Notes on a Women’s Shamanic
Intensive Retreat
in Pennsylvania’s
Endless Mountains: Part Six

 Swan Medicine & Past Life Healing

Swan waits patiently for us to call upon her to take us "through the mirror" and into the past when a past life healing is required.

Swan waits patiently for us to call upon her to take us “through the mirror” when a past life healing is required.

It never occurred to us, when we chose to remain open to whatever animal spirits appeared to assist us with our healing work over the weekend, that the shamanic archetype taking the form of Swan would be one of them. Nor had it occurred to us that the chronic pain one of the women was experiencing might be the result of a past life trauma. However, when I shamanically scanned her as she spoke of her pain, observing the shamanic energies available to assist in her healing, it gradually became clear that the underlying, hidden source of her present-life pain syndrome was a violent trauma which had occurred in a past life in medieval Europe. The pain she was feeling in the present was an echo, or a mirror reflection, of the impact of the intrusive energy of that long-ago trauma. That energy, which had followed her through several reincarnations, had been awakened in this lifetime by a recent physical injury.

Swan is the animal spirit feminist shamans work with when attempting to heal the impact of past life trauma on present life experience. In shamanic reality, Swan has the power to carry us safely back through time into the exact moment in a person’s past life when the trauma being mirrored by the present-day distress originally occurred. During such shamanic journeys, we can observe the sequential dynamics of the causal situation, and intervene in any number of ways to shift things in that time and place so that the trauma either never occurs, or is healed in the past life at the time and in the place where it took place.

Painting by ScarletGallery No. K334: Deer, Shamanic Southw/c and pastel on 300# hot press w/c paper22 x 26” – Price: $1200Available through the Center’s art gallery,Turtle Mountain Mythic Art

Painting by Scarlet Kinney
Gallery No. K334: Deer, Shamanic South
w/c and pastel on 300# hot press w/c paper
22 x 26” – Price: $1200
Available through the Center’s art gallery,
Turtle Mountain Mythic Art

Swan is found in the shamanic South. When one enters the shamanic South during a shamanic journey, one discovers a lush, water-rich summer landscape glistening beneath a bright noonday sun. If one walks into the tropical forest that is the first feature of the landscape one encounters, and follows a path South along the East bank of a North-flowing stream of pure water, one will eventually arrive at the central geographical feature of the shamanic South –a beautiful Waterfall of the kind one finds in tropical forests. Along the way to the Waterfall, one is likely to encounter Deer, whose shamanic “home” is also the South. Climbing the cliff to the east of the waterfall, one eventually arrives at the Great Marsh which feeds it. This is Swan’s home in the shamanic South, and this is where one begins the long journey with Swan back in time to the client’s past life.

I’ve done many such shamanic healings that all began in this manner; by greeting Swan at the edge of the Great Marsh and asking to be taken back into the client’s past life. Such journeys are always the stuff of high adventure, but this particular case required that I undertake two separate journeys, each involving a long piece of unusually dangerous shamanic work, in order to shamanically interrupt and reorganize the sequence of events that led to the original trauma. With a great deal of help from a goddess archetype active in that time, I finally prevailed, and the causal trauma was undone.

In every such healing I’ve ever undertaken, clients have reported back to me that they didn’t feel any change immediately, but that over time the issue and its symptoms gradually became less troublesome, until finally they were gone. Curious about this phenomenon after a client once reported the very clearly incremental nature of the healing’s effect, I sought a shamanic teaching about it from Swan. What Swan revealed during that journey was that the reason for this felt sense of gradual, rather than immediate relief when a client has experienced this particular type of shamanic healing, is that the healing moves forward through time incrementally, lifetime through lifetime, beginning with the lifetime in which the trauma and healing occurred, until at last its benefit reaches the person in her present life. Hopefully that will be the case for this woman as well.

Posted in 2015 In Pennsylvania's Endless Mountains

Notes on a Women’s Shamanic Intensive Retreat in Pennsylvania’s Endless Mountains: Part Five

