Archive for the ‘ Spirituality ’ Category

Heading West – Kind of…

Horse as Teacher Book 1

Before leaving on my road trip, my colleague and partner in the Horse as Teacher book series, Kathy Pike, had asked if I would stand in for her shamanic teacher in her workshop in June in Carbondale, Colorado. I had agreed, thinking it would be on my way back home. However, when I found out my brother and his band, Snydley Whiplash, were having a 25th anniversary reunion for the 4th of July, I wanted to be there for the performance. I also wanted to go back to Arkansas to meet with more of the women and see if the land was truly drawing me to be there.

In the end, I decided to make a dash to Colorado without stopping along the way for sightseeing. After teaching at the workshop, I would see where the road led me. At that point, I would either go back to South Dakota or head west from there.

Kathy’s workshop was the 3rd of 4 held over a year’s time for her apprenticeship program, teaching students to become Equine Facilitated Learning and Coaching practitioners and facilitators. This week-long session was focused on the internal work the participants needed to do to become a practitioner. Kathy has a shamanic colleague who had been there the first two sessions, but couldn’t teach in this one.

I arrived the two days before the start to help Kathy prepare. We went to pick up her assistant Reggie from the airport the night I arrived. Reggie is a therapist who decided to follow her path of working with horses and after living 60+ years in New York, moved to Texas just before meeting Kathy and starting to work as her assistant. Holding space for all of the horses, participants, and other people involved is a big effort. We were also all three staying in Kathy’s small casita, so being able to work well together was critical. The three of us had a great time, balancing each other throughout the week.

Coaching With Horses Workshop Ranch

The next morning we drove the 30 miles to the ranch where the workshop was being held. The drive out was spectacular, taking us into a long, gradually narrowing valley, the road winding along a tree-lined river. The pastures were filled with horses as we weaved our way to the far end of the valley. The ranch sat below a beautiful view of a show-capped mountain, the water flowing past dandelion-filled pastures, the horses grazing contentedly in the bright sun. This was a little piece of heaven.

The first three days of the week would be an experiential workshop. In that portion, there would be one person who was not part of the year-long program. The rest would finish the week, but Blaine was only there for the first session. Kathy had explained on the way that he was the husband of a woman who would be taking the program the next year, and he was there to experience some of what Tracy would explore. She had also explained that he was a minister and wasn’t sure how the Shamanic piece of the workshop would be for him.

That question was answered immediately when we met. It was an instant, deep connection. As we walked to the stand of trees by the small waterfall from the pond to the creek that I had chosen for our teaching, he started peppering me with questions. Blaine is a handsome, curious man with a deep strength and gentleness that is perfectly suited for the work he does. I definitely felt that we had had many conversations in many lifetimes.

Setting of Shamanic Teaching

The other participants were also very curious and connected to the shamanic teachings I shared with them. I taught them to journey to find their power animals and a spirit guide for the work they would be doing during the next few days. Then they journeyed to those spirits to find out what they needed to change or remove from their path in order to move forward. I also explained the medicine wheel, making sacred space, and creating rituals and daily practices, no matter how that looks for each person. There seemed to be a number of breakthroughs in the teaching session, and much more as the week progressed.

The next day, I took the other half of the group to the teaching space. Again, there were profound learnings that they shared with me. The setting, the subject, and the participants, as well as the facilitators made the week a very powerful grounding experience. But most of all were the horses. They are most amazing beings.

As events unfolded after returning to South Dakota, I began to see what had compelled me to go home. It didn’t take long.

My brother Tony and his wife Sandi and their children, Danielle, Kelsey, and Andrew, had moved from the farmhouse where I had grown up into my parent’s house in town a few months earlier. I had originally planned to stay at the farm, since I would have my own space and time to roam and reminisce. However, no matter how much you want to go back to what you have known, it’s never the same. The moment I walked in the house, I knew it wasn’t going to be what I had envisioned.

Instead, Tony set up his fifth-wheel trailer in front of the house in town and I had my own space to set up my office and be close but not in their way. Then the winter storms that had followed me across country came. For a couple of weeks it alternated between threats of snow and rain. Mind you, this was in May! South Dakota had been drenched all spring, and it continued. I came to find out that was true across all of the western states when I finally turned my car west toward home. However, that was a ways down the road, literally and figuratively.

My niece Kelsey was graduating from high school so I jumped in to help prepare for the celebration and events involved in that rite of passage. I also caught up with work, editing several projects. The days were full.

Then one day as I was working, my brother knocked on the door and asked if I wanted to talk with his banker. Kevin was there for his annual visit with Tony about the farm loans from his bank. Apparently, the bankers there go to the farmer. As it happens, Kevin was also my family business’s banker and Tony thought it would be good for me to meet him in person.

