I walked by the place where an old red oak had stood for at least 100 years on campus. There was nothing to show where it had been, no stump remained. It’s now just a patch of grass that is a lighter shade of green than the surrounding lawn. But I remember its huge branches making so much shade, and the funny hollow in the base that looked like a perfect home for faeries. I sent a blessing to any of its essence that was still in the ground; tiny adrift root threads and sawdust mulched into the soil.
The campus daily news wrote about the tree removal due to structural issues that made it unsafe. I watched the arborists slowly dismember it over several days. One day I was watching them work from a bench nearby and I felt like it was the day for honorable closure. Groups of crows came and settled in the surrounding trees. I felt the energy of nature spirits circling all around the area, and the hidden folk; faeries, elementals, elves, and dryads in solemn respect for the old oak. As I tuned in, I got the message that the essence of the tree would always remain in some form. It would remain in the decades of composted leaves that had enriched the soil, the acorns that squirrels had stored away and forgotten, the pollen from the flower buds that dusted into the cracks and crevices of nearby buildings and fields. The spirit of the tree was moving on, but the vibration of all it had been is in the energy imprint of the area. The nature spirits knew that. They honored its energy as well as witnessed its transformation. I sent my respect as well. I thanked it for everything it was, grateful that I got to know it, and let it know that I would miss it. I wished it a good journey home. The sadness was there, but the honorable closure gave it a place to settle within me.
I’ve been in a large online study group with shamanic teacher Sandra Ingerman all this year. She has been talking to us a lot about honorable closure as being a way to acknowledge loss and endings. By honoring death, we respect and revere life. It doesn’t mean we can’t grieve. It doesn't mean we don't feel the pain when someone we love dies. But for me there is a comfort in recognizing that the cycle and flow of energy does not disappear or end with the death of the third dimensional form.
This is also a way to honor other things in our lives that pass away; relationships, cars, jobs, ways of being in the world. We can honor them for the experiences; nourishment received, services rendered, and lessons learned, while deeply acknowledging what we are feeling. Simply thanking them for everything they have been and given helps create an ending for our own peace and fertile ground for fresh starts. Honorable closure is a vital part of energy work and shamanic practice. It helps us move forward, and it also sends a beautiful energy out into the world. And we need that now more than ever.
One of my biggest joys this year has been deepening my relationship with Nature Spirits. They have told me to come visit them in out of the way spots, off the beaten path. There are less distractions that way and I can immerse myself in the experience for deeper teaching.
Recently I took a new forest hike on an unmarked trail off a main trail. I was looking for a creek that ran nearby and after a half mile or so I heard it bubbling and singing. The trail was uphill and winding and I kept going, looking for a spot where it met the creek. I rounded a bend and saw that the trail dipped down and the creek crossed it in a beautiful cascade of small steps before it dropped off in a tiny waterfall. Upstream the ferns and bushes grew over a quiet area that looked to be an ideal place for faeries to play. It was incredibly beautiful, and a feeling of magic made my senses light up.
For a moment I thought about continuing to explore what might be around the next bend. I looked up the trail ahead and was startled to see a gnome staring back at me. It was easily seen in the mossy tree stump, and its energy felt a little stern. The first thing that crossed my mind was that it is guarding the trail and I’m not to go any further. I said hello and asked if I could go farther down the trail. I felt the answer as a definite no. I asked if I could stay there at the creek crossing and did not get a no. In my book, that’s a yes. I took off my shoes and put my feet in the creek. I glanced at the gnome every so often, amazed at how strong and animated its energy was.
There is nothing quite like Elementals. Everything that exists on Earth is made up of Elementals, including our bodies. In ordinary realty we think of them as earth, air, fire and water, but they prefer to be called Gnomes, Sylphs, Salamanders and Undines. We can describe their qualities and meet them and engage with them. However, we can’t easily describe what they are because they are in both the physical and non-physical realms.
