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.
Many of today’s most popular shamanic practitioner teachers and authors such as Sandra Ingerman and Michael Stone have been talking about this subject recently on their websites and even holding internet workshops and webinars on the subject. Why is it a hot topic lately? Simply put, it’s the times. And the time is ripe. We have never been more on the brink of changing the status quo of the old paradigm than we are now. We saw recently what grassroots movement can accomplish with Bernie Sanders’ run for Democratic nominee last year. Even though he didn’t win, the power of the people that came together to support him was palpable. It was not the same old power-over that has been in charge for millennia, it was power-with. It was power together, and it was empowerment.
Many of us shamanic practitioners and light-workers have been starting to come together in groups for about the past ten years. We are aware of the way our intentions are strengthened when we are in community together, and have sensed and felt the vibrational ripples flowing out from our gathered energies. Add the sacred intention of ceremony to the power of community and you have a force that changes reality. Ceremony causes a shift in perception, and in the morphic field we call reality. This is how we get things done. This is the reason many of us incarnated here together on the planet at this time.
Corvallis is blessed to have many groups that come together in community to do the good work, whether it’s meditation, metaphysical science, activism, satsang, Reiki or shamanic practice. Some of these are on Meetup.com, or in the local paper community calendar, or just slightly under the public radar by word of mouth.
We are blessed to have at least one regular shamanic journey group that meets once a month here in Corvallis. It’s hosted by a beautiful couple who have a sweet little place out in the country outside of town. Each month someone from the group volunteers an intention for the circle and we bring altar items and journey together on the intention if we feel called. This past May the intention was brought to the group to journey for our town; the land, the community, the spirit. What do we need to know about Corvallis and its spirit helpers, now, or in the past or future? Then we all journeyed about that. Some got glimpses of the future or the past, and some met the spirits who watch over the town. Several of us were drawn to the Willamette River that runs through the town. It’s a very sensitive river, feeling the thoughts and attitudes of the people who live with it and get their drinking water from it. It wanted us to know that, and that it feels when we send our gratitude and when we send our angst about the water being polluted. It is important for all of us to be aware about what we are putting in the water, and how we are using it, but seeing it as polluted isn’t helping it. The gratitude is what it needs to keep its vibration high.
After this journey, the idea came up for a blessing ceremony for the river for our next journey group in June, which coincided with the summer solstice. We decided on a prayer raft of all organic material that we could put our prayers and blessings in and offer to the river. I volunteered to find the raft, as I knew of a tree that had fallen and splintered and was slowly peeling off its layers as it started decomposing. My friend and I went out to that deadfall and she found the perfect piece. When I told Lyn, the facilitator of the circle, that we found the raft, she asked if I would lead the ceremony. I told her that I would be honored. I brought in elements of a despacho to the ceremony because I felt this ceremony was to keep us in right relationship with the river and its spirit helpers. Everyone was asked to bring a couple flowers or offerings to hold their prayers.
Whenever we work with someone, human or spirit, we must always work from a place of permission. I did a journey to the spirit of the river and asked it if it was okay that we did this, and how did they feel about it. We had a great chat about its helpers and which of them would help guide the raft. The main thing that the river wanted in the prayer blessings was love and respect. After we blew those prayers into the offerings and assembled the raft, we journeyed for any other prayers, messages, or gifts to add energetically. After opening the circle, we all went down to the river and offered it to the spirits. One of the women brought rose petals from her garden which we sprinkled along with the current. Watching the raft float downriver with its little beeswax candle twinkling as dusk fell was a moment of beauty and power than none of us will soon forget. I think of the river spirit whenever I turn my faucet on, and send it love and gratitude.
Our journey group is planning to add more ceremony to our gatherings, to shift our senses into sacred work that creates the world we want to live in together. What are you doing in your community? How can we link up our communities into a movement for anchoring the new paradigm, where nature has a voice that is listened to and respected, where the Divine Feminine is honored and in balance with the Divine Masculine?
We had a beautiful despacho ceremony for the Vernal Equinox on March 20. I frequently feel called to offer a despacho on the equinoxes or solstices and open the ceremony up to friends and community. To explain what they are, I can’t say it any better than shamanic teacher Alberto Villodo, so I am including what he says about them:
“A despacho is a prayer bundle or offering. For hundreds of years, the Laika (high shamans or wisdomkeepers of the Q’ero lineage of Peru) have used the despacho ceremony for a wide variety of occasions – births, deaths, as an expression of gratitude, to heal physical and emotional ailments, to restore balance and harmony, or when there is a specific request of the spirit world.” (http://thefourwinds.com/blog/shamanism/what-is-a-despacho/)
I’ve had friends who have visited in Peru and they have told me that they are even used for what we would call mundane things, like before a shopping trip. I think this shows their concept of themselves as having a dynamic relationship with Spirit all the time, and their mindfulness of keeping in right relationship with all that is. I use the term Spirit here to include all beings of an etheric form; Nature Spirits, elementals, ancestors, spirit guides, the Creator, just to name a few.
This reciprocity can be a gift for all the blessings in life; past, present and future. In a way they are like love letters of gratitude, streaming out energetically into the web of life.
The traditional despacho is done with offerings that are wrapped in paper and then burned in a fire to release the prayers. My mentor, Cheri, was gifted the vision of a water despacho. It works with the elemental force of water. After the prayers and gifts are added to the bowl of water, the MariEL Medicine Power Symbol is used to energize the offering with the blessing and power of the Divine Feminine. Then it is offered to a body of water or to the earth. I make sure to use all organic, compostable items in the despacho, so I am feeding nature with nature.
When I journeyed about where to offer this one, I got that the forest park behind our apartments would be happy to accept the gift of the despacho. So after it cooked for 2 days on my altar, I scouted a good spot for it under some fallen logs that felt right, near the trailhead. My friend Yvonne and I offered it there on the World waters day on March 22nd.
Ceremony is a lovely way to deepen your connection with your own spiritual practice. Including friends or community amplifies and expands the energy, raising the consciousness vibration of all. It’s a beautiful gift all the way around. Thank you to everyone who shared their prayers and their energy.
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 -