As we talked, Tony said that he had talked with Kevin about the possibility of selling the family land. This was huge news, as Tony farmed the land, and by being willing to sell it, he was in effect saying he was ready to walk away from the only thing he had ever done.

Kevin suggested that now was the best time in terms of land values. The recession hadn’t affected the prices of farm land and they were at their highest. He said that the market was still going up, but that he wasn’t sure how long that would last. There was also the consideration that capital gains taxes would be going up considerably at the end of the year.

After Kevin left, I talked with Tony and we decided to bring it to the family call we held every other week. When my siblings heard about our conversation, it was decided that since I was already there, the others would travel home for Memorial Day weekend and we would have our annual retreat to decide if we would actually sell the land and how that would look if we did. Because of the sensitive nature, we were not to tell anyone what our purpose was. Fortunately, we have had annual meetings before, so our many cousins and relatives weren’t curious.

Not only could I not write about this part of my trip due to the confidentiality, my energy was suddenly focused on the emotional impact on my family of selling the family land. I knew then why I was meant to be there. My days were filled with phone calls between siblings and visits to the county courthouse to get information. What I realized was just how much I didn’t know about the land I had grown up on. A whole new world was revealed. And because Tony and I had always been close, I was able to spend quality time with him talking about the decision and how that would impact him.

During this time, I realized how much my shamanic work and my coaching really helped see perspectives that did not come easily to everyone. We are very fortunate. My siblings all get along very well. We communicate well and each of us brings our individual talents to the family business.

Of my seven siblings, several were ready to sell, but two were not. While Tony was no longer eager to farm, he still wanted to find a way to maintain some land for his horses. Carol also wanted to build a hunting lodge, but didn’t have the money reserves to purchase any of the land on her own. After many phone calls, I suggested that she and Tony buy back some of the land after we had sold the rest. We were almost certain that one or more of our cousins would be highly interested in purchasing the land. I was sure that they would agree to that type of swap.

Once that question was answered, the rest of the pieces started to fall into place. When we met at the retreat, we wrote down our intentions and our objectives for the weekend. In the end, all of them were met with love, joy, and excitement. We decided to sell the land. We called our cousin Max and asked him if he was interested. He was. He made a generous offer and we accepted. We are now in the midst of finalizing the deal. Max offered some of the land to his brothers and another cousin, and by the end of the year, it will have transferred hands to them.

Because money is energy, and this opened up a new flow of that energy to everyone, several of us experienced a release of things that have been blocked for years. Houses sold, jobs changed for the better, and for me, suddenly I had more work than I could keep up with. I’ve experienced how not having money can affect your life. The irony is that even though the deal isn’t complete, the energy has shifted. This was a huge realization for me and has affected me in a multitude of ways. Although I didn’t have money in the bank, I FELT prosperous. It was coming from within and the law of attraction shifted into high gear.

Falling In Love With the Land

After Kelsey’s graduation and before Memorial Day, I squeezed in a trip to Arkansas to visit my good friend Timido. She had been trying for years to get me to come and visit her. In college, I had sold books door-to-door in Memphis, Tennessee and had spent quite a bit of that time in eastern Arkansas. I could remember no reason for me to be excited about visiting the state again.

However, I had never been to the northwestern part of the state, Fayetteville to be specific. What a surprise!

Thirty years ago, a friend of Timido’s had purchased 300 acres on the side of a mountain in the Ozarks. She had created a women’s community, putting the land in a trust. Timido was a member of the community, and envisioned her friends from the NW would join her someday. I was one of many targets.

I was smitten with the land. It is enchanting, peaceful, and beautiful. I awoke every morning and hiked for miles, exploring the rough roads and trails. I am one of those fortunate people who aren’t affected by bugs, and so despite walking in lush meadows and through forests, the chiggers and ticks stayed away. I was the envy of the other women.

As I prepared to leave to go back to Omaha on my way to South Dakota, I felt a deep longing to stay there in the beauty of the land. It was the first time I had felt that way about a place other than the NW in a very long time. Timido suggested that I consider becoming a member of the landholder’s group. She had arranged for me to meet as many women on the land as possible, but because several were gone, I would have to return if I were going to apply. One of the requirements of becoming a member is to have approval from all of the other members. I told her I would think about it.

On one of my many hikes around the land, I had seen an old shack sitting on a ledge above the road. Exploring what was left of the buildings, I looked out from the rickety deck. The trees had grown up in front of where I stood, but I could see that it was a stunning view. Rolling mountains, a beautiful valley below, and just beyond the road, I saw one of the ponds that had been built on the land. I felt at home and at peace.

