Do you talk to trees?
Do you feel closeness with one special tree, one that you feel speaks to you or even hugs you with its loving energy when you are around it?
Many people feel a kinship with trees, a sacred gratitude in their presence. They can have the aura of a wise guide, a loving grandparent, a mystical sentinel. They are as individual as people. Many folks that work in the spirit realms work with a tree or trees, and many also work with a special place in nature that becomes sacred with the work.
My friend Lawrence Birch, who facilitates the shamanic healing circle with me, had an inspired idea for our circle to work with a “shaman tree”. He shared a great book with me by Evelyn Rysdyk, A Spirit Walker’s guide to Shamanic Tools, in which she talks in great detail about how to create a sacred prayer tree for offerings, prayers, and ceremony. At our May healing circle we asked attendees to bring ideas of trees they know in local places that would be accessible to our group. We asked each person to journey to the tree beforehand to make sure they had their permission to bring them as a nominee. Five trees were brought as possible candidates. Lawrence had a brilliant idea to be the neutral organizer and labeled the trees anonymously A – E. He then led us on short journeys to our helping spirits to choose between two letters, A or B. Afterwards we went around the circle and reported the letter we got, then the one who received the majority went on to the next round, and so on, until only one was left. It was amazing in the last round that almost all of us got the same one. This one became our “shaman tree”, a huge, elder Douglas Fir in Willamette Park at the edge of a quiet, but public clearing.
Our shamanic healing circle met at the tree last weekend. We brought offerings to place in the tall grass and blackberry vines entwining its base, we joined hands around it and sang songs of gratitude, gave it poems and prayers. We journeyed to it and to the surrounding nature spirits. We received messages that were powerful and profound. I was moved very deeply by the experience, as were others. After our circle, I was nudged to the edge of the clearing to take a picture of our tree. The next day I looked at the picture and saw that spirit had honored us in turn by becoming visible light in the photo.
Imagine if a group of people in every city and town came together in community to honor the spirits of nature in all realms. Imagine the pure light of spirit emanating in every one of those circles. Imagine the possibilities for healing our world.
Last night I attended a Full Moon circle organized by Joyelle Petersen and Danielle Heenehan, two amazing women in my town who are bringing back the art of ceremony. The weather was beautiful, so they could hold it outside in a friend’s big backyard. They had rugs, mats and pillows of every color arranged on the grass for the circle. The altar was set up on one side with rattles, drums, sacred herbs. A good crowd of about 15 of us was there at the start time, and we shared tea and snacks we brought. I knew a couple women from other groups, but what struck me was that I felt so easy about talking to the people that I didn’t know, despite my feeling shy in big groups. More women kept trickling in and as I talked to them, I found many times we have some other friend or organization or modality in common.
As the ceremony started and a shamana sang a sacred welcoming song, I looked at the gathering of about 30 women and felt the strong invisible web that we created. We were weavers of our community, teachers, students, moms, grandmothers. Then I could see us in a birds-eye perspective woven together with all the other people coming together in ceremony all over the planet for the full moon, creating our web of light. Visions like that give me great optimism that humanity just might pull through these chaotic times.
Creating ceremony can be hard work. It’s not only just the planning, it takes a devoted energy to hold the sacred space for everyone to come together. I am so grateful that I know people who value ceremony, and have the skills, the heart and respect for the joyful work they take on to feed the spirit of our community.
We are just on the other side of the North American total solar eclipse at 29 degrees Leo. It was the first total eclipse I ever experienced, and it came at the perfect time of my life, in the perfect astrological house at the perfect degree. As it did for everyone I’m sure. For me, this eclipse was all about shadow.
I’ve been in the thick of shadow-work since the new moon in July. It was then that my shamanic path students and I held a fire ceremony to release those things about ourselves that we no longer need; limiting beliefs, cords to things in the past, things we took on from our family and societal tribe that never belonged to us in the first place. We gave them to the fire and asked for release. After that, my Higher Self told me that I can’t get rid of parts of myself that need to be integrated instead, and that it was time for another serious look at shadow work.