A gnome is an earth Elemental. It is earth, and it is also the spirit of earth. Great caretakers, they tend soil, plants, stones, minerals and are grounded, methodical and helpful with protection and abundance. I could also sense the undines, the water Elementals, in the creek, but I couldn’t really see them. Elementals choose the level and form of interaction they make with us. I have never had an elemental interact with me in ordinary reality as strongly as this gnome did.
I left a small offering in gratitude for the beauty of the place and the meeting with the nature spirits and Elementals. I took a few pictures and headed back to the main trail. On my hike out, I thought about why the gnome had stopped me from going on down the trail. Maybe it was being protective of other beings that lived back farther in the forest. Or maybe it was being protective of me. I wondered if there was a cougar den back there, as sightings happened in the area a few times a year.
Later I looked at the pictures I took and almost fell over. In the very first one a trick of the sunlight and shadow had formed a detailed image of a cat next to the gnome. I had a strong feeling then that the gnome was guarding me from disturbing a cougar. Or guarding the cougar from being disturbed by me.
Gratitude filled me. This was a powerful lesson about trusting my second attention, and the messages I receive. The experience also solidly brought home the truth that as we open to knowing nature as beings instead of objects, we can communicate in remarkable ways. But it requires offering respect and a receptive heart instead of projecting the outward force of mental logic. That can be difficult for humans to do sometimes. It is fortunate that nature is patient.
Years ago, a shift occurred in the way I perceived the idea of healing. Several of us who provide Reiki and shamanic services for others were in a group with our mentor, Cheri, discussing the word “healing”. It’s loaded with programmed connotations that assumes a person needing healing is less than healthy, less than whole. Cheri told us that she prefers to use the word tending instead of healing. She said that tending is a gardening word. One tends a garden by pulling weeds, fertilizing the soil, planting seeds. When we work with people shamanically and energetically, that’s more along the lines of what we do. We help remove the weeds that take the form of blockages, intrusions, limiting thoughtforms. We fertilize their soil by balancing the energy centers, returning power and any lost soul essences. Then we plant seeds by giving practical tools that they can use on their own to grow and tend what they want in their lives. I absolutely loved that perspective.
On the other side of that, to say that one is a healer also gives the impression that you are the one healing your clients. This is not true. The return to health is actually done by the client themselves. I, and people like me, are facilitators – or tenders – helping that return to health happen. We can hold the space for the client, and connect them with their helping spirits who do energy work for them. We can bring back messages from helping spirits about what would return them to a state of perfection. We can also be the channel for universal Divine energy to flow through us to the client. But we are just the channel. Once the client receives that Divine energy, their Higher Self and Spirit helpers directs it to where it needs to go.
Using the term "healing" can also put the client in a permanent state of seeking health. As practitioners, we must see the client as already in a perfect state. Then we need to help the client see themselves as being in a perfect state of health and wholeness. This is not delusion. This is putting the power of their energy to work for them. Energy flows where attention goes. The mind is an amazing force. Asking the question, “What is the perfection of the situation right now?” opens the space for the Higher Self and Spirit helpers to come in and show them.
For me the definition of tend in the dictionary is the essence of what I am called to do for others. But the words “healing” and “healer” are the ones most commonly used today, especially in alternative or metaphysical care. I find myself using those words when I don’t want to - just to get my meaning across. But I want to shift away from those terms, which is why I called my website Shamanic Soul Tending.
There is a belief system that is prevalent in our society today that we need someone to fix us. A belief system that says we are not capable of, or do not have the power to return ourselves to perfect health. But a rising tide of scientists and new thinkers* are proving that we hold that ultimate power within ourselves. We will continue to reclaim our power and re-frame the idea of how we heal. We will realize that we are all always in a state of Divine perfection, and that we could all just use a little tending now and again.
*Just a few thoughts from those scientists and new thinkers to shine some more light on the subject.
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 kindred spirits 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 -
Energy Intuitive and Nature Communicator - Cheri Melton's work with Devas and Nature Spirits is profound. So happy to have her as a friend and mentor -