Lizard Medicine & Feminist Shamanic Dream Healing  

Sunset 2

Dreaming in the Endless Mountains

lizard 3

The Dreamer

One of the women at the Intensive, who deals with a challenging family history on an ongoing basis, reported having recurring nightmares related to that history, and it soon became clear that in order to free her from the distress this dream was causing her, I would need to undertake a shamanic reorganization and healing of the dream’s content. Lizard medicine would now be joining us at the farm. The shamanic  archetype, or animal spirit helper taking the form of Lizard is the ultimate shamanic “dreamer,” and is found in the shamanic West, where perpetual twilight and sunset create a mysterious and powerful atmosphere. In feminist shamanic training, one gradually develops a solid relationship with a particular Lizard who volunteers to be one’s guide and advisor for this kind of dream healing. (Doing this type of deep shamanic work is an advanced healing method, and should only undertaken by fully trained feminist shamans.) As I begin the journey, Lizard carries me over the Dark Mountains which are located at the center of the shamanic West, and down their obsidian slopes into the far West of the West, to the greening circle in the heart of the desert there, where the Bear Shamans raise the Shaman’s Tree in time of need. This is not at all what I expect (as is usually the case in shamanic journeys, and is an indicator that one is, in fact, observing and interacting with events in shamanic reality and not “imagining” them). The Shaman’s Tree is a huge tree in which shamans-to-be are nurtured and prepared to become shamans prior to birth, so that they will be able to find their way to a shaman’s path and handle the responsibilities inherent in accepting such a calling. The Bear Chief approaches me and speaks: “This woman was meant to be birthed as a shaman. The childhood behaviors she exhibited, which were identified by her family as “bad,” were actually signs of her shamanic talents, and had we been able to birth her into a tribal family system, would most likely have been recognized as such. As it is, before she can fully accept her calling and act upon it, the wounds of her childhood must be healed.” Because of the particular nature of these wounds, I’m advised that her healing must be carried out by the Twelve Grandmothers who reside within the cavern of the Snake Goddess in the shamanic West. After thanking the Bear Chief for this guidance, Lizard tells me that the particular dream awaiting healing can only be entered by means of journeying down one of the roots of the Shaman’s Tree. We enter the trunk of the tree. Lizard identifies the correct root, and we move ever deeper into shamanic reality as we travel down and down, eventually entering the actual dream itself. With Lizard’s guidance, I interact with the dream content to bring about the healing the dream indicates is needed. Once the reorganization has been accomplished, we return to ordinary consciousness, tracing our steps, thanking the Bear Chief as we emerge from the tree, climbing back up, over and down the obsidian slopes of the Dark Mountains. Once back in the desert plain of the East of the shamanic West, I thank Lizard, offering him a small glittering crystal as a gift. When I emerge from the journey, I share all the details of my adventure with Lizard with the circle, and a lively discussion of its meaning ensues. The next night, the woman for whom I did the journey had a dream that made it clear that the healing had been successful. She will do the work with the Twelve Grandmothers over the coming year, and we will revisit this issue during our next gathering in the mountains. After we had all returned to our respective homes, I received the following message from her: “…I just wanted to let you know that thus far I remain nightmare free since the Intensive. I’m so grateful for the chance to get some truly restful sleep!”

Posted in 2015 In Pennsylvania's Endless Mountains, Feminist Shamanic Intensives & Retreats, Primary posts

Notes on a Women’s Shamanic Intensive in Pennsylvania’s Endless Mountains: Part Four

PART FOUR: Sea Turtle Goddess Teachings

K299 Turtle & Stone Woman Dream No. 5

Illustration for “BOOK ONE: The Place of the Springs,” from my “Stone Heart Turtle People” book series. Watercolor and pastel on 300# hp w/c paper. 20 x 29″

In Feminist Shamanic teachings, Sea Turtle’s home is at the Center of the Medicine Wheel Mandala, where she holds the entire archetypal content of the mandala in perfect stability and balance, a metaphor for the psychological stability we may eventually earn by means of ongoing feminist shamanic practice. She floats dependably and serenely upon a vast and mysterious sea, above the hidden home of the most ancient of shamanic goddesses – the Sea Turtle Goddess.   Each year during Intensives, she guides us in a Sea Turtle Incubation Ceremony, during which we symbolically “bury” a shamanically inspired project we want to complete. During that process, this Ancient One offers us guidance about the process of incubating our projects from their egg – or dream – stage, until they are ready to be “born” into physical reality.

K296 Stone Woman and Turtle Dream No. 1 crop

Crop from cover image for “BOOK ONE: The Place of the Springs,” from “The Stone Heart Turtle People” series.

Some of the teachings received from the Sea Turtle Goddess during this year’s Sea Turtle Incubation Ceremony include the following:

1. As we grow stronger shamanically, the “weight of the patriarchal world” bears down on us more heavily in response to our increased feminine strength.  One of the symptoms of this pressure is a tendency to periodically or continually choose some “spiritually asleep” activity, which dulls our shamanic consciousness and power, over shamanic practice. Each time we do so, we are unconsciously succumbing to the enormous pressures of our patriarchal culture to remain or return to being spiritually and psychologically “asleep” women, incapable of bringing about the change in world consciousness that Earth now requires.  Remember this each time you must choose one or the other. Be conscious of the choice you’re making.