On my drive back to Omaha, that piece of land kept calling me. I was so entranced, that I missed my exit and two hours later discovered I had been driving east, not north! That had never happened to me before on my many miles of driving. At first I was very mad at myself. It was already a ten hour drive, and I had just added four hours to it! However, something shifted in me that day. My spirit guides calmed me down, showing me the beauty of what was around me that I wouldn’t have seen if I had not gone the wrong way. They showed me that it was all in my perspective. I could be mad or I could enjoy what I was experiencing. Either way, I was already there and couldn’t change the circumstances. It was my choice to let the lower frequency energy overtake my joy. Or to be in a space of gratitude and self-forgiveness.

I looked around me as I drove through SW Missouri. There were rolling hills, with layers of green, under a beautiful sky with puffy clouds. It was really just about the most idyllic drive I had been on the entire trip. I was taking the back roads, so there was very little traffic. It was extraordinary.

I settled in to drive back to my road when my shamanic mentor, Jan Engels-Smith, called me to ask about some work she needed help with. I have never heard her be frustrated, but, as she said, she was having a hard time being in her joy at that moment. I chuckled, because I had just been in that same space only moments before. I told her what I had just done, and by the time we hung up, we were both laughing. One of Jan’s favorite sayings was “Choose joy in adversity.” Sometimes you just have to be reminded of what you already know.

By the time I reached Nebraska, I had a complete vision of what my house would look like on the land in Arkansas, where each room would be, and even what pictures would adorn the walls. For the next several weeks, I would fall asleep to the image and wake to the dream. I had never experienced anything like it. It felt like I had fallen in love.

I began to look at the possibility of returning to Arkansas to meet all of the women and really decide if that was where I was meant to be. Much of it would depend on how the Memorial Day Weekend shaped up, and if I was still going to be teaching a workshop in Colorado in June.

It’s been awhile since I made a blog post. It wasn’t that I didn’t have anything to say. In fact, this quest became much more than I had ever imagined it would be, an odyssey that took me 13 weeks, 13,400 miles, and through 13 national parks and monuments. Somewhere along the way, as I traveled roads new and familiar, I realized it was a retrospective look at what has shaped me, and at the same time, gave me new perspectives on how to transform and move forward.

So I will go back and reconstruct some of the amazing moments, life-changing experiences, and incredible insights I was so fortunate to have.

When last I posted, I was on my way to visit family. I’ll breeze through some of this, so as not to bore you. However, there are a few things that I’ll share here because they were either shamanic in nature, or have an impact on stories I will share later.

Having had the challenges I had on the first part of my journey, with sickness, finances, and juggling work with travel, I was relieved to arrive at my eldest sister Linda’s in Omaha, Nebraska.

When I was 11, Linda came home from a summer selling books door-to-door after her freshman year in college. She handed me a tape series by Zig Ziglar, called See You At the Top. It was my introduction to personal development information, and I was hooked.

Linda, who became highly successful in sales and recruiting and is now a professional speaker and trainer, has influenced me in so many ways, I’ve lost track. Not only did she introduce me to the world of self-help, she steered me to coaching and to the idea of creating collaborative books by coaches. She has been much more than a sister to me; she’s a mentor, a colleague, and a confidante.

Linda and Reece

I stayed with Linda, her husband Jerry, and son Reece for four days before I moved on to visit Carol, my youngest sister, who lives in Sioux City, Iowa with her husband Brad, and sons Liam and Aiden. Within minutes after walking in the door, Carol looked at me and said, “You look like you need to have a massage. Let me treat you to one.” (I think she had noticed that I couldn’t even stand up straight.) Within minutes, we had an appointment for the next day.

The next morning, as I was preparing to leave for that appointment, Carol’s good friend and next-door neighbor Shelley popped in. She and her husband Brian had finished building their house in the fall, and in February they had awakened to a fire that completely destroyed the interior of the house. Luckily, no one was hurt, but they had to move out for 4 months while the house was rebuilt.

Shelley didn’t know I was in town, so was surprised to see me. We talked for a bit, then I said I had to leave for my massage with Kathy Awtry. She said that she was also seeing Kathy that day, just after me! The universe works in mysterious ways, as you will see.

During my session with Kathy, we talked about my study of shamanism and the healing and energy work I do in depossession and soul retrievals. She was fascinated and full of questions.

A couple of hours after my massage, Shelley called me and had barely said hello when she asked me what I do. After I clarified that she was asking about my shamanic work, she said that after she had explained to Kathy what was going on for her, Kathy had suggested Shelley call me to have me do some work on her and her house.

Apparently, she and Brian, as well as their children, had been seeing a spirit in their house prior to the fire, specifically a woman. Neither had ever had experience with spirits, but they felt strongly that she was somehow involved with the fire. They had also been experiencing behaviors that weren’t typical in their relationship, with lots of anger and frustration, before the fire, as well as after.

