn’t mean I don’t miss them like crazy when I can’t hug them, and I grieve that loss. But I honor their season and their journey home and know that we may meet again outside this time and place.
The other day I was at a place that I feel is sacred. It’s a ravine where a sweet little waterfall runs down layers of sandstone and clay to stream across the sand and into the sea. The sides of the ravine are woven with a tight matrix of grass and a myriad of plants. Purple aster and horsetail bob in the breeze with mint, yarrow, wild rose and ever present salal. A pale smooth driftwood tree with branched limbs thrown up by a high tide long ago liked it so much it wedged itself sideways and stayed. It makes a perfect perch to cultivate my joy. I reach my senses out to all the life and nature spirits around me in deep gratitude. For a water sign like me, sitting between a waterfall and the sea feels so homey.
I brought an offering with me. I pull the strands of sweetgrass that were gifted to me by a friend and inhale the exquisite scent. The scent that brings me both up to the sun and down solidly to the earth at the same time. The scent that brings me out of all the rabbit holes of collective chaos that I cannot avoid on my screens most days and into the amazing process of sun and water creating perfect green grass.
I exhale my gratitude and prayers into the grass and stand it upright in a fissure in the branch beside me. A place where it can wave in the breeze and feel everything.
Awhile later when ready to continue my walk down the beach, I see a strand of sweet grass on the rock below me. I reach down and drop it into the stream to flow out as an offering to the sea. It gets caught in an eddy next to a rock, unmoving like a swimmer in an infinity pool. I reach down to free it and I hear a message.
Daughter, thank you for your offering. Please don’t force where it goes. It soaks up what it needs to, it goes where it needs to. There is a divine purpose to how it flows and where it goes… and what it means in relation to your intention, your gratitude, your purpose as you are here in this place. We feel you.
The lesson has stayed with me this week. It is one that I have revisited again and again over the years. We are so prone to micro-management, even in spirit matters. We need to learn to give our prayers without condition and truly release them. Give them away without attachment to outcome and any sense of how it should be. Of course we have our opinion, which is why we are making prayers in the first place! But once those words, that song, that heartfelt blessing has left our mouths and hearts, it belongs to the winds of Spirit.
Trust that Spirit will know exactly what to do with it.
To help you tend to soul issues that may manifest in physical, emotional, mental or spiritual aspects of your life, and to give you tools to empower your path to harmony and well-being.
-There are so many kindredspirits doing the work out there. I include these links to help our community connect with one another.
SACRED HOOP Magazine Guide to Shamanism Compilation- http://www.sacredhoop.org/Pages/FreeGuide.html
Kitzie's podcasts include interviews with artists and kirtan music. I love attending her weekly Satsang group and the New World Kirtan Band concerts -
My friend and herbalist mentor, Lawrence Birch is a Certified Clinical Herbalist, plant whisperer and shamanic practitioner. If you need custom tincture blends or are interested in a wildcrafting apprenticeship, he is the teacher extraordinaire:
Roger Wheelock and Gayle Ruth are shamanic practitioners and teachers in the Pachakuti Mesa Tradition. https://www.rainmother.com/ I am grateful to be able to take part in ceremony with them, and to support their love for the Peruvian people through the World Ayni Association.