2. The Great Mother/Mythic Feminine is slowly awakening. Women and the Great Mother/Mythic Feminine are interactive. Each time you choose awakening over returning to or remaining psychologically and spiritually asleep, you help the Great Mother/Mythic Feminine to awake. Each time she awakens more, she helps us to resist succumbing to the pressures of patriarchy to return to a state of spiritual and psychological unconsciousness.

3. Each woman must measure herself up against the enormous weight and pressures of patriarchal culture, and be realistic about how much “patriarchal weight” she can carry before she can’t bear any more. Don’t try to carry more of this weight than you can bear. Instead, remember that there are women all over the world who, like you, are engaged in the sacred dance between the awakening Mother and awakening women, and that you are part of that sacred dance. You do not have to bear the weight of the entire burden of dealing with patriarchal pressures on your own. Place something on your altar to remind you of how large or small a burden of patriarchal pressure you can actually handle, and be true to this fact about yourself.

4. Create a “room of your own” in which to meditate on these teachings – a space that is yours alone, in a place and of a size that you can protect from the intrusive energies of others…and use it.

You can learn more about feminist shamanic teachings about the Center position within the Medicine Wheel Mandala in my new booklet, “Shamanic First Aid for Today’s Woman.” 

Posted in Primary posts Tagged with: , , , ,

Notes on a Women’s Shamanic Intensive Retreat in Pennsylvania’s Endless Mountains: Part Three

 Part Three: Mother Light Opening Smudge Ceremony

Calling Mother Light

Calling Mother Light

Feminist shamanic workshops, circles, and Intensives are begun with a Mother Light Smudge Ceremony, during which we connect with the feminine energy of the Earth in the specific place in which we’re gathering, by means of shamanic drumming, singing, and chanting. “Stretch Eyes” is a shamanic practice which allows us to “see” past the veils of ego consciousness into the directional landscapes of shamanic reality as the sacred smoke of the smudge is offered to each direction.

As the person conducting the smudge lights the sage wand and offers it to the Four Directions, and to Earth and Sky, she and the other women in the circle practice “stretch eyes” to visualize the shamanic landscapes of the Four Directions. When the person smudging has completed her smudge of the space, the circle, her shamanic tools and herself, she passes the smudge stick or resin bowl on to the person to her left, so that it passes around the circle in a clockwise manner, and begins drumming and singing the shamanic song/chant “Mother Light.” As she does so, she asks that the Earth lend some of her hidden light and energy to the circle, sending it upwards to surround, bless and protect the circle and its work. As each person around the circle finishes smudging herself and her shamanic tools, she passes the smudge to the next person, and joins in the drumming and singing. The music increases in intensity with each person who joins in, and we all enter the kind of light shamanic trance that enables us to “see” the Earth’s light and energy rising in response to our musical request that it do so. We may also see various animal spirits and other shamanic energies that inhabit the particular part of the earth upon which we’re working. The following is a description of my experience of performing a Mother Light Smudge Ceremony to open our Intensive retreat in the Endless Mountains, where Deer medicine abounds.

Singing, drumming, and chanting, we call upon Mother Light, the feminine light energy which lives deep within the earth, to inspire and guide our work. As this pure energy emerges from the earth, revealing its form and shamanic power to us, each of us “sees” the light rising up from the earth in slightly different ways, because of our individual medicines and levels of shamanic consciousness. Because of a shoulder injury I sustained during the past year, I’m unable to drum, but I’ve brought two pair of juvenile buck antlers I received as a gift, which I tap together to set the rhythm for the other’s drums. As I relax into shamanic visionary consciousness in response to the powerful percussion and music we’re making, I see shafts of pale blue light emerging from Earth, spiraling upwards towards Sky as they form a protective circle of power around the farmhouse.

“Deer at Home in the Shamanic South” – w/c and pastel by Scarlet Kinney. Available through Turtle Mountain Mythic Art.