Having never had any experience clearing energy for houses or land, I wasn’t sure what I would do. I decided I would approach it the same way I would a person: call in the spirits, do a drumming extraction while journeying, and let the spirits guide me in what to do next.

What an amazing experience! I immediately saw the woman in my mind. She was afraid, but not of me or Brian and Shelley. She was, in fact, trying to help them. It was her abusive husband’s spirit that she was protecting them from. His spirit was also there, elusive, lurking, trying to avoid me and what I was doing. The woman explained that he had not only abused her, but had ended up killing her, dumping her body in the nearby lake, and no one had ever discovered or said anything about her disappearance.

She went on to explain that he was an evil man who had caused a lot of people harm. They had lived on the property, and the image I was shown was of a run-down trailer in a very destitute trailer park on the land Shelley and Brian and Carol and Brad had built their houses on.

The woman had been trying to warn Shelley and Brian that her husband’s spirit was trying to do them harm, that he was the cause of the change in behavior, and that they needed to protect themselves from him. It was not her, but his energy that had started the fire.

After I finished drumming and worked with my spirit helpers to pass their souls to the light, I shared with Shelley what the spirits had shown me. She was flabbergasted. She confirmed everything that I had relayed to her. Brian had grown up in a nearby town, and had told her that there had been a trailer park, that it was a very poor area of town not that many years before, and that there were several not-so-nice men who had lived in the area.

I suggested to her that we do a depossession for her and Brian as well. We did one for her that night, although Brian was out of town.

The next day, Shelley said that the energy in the house was completely different. She hadn’t even wanted to go into the house, but after the work I did, was now completely free of that feeling. When Brian came home a few days later, he confirmed the same for him.

I let them know that when I passed through again on my way to Arkansas, I would give Brian a session, too. They were both relieved to know the cause of their misfortune, and were eager to know more about shamanism and energy work.

The next day, I headed to my hometown, Howard, South Dakota.

Arriving in Denver was the demarcation point between Phase 1 of my scenic tour through the National Parks and my gentle glide into my home state of South Dakota and visiting relatives along my path to get there. I feel like I am going through a sort of retrospective, not surprising as my 50th birthday is on the horizon.

Seeing my niece Christina is always great. She is beautiful, inside and out. This was the first time meeting her fiancé, Justin, and I truly enjoyed our conversations and time together.

Justin had to work the next day, and Christina had class in the morning, so instead of going to Rocky Mountain National Park, Christina and decided to go see Body Worlds & The Story of the Heart at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and then go see Hubble at the IMAX theatre in the same building.

Body Worlds & The Story of the Heart had come to Portland, but for some reason, it didn’t appeal to me to see real human bodies that had been stripped literally to the veins and tendons. But a few months ago a friend had mentioned that she had really been amazed with the exhibition. Christina had heard that as well. So we went.

What an amazing creation our body is! Especially the heart, from which everything else expands. If it is true that we create in our imaginations what happens in our experience, then we are amazing creators of an intricate spiritual machine. If that is the case, just think of all that we can create with even more limitless thinking. Seeing each organ, each capillary, the systems that carry us, that move us, that inspire us. It was truly a fascinating exhibit that made me realize how precious and amazing life is.

And to think that the human body is only one of millions of species of beings operating from a heart, with systems that function in perfect unity. That doesn’t include the oceans of water, the clouds in the sky, and the earth that holds it all in its loving embrace. We have really dreamed ourselves a grand place to be, and an amazing way to be in it.

After leaving Body Worlds, we made our way to the IMAX theatre to view Hubble. Astronauts filmed the movie while they made the final attempt to fix the problems with the Hubble telescope so that scientists could continue to view the far edges of the universe, those other worlds that sometimes seem beyond our imagination, but are brought into our view through an incredible combination of knowledge and technology.

We had moved from the inner exploration of the body to the outer exploration of the universe. The parallels are astounding.

As humans, we are made up of billions of cells that create systems that propel us, support us, keep us alive, forever expanding and changing until the end, when we return to the source of light, an infinite nothingness from which we are created anew. The universe is made up of billions of stars, heavenly bodies that form systems, swirling and morphing, changing and expanding until the end, when the universe collapses into the void of darkness, an infinite nothingness from which it will ultimately be born again.

There are no coincidences in this universe. Everything has a reason, a purpose. We are all stars, made of stars, in a universe of stars.

It was a fascinating experience, and a wonderful stay with Christina and Justin. Next up? Omaha and my sister Linda. I may not blog as frequently for the next month or so. I have some projects to catch up on, and I won’t bore you with my visits with relatives unless I have some aha moments to share. See you soon!