Shadow can bring to mind negative connotations of the Dark side, and can evoke images of black magic, sorcery and fear. But when it comes to spiritual and transformational work, shadow means something that you have disowned about yourself. It can be dark or light, positive or negative. You could have disowned your love, your vulnerability, your image of healthy self-worth just as much as you disowned your anger and shame. Whatever you disown, it becomes something you have to reclaim. When you disown something of yourself, light or dark, you lose power. You have to reclaim it to become whole.
There has been a tendency in modern spiritual thought to ignore shadow work. It has been caught up in the dogma of the law of attraction, which says that you attract what you think about or what you feel. So some light-workers don’t want to spend any time thinking about shadow, because they are afraid they will manifest more of it. But in actuality it is one of the highest forms of light work you can do.
There is a reason shadow evokes fear. Most shadow aspects can be tracked back to the emotion of fear. Fear is at the bottom of every well, right back to the root chakra of survival, our limbic system brain, the fight or flight response. When we are little, before we have any emotional maturity at all, we have our limbic brain that regulates our survival. That fear comes from any perceived threat to our survival, whether we think it’s rational or not. As we get older our responses to perceived threat get more sophisticated and we master finer nuances of emotions; envy, shame, arrogance, anger etc. But underneath them all is the foundation of fear. So we need to find fear and look it in the eye, bring it up to a conscious level and integrate it. This is when our heart center meets the limbic brain and embraces it in totality and we become whole.
Sitting under this total solar eclipse, I was blessed to be at home, with myself and my own thoughts and energies. I was eager for a lesson or an energetic assimilation of all the shadow that this eclipse represented. I felt the wind stop as the darkness descended. I took off my protective glasses to see the totality of the dark sphere in the sky, and I felt my primal ancestral self, my limbic brain assert itself and cover me with eerie chills. A lone night bird sang its song for a minute, then stilled as a thin arc of fire came out the other side of the black disc as the shadow moved on across the sun. No channeled messages came from any guides, no epiphanies, no downloads (that I was aware of anyway) that I could take as my lesson. It is only now that I sit with the experience that I see the message in its simplicity, its literalness. Every one of us in that moment was looking at shadow. As within, so without. Perfection in a holographic moment.
When you look at what is coming up in the collective consciousness right now, you see its long snaking roots sunk deep in fear. War, prejudice, hatred, violence are all birthed in fear. Nazism and North Korea threats are echoing two major wars of the last century that have left deep scarring in the psyche of the world. And it’s all coming up to the light of consciousness to be looked at again, and to be owned, integrated and healed now. As the planets move across the sky in the perfect timing of cycles within cycles, we can see that what we have disowned from ourselves is also what humanity has disowned from itself. And that becomes clearer as more and more of us are realizing the energetic connections between us all.
So I encourage you to make the commitment to do your shadow work. Every breakthrough you make on a personal level will ripple out to be mirrored in the collective. You won’t see it on every news channel and Facebook page like a major eclipse of the sun, but know that it’s happening. It’s why you are here now.
When you feel something heavy come up for you, pause and be present, be an observer. How does it feel in your body? Observe emotions, thoughts, images that come up…without judgement. Is it a primal reaction from the limbic brain? Observe yourself making a conscious choice about how to respond from your heart center. Observe yourself owning that shadow aspect, and finding the gift within the darkness. The true gift is in the power you reclaim as you realize your human completeness consists of both light and shadow, but that you choose to respond from the light that lives in your heart center.
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.
FAIRY CONGRESS - Offers a summer weekend gathering in person with workshops, circles and of course faeries and nature beings! They also offer a winter virtual weekend with amazing guest speakers like Orion Foxwood, David Spangler and R.J. Stewart. I highly recommend joining the online network to participate in monthly workshops, circles, and book clubs.
SACRED HOOP Magazine Guide to Shamanism Compilation- http://www.sacredhoop.org/Pages/FreeGuide.html
Owner Valeria Pearson lovingly created SOLE TO SOUL YOGA studio with a community focus. There are classes for all levels and events that lift the spirit. I am delighted to partner with her to offer a kirtan chanting circle once a month.
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.
NEW WORLD KIRTAN = Kitzie's podcasts include interviews with artists and kirtan music. I love attending her weekly Satsang group and the New World Kirtan Band concerts -