A group of does and bucks emerges from the forest, dancing with the drums and the blue-white spirals of light, the bucks outside the light-circle, the does inside, their hooves stamping to the beat of the drums, moving clockwise as they go. Several Ancient Ones, women, perhaps feminine spirit echoes of  original inhabitants of these mountains, now appear, shimmering and transparent, dressed in deerskin, and begin dancing with the deer, weaving in and out among the spiraling towers of light. Now small flocks of birds appear, like those we had seen earlier while walking on the steep hill on which the farm is located.  The birds in one flock are brilliant yellow, in the other, black and white. They fly among the light-spirals above the dancing deer and women, filling the air with birdsong. Everything but the shamanic vision I’m witnessing disappears from consciousness. The movements of the deer dancers, the brilliance of the blue-while spirals of light, the sound of the drums and the clicking antlers, and of our voices, overlaid with birdsong, are all I can now see or hear. The light pulses and expands, blessing the earth upon which we will walk for the next few days, bathing us in its healing power, strengthening and preparing us for the work that is to come. Slowly, the vision fades, and I return to my ordinary state of consciousness. We are ready to begin.

A recording of Mother Light is available through my web site store as part of my feminist shamanic journey drumming CD.

Posted in 2015 In Pennsylvania's Endless Mountains

Notes on a Women’s Intensive Retreat in Pennsylvania’s Endless Mountains: Part Two

PART TWO: Inner Practice & Outer Expression

The sun rising beyond the mountains.

The sun rising beyond the mountains.

We had arrived at the farm in a state of discouragement about the events of the past year, and the future of our small, scattered community of women. Because our discouragement was so profound, we decided to begin our own personal healing work by shamanically looking at its causes. Being women, we naturally gravitated toward introspection: What was wrong with us? What mistakes had we made? What could we do better?  The basic underlying issue seemed to be that the problems women face in today’s world are caused by the monolithic weight of the patriarchal pressures we must deal with on a daily basis, and because of who we are, we are particularly sensitive to those pressures. It all seemed like too much to take on; it felt as though our small voices advocating for balance between Feminine and Masculine energies were being lost; were being suffocated and oppressed by those relentless patriarchal pressures.

Whatever your personal feminine practice may be, I’d like to share with you some of the guidance we received about this issue, in the event you, too, are feeling a similar kind of discouragement as you contribute to the rebalancing of Earth and Sky energies, which have been dangerously skewed by thousands of years of patriarchy. These are some of the teachings and guidance we received regarding this issue:

Connecting

~ Women all over the world giving love to the Earth and to other women is what we can do.

~ It doesn’t have to be a coordinated local community effort. All women working towards Earth/Sky-Feminine/Masculine balance can be connected in the most feminine of ways, as a web of relationships with Earth.

~ Each new stage of feminine shamanic growth is initiated by a test which challenges the status quo in ways that shatter it, making room for the next stage of growth to develop.

~ The challenge of maintaining one’s personal feminine shamanic practice and accomplishing one’s life goals and tasks in the face of deep discouragement is a test; something we must master if we are to reach the next level of feminine shamanic consciousness. Discouragement is not evidence of failure. It’s a sign that one is about to break through into a new level of awareness.

~ Don’t try to measure the success of your personal feminine spiritual practice by patriarchal, western standards of success. They don’t apply.

~ Rather, measure your success by how well you have encouraged and supported the women you encounter who also seek feminine wisdom, however few they may be, so that they may be empowered by your encouragement and support to share that wisdom with other women, each according to her own gifts.

~ One of the greatest flaws of patriarchal religions and cultures is that they suffer from the delusion that they are the only one, true religion, or the best of all cultures, and are therefore suitable for all people in all parts of the world. This belief is responsible for much of the suffering humanity has experienced throughout history.

~ One of the primary teachings of feminist shamanism is that it is an earth-centered practice, and as such, arises directly from Earth, not “descending” upon one from Sky. It therefore takes on many forms, depending upon the specific geographies in which it arises. It is understood that shamanic cosmologies arising in one geographic location are not suitable for the kind of one-fits-all transfer to other locations and cultures that patriarchy embraces. The aspects of feminist shamanism which are suitable for transfer or sharing across geographies and cultures, however, are the feminist shamanic structures, practices, forms, and processes by which women can discover and align themselves with the animal and plant spirits, and with other shamanic energies and needs of the particular part of the earth upon which they walk, and so develop healing relationship with the earth upon which they walk.

~ In these times, it is very important that women learn how to find meaning in their own lives in the places on the earth where they live, love, and work. Discovering one’s personal myth, or story, as it relates to one’s connection with the land upon which one lives, is crucial to finding that meaning. It is for this reason that I was given the practices and sequential shamanic procedures required to teach women how to successfully “find” their personal myth. To learn more about this teaching: http://thestandingbear.com/shamanic-myth-writing-seminar/

Posted in 2015 In Pennsylvania's Endless Mountains