Monday, I was able to get in touch with PayPal and they credited my account while they investigate the charges. Lisa hired me for editing work and paid a retainer, so I visited the Dove Creek bank on my way out of town. As always, things seem to work out, even when we can’t imagine that it will.

No matter what happens in life, there is good in everything if we are just willing to look for it. If I hadn’t had financial trouble with PayPal, I wouldn’t have mentioned anything to Lisa, and I wouldn’t have had the learning I received and the breakthroughs I made. It’s all in how I accept what is happening. When the moment presents less than joy, I ask myself, “How can I expand in positive ways from what just happened? When I do that, when I really look at things from a 360-degree view, the perspective gives new insight and direction and joy returns so much more quickly.

This trip has been an enormous help in teaching me to be in the moment. On a road trip, there are so many possible choices. It’s like the picture in M.A.S.H. where there are road signs with mileages pointing in every direction. Go here. Go there. What to choose? The unknown can be scary, or extremely exhilarating – or both.

There have been so many instances where, really, there is nothing I can do but to breathe, wait a few moments, and allow the next moment to see where I will move next. As I stay in that place of acceptance of what is, I feel myself following my inner knowing with more ease and joy.

I have always operated better on the edge. I understand now that the edge is the moment. Taking a leap of faith is balancing where you are at that edge of acceptance with forward movement into the unknown, trusting that the bridge will come to meet me. I don’t have to worry about finding or building it, or try to control how it is accomplished. The support is there; I just need to create the image of it in my mind and it will be there when I need it.

I left Vista Caballo and traveled north through a beautiful series of canyons and mesas, paralleling the Delores River for a long distance, climbing steadily to Grand Junction. Picking up the Interstate, I headed east toward Denver to visit my niece Christina and her fiancé, Justin for two days.

Vista Caballo Ranch

The next day, I awoke with more energy than I’d had in a while. I logged onto my computer to answer a few emails and check my banking. What I found was disturbing. Someone had been using my PayPal credit card number to purchase things and PayPal had been taking the money from my checking to pay for it! My hotel stays had taken much more than anticipated from my budget, so I was stunned to see what was left.

After contacting my bank and making arrangements to make sure everything was covered, I canceled my PayPal credit card (which was still in my possession) at their website, packed my things, and headed for Vista Caballo, the ranch of Lisa Dee, an author in Horse as Teacher: The Path to Authenticity. It was Saturday and PayPal’s offices were closed. I’d have to deal with it on Monday.

Last October, I flew to Texas and drove my new car home on a road trip through Santa Fe and the Four Corners area. I had visited Lisa and her fiancé Jess on that trip, having a lovely dinner with them and their weekend guests. This time through, Lisa had graciously offered their cabin for me to stay. I told Lisa how significant that was in light of my banking situation. From there and over the weekend, we had a number of discussions about prosperity, abundance, and the perception of both. Lisa has an incredible way of shining light on things, coaching and teaching in a way that is both informative and transformational.

Jess, a world-class competitor in bicycling, was on a training ride, so Lisa and I took the opportunity to catch up. Sitting in their outdoor, fire-heated soak tub, she talked about the Law of Attraction and how most of the information about that universal principle just scratches the surface. What is missing is how we value ourselves, and how we treat money in energetic terms. Lisa brought up the example of how we look at the value of a penny. Ironically, on my trip, whenever I had received pennies in change, I would casually flip them into a canister on the counter, not wanting to “deal” with “just” a penny.

Without my revealing this piece of information, Lisa went on to say that most people don’t understand that a penny is as valuable as any other denomination. Since it’s all energy, we should treat it all with respect. She hit that on the nail.

She continued that we often don’t value ourselves and what we bring to the world any more than that penny. And with our vibration set to not value ourselves, it’s no wonder the law of attraction isn’t working. Lisa has created two successful companies, having recently sold one for a very large sum. She knows about prosperity and how to attract financial abundance. I absorbed everything she said.

What she and Jess have built reflects that she walks her talk. The cabin was luxurious, with attention to every detail, from the artwork on the walls to the candles lining the Jacuzzi bathtub. After unpacking and as we walked to the barn to feed the horses, she asked how everything was in the cabin. I joked that I would love to stay on as her camp cook, and she replied that they are actually building another cabin so that they can hire someone to do that. She encouraged me to check out what they were building

if I had a chance the next day.

As Lisa cleaned the stalls in the barn and fed the horses, she asked if I was getting any messages from the horses. When I had visited in October, her horse Hakomi had communicated to Lisa that she and I could have a conversation without Lisa having to translate. I had promised Hakomi I would be in contact with her through a journey after I finished that trip. When I saw her in the corral, I realized that I had not done as I had promised. While the other horses were curious about me, Hakomi ignored my presence.

Hakomi, Vista Caballo

Mikey and Angel came to greet me, but Promise held back, interested, but shy. Angel is very gregarious, extremely intelligent, and wants attention. Mikey is a calm horse, observing everything, and not reactive. Both picked on Promise, but she would just walk away and not engage with their antics.

Mikey and Promise

I put my hand on Promise’s back, which she tolerated, more focused on her eating. She occasionally looked back at me, curious to know what I was doing. I was drawn to her stomach and put my hand there. Lisa watched me and then said that Promise had always had a sensitive stomach. An image came to me that Promise had a nervous stomach because she didn’t trust that she was staying with Lisa. I told Lisa what was coming to me.

Hakomi, Mikey, Promise, and Angel

She related that every time she had people come to the ranch for workshops and sessions, Promise’s stomach would get worse. I asked what her history was. She had been passed from person to person, just getting settled in when another change would happen. I suggested that maybe when people came she was concerned that she would have to leave with them.

Lisa immediately began to tell Promise that she was safe and secure. She would never have to leave. Promise seemed to respond, visibly relaxing and going back to eat. I put my hands on her stomach and started to send healing energy to her. A few minutes passed and she moved toward me, seeming to want more of what I was doing. If I moved away, she would position herself for more.

About that time, Hakomi came through the barn, walked directly to Promise and nipped at her. When Promise moved away, Hakomi did it again. Then Angel and Mikey did the same thing. Promise just continued to move away, never engaging in retaliation.

Then, as if Hakomi’s voice was in my head, I heard clearly, “Why are you working with her, first? Why didn’t you contact me like you said you would?” I immediately saw that she was upset that Promise was getting special treatment, and as lead mare, she was being bypassed.

I told Lisa the message I was getting, as Hakomi walked toward me, stood in front of me, and looked directly at me, like a woman scorned. I got the message. I apologized to her and told her I would connect with her later, as Promise needed some healing energy right now. She seemed to accept that and made her way to the back corral to continue eating.

After Jess returned and we all had dinner, we looked out at the horses who had been released into the yard. Promise was lying down on the ground, looking like she was uncomfortable. Watching her, Lisa began to become concerned that she might be having colic.

She wasn’t getting up, a clear sign that something wasn’t right. Jess got her back to the barn where Lisa and I started working with her. I put my hands on her stomach while Lisa massaged the muscles around her tail to stimulate her to eliminate.

As I sent healing energy to her through my hands she continued to move closer to me, pressing her back end toward me. Whatever we were doing seemed to be helping. She started to pass gas. We worked for another 10 minutes or so. Eventually, Promise moved away from us to the hay on the ground, and started to eat. A very good sign.

Later, Lisa went to check on her. When Lisa asked how she was, Promise led her to a pile of dung and smelling it, looked back at Lisa as if to say, “See, aren’t you proud of me?”

Much later, before I fell asleep in the amazingly comfortable bed, I took another dip in the soak tub. The stars were out on a beautiful, clear night. I had brought my drum and my Native American flute with me to the soak tub, and as I sat on the submerged step, I played the flute. The horses came out of the barn to listen, rapt with attention. The notes filled the space with sound.

Then I picked up the drum and began to journey. I met my horse spirit guide and was immediately connected with Hakomi. We had a long conversation about the day’s events. She shared how each horse was doing, saying that Promise was very grateful for our help.

She continued to explain that she would help me connect with other horses, just like my horse spirit guide. She explained that she was a translator and was eager to help me with energy work for horses. She also said that she had felt disrespected by my not connecting with her after my visit in October. I was duly reprimanded, then forgiven. She’s an amazing horse, that one.

I slept like the dead that night, awaking to a bright sunrise.

A lot has happened in the past few days, despite my utter exhaustion. After weeks of moving and preparing for the trip, I hit the mental and physical wall after I reached my cousins Thoroughbred Ranch, in Elk Grove, CA.

But I get ahead of myself. Wednesday after several day’s delay, I hit I-5 south, not sure if I should just head down to June and Joe’s (my cousins) directly, or still go with my original plan to see the Redwoods. As I neared Corvallis, where I had lived for nearly 20 years, I was pulled to go to the coast via Waldport.

What I hadn’t thought about was that I would literally be driving past all of my former residences. It was as if I were shedding old energy, glimpsing familiar places that were now foreign, part of my memory, but no longer part of my life. The message I got was that in all cases, life moves on. And it’s not where you are that holds the key to life’s wonders; it’s how you look at where you are.

The last day of the move, as I was closing the door on the Raven Lodge for the last time, one of my spirit guides tapped me on the shoulder and said, “If you think this is good, wait til you see what’s next!” I thought about all the places I had lived and realized that every time, I was able to land in something better than the last, and all were beautiful. And so I left with a new perspective on the what might lie ahead.

The drive down the coast was beautiful, with sun pouring down on the dazzling water. There was a stiff breeze behind me, and just south of Florence, dark clouds appeared on the horizon. By Brookings, it was raining. By Crescent City, California, just outside the Redwoods, it was pouring. I found a hotel and after digging through my things to find what I needed, I set up camp for the evening.

I had taken a brief detour off 101 to drive through the edge of Jedediah Smith National Park as I approached Crescent City. After winding through increasingly dense forest, I was rewarded with a grove of the stately ancient ones. I’ve seen them before, but they always take my breath away when I see them again.

The trees are calling to me. I realized that on my drive, even before I came to these giants. They have a message for me that I am to discover on this journey. It’s time to find out what they have to say.

To let you all know, I’m having some trouble getting my videos from my Droid to my Mac. So, I’m sorry I don’t have anything yet for you. Soon, very soon :-) .

M.

Fate and Destiny

The realness of leaving the Lodge is starting to sink in. Today I awoke with all that I have to do, and with the realization that in less than two weeks I will be on the road to a new stage of my life.

Feeling sadness, with a touch of doubt about my choosing to leave for three months, I sat down to do my daily ritual of drawing a Sacred Path Card: The Discovery of Self Through Native Teachings.

Sacred Path Cards by Jamie Sams

I also have a new deck called Wisdom of the Hidden Realms by Colette Baron-Reid, a very beautiful set of cards that help bridge the worlds of the material and the spiritual.

Wisdom of the Hidden Realms by Colette Baron-Reid

The question on my mind the past day or so was “why not just move into Portland instead of hitting the road?” The first card I drew was Painted Face, which speaks of self-expression, to use my creativity to express my feelings, talents, and desires.

Yesterday I taught the third day-long workshop in Shamanic Writing Level II, which is all about how to be creative and what to do with that creativity. One of the principles of my teaching is that creativity is healing as well as productive, which the card reading said in black and white. The card pointed to this time of allowing the Medicine of the Self to emerge, to offer the gift of my Medicine to others who may have need of my talents. The card went on to say that changing appearance, attitudes, and activities to match the healed me is called for at this time. It’s always amazing to me that the cards reflect exactly what is happening. I’ve been dying to the old in many ways, and leaving the Lodge seems to be another reflection of that in my life (read Shaman’s Death post for more on dying to the old).

Then I went to shuffle the Hidden Realms cards and saw at the bottom of the deck the Mapmaker of Destiny card. I thought to myself, now wouldn’t that be the card to draw. I shuffled thoroughly for about a minute, and lo and behold, that’s the card I drew!

The card reading says it’s a sign that I’m being given an opportunity to transform Fate into Destiny. A Map of Destiny shows all the places I’m meant to visit, places where I will be challenged to evolve into the highest aspects of the Self. Fate represents the events in my life that were meant to happen and that I can’t change. Fate is transformed into Destiny according to how I respond to my circumstances. Destiny offers me the ability to make great opportunities out of fated experience, so free will and choice are possible at certain points on my map.

Apparently, NOW is one of those times. I’m faced with a circumstance brought to me by Fate. How I respond will lead to my perfect Destiny. The Challenge is to face the things within me that must change in order for me to express my highest good.

No matter which form they take, all challenges and allies are perfect expressions of Fate inviting me into my Destiny. The final line of the reading: “Remember that Fate makes the map, but Destiny is determined by the manner in which I engage my journey.”

I wasn’t given the choice to leave the Lodge, but now that Fate has shown its cards, it is how I proceed that is leading to my Destiny. I just need to breathe and trust that all is being shown exactly when I need it.

Blessings on Your Path,

Marilyn

The Shaman’s Death

The sight before me was all too familiar. I had seen it years ago, before I had begun my shamanic studies. The head sliced from the body, attached only by a narrow piece of skin, the mouth opening and closing, gasping for air, eyes staring, seeking but not comprehending. Only a thin connection remained to what was left of the snake’s life, a single thread tenuously grasping on to what it knew just moments before. I watched as the unscathed and beautiful body stilled. I stood stunned, knowing I could never reverse the fatal damage I had inflicted.

The horror I felt was overwhelming, images flashing of the first time I had been witness to this ghastly scene of running over a snake with a mower. I felt queasy as a wave of nauseating energy swept through my body. It was as if my own throat had been cut, my own body dismembered, dying, with so much life left unlived. The pain, sorrow, and guilt that surfaced caused my body to tense, my mind to reel.

I ran from the scene, no longer able to bear the passing of life. Overwhelmed by emotion, I cried to the spirits, “Why?” An innocent life, ended so brutally. What kind of universe is it that something so cruel can happen, not once, but twice in my life? I was dizzy with anger, frustration, sadness, and disbelief. I stumbled to the front yard, dazed and confused, filled with rage and sorrow, so many unanswered questions swirling in my mind. What more could happen? What other challenges would I have to face before the seemingly unending series of failures that had happened in my life would stop?

I sat down on the bench overlooking the river in front of the Lodge and stared, unseeing, at the beautiful scene in front of me, a stark contrast to the death I had just witnessed. And as if in a movie where all the scenes pass on the screen at breakneck speed, images of my life’s struggles, the obstacles I had faced, the mistakes I had made, the choices I wished I could undo, swept through my mind. So many things had brought me to this point.

I took a deep breath, and my mind slowed. “It was a snake,” I said to myself. “I used to hate snakes. Why does its death feel so significant? What message am I supposed to be getting?” Then, very gently, a voice whispered in my ear. “There is a reason for everything. Remember what you asked for. Now is the time to live it.”

What I asked for? This was it? I couldn’t see the connection. I thought back to last year, as I was preparing for my fourth vision quest practicum, the last direction of the Medicine Wheel. North, the place of insight and wisdom – and perseverance. The final quest was to be a culmination of a journey, bringing together all that I had learned in the previous three years of seeking and understanding my path in the world.

I had asked for grace so that I would have a clear understanding of what I was writing about in my book, Stumbling Through Fear, Falling Into Grace. Be careful what you ask for. At the time of the snake’s death, I had just experienced my most heart-wrenching, difficult, and challenging year of my life. Time after time, I had been reminded to walk with grace as I faced each obstacle and loss.

As I sat wondering what the spirits were trying to show me by the severing of the snake’s head, I suddenly realized that being in grace meant accepting the unwanted, of dealing with pain with understanding and significance, to honor those things that were showing me the way, no matter how challenging or unwanted.

Gathering a candle and a few altar items, I went back to the snake in the back yard and helped its spirit pass to the light. I sat there for hours crying, letting my emotions spill out until there was nothing left.

And in that empty space, I heard another message: “You must die to the past. How you have been choosing no longer serves you. It is necessary to change all that is holding you back.”

Then I remembered one of the first Shamanic Journeys I had ever done years ago. It was a dismemberment journey, where my power animal, the snake, came to me and disassembled me to help me “re-member” my true self. The snake came directly to me and without any fanfare proceeded to bite off my head. Nothing else, just my head. He chewed it up and spit it out into a fire. From the fire, a whirlwind of the pieces formed a tornado, the force of the energy reforming my head into a bright light of iridescent colors. He then carefully replaced it onto my body.

At the time, I took the meaning to be of getting out of my head and back into my heart. As I sat there mourning the loss of the snake in my back yard, I realized that I hadn’t really done that. I was still letting my head lead the way, allowing fear to influence all of my choices. The snake’s death culminating a year of setbacks seemed to be amplifying the message. How I had been operating in the world wasn’t working. It took the severing of my power animal’s head to show me that.

That night, the summer breezes blew through my bedroom windows, gently rocking me into a deep sleep. The emotions of the day had exhausted me. In the middle of the night I heard my cats playing in the room. When I got up to use the bathroom and switched on the light, I saw that they had captured and killed a bat that had apparently flown in through the screen-less window.

Two deaths in a day. I felt horrible that it was taking the lives of these animals to show me life lessons. I immediately went to the Medicine Power book by Jamie Sams to read about the medicine of the bat.

What I found was that the bat symbolizes rebirth. How appropriate. The cycle must continue, first death to the old, then rebirth. The passage continued that the bat reflected the Shaman’s Death. In some cultures, the Shaman is put through a ritual so demeaning and difficult that some do not come through with their sanity intact. In order to heal and know what others are experiencing, the Shaman must know the shadow side as well as the light. The rituals they endure are called the Shaman’s Death.

I realized that I had been experiencing the Shaman’s Death for some time, in particular the past year. The choice I had was to fight it and continue to experience more of the same, or to embrace what the spirits were showing me and truly die to my old self, the self of fear; of making choices based on an external, egoic view; of worry and regret; of patterns and habits that were harmful. It was time to step into a new me, or rather, the true expression of me that has always been there, but hidden behind self-created masks and beliefs.

That day was a turning point. I saw a new fork on my path. I could choose to continue the patterns that had gotten me to this point, or I could begin to let go of what no longer served me, no matter how deep I needed to go to unravel their hold on me.

As I fell back to sleep, I felt a sense of relief and release. I thanked the spirits of the snake and bat for their sacrifice to help me see my path more clearly, and fell back into a deep, dreamless sleep.