When you have once seen the glow of happiness on the face of a beloved person, you know that a man can have no vocation but to awaken that light on the faces surrounding him. In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer. Albert Camus
So it’s Sunday night. And I haven’t yet written a post this week. Not even a word. I had intended to. I even gave it a half-hearted try, but no words came.
Probably if I have nothing to say, I should just be quiet. But it scares me. The thought that this blog might just fall away. Of falling back into the silent, isolated abyss.
It’s nearly been a year of weekly writing for me. I’ve published over fifty posts. At an average of 1500-2000 words – that’s a decent sized book in anyone’s language.
There’s been over 12,000 views of my blog. Wow! This from a girl who wouldn’t even show her writing to one person, prior to that.
So what? Well, I’ve always wanted to be a writer and I kind of feel like I am now. I feel like I have connected with an audience, and that’s very special. So I don’t want to let it slide.
A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality. John Lennon
Because that’s what I do. In my pursuit of one thing I get distracted by the next thing and well, as my dear dad says, I lack ‘stickability’.
I mean I can’t tell you how many things I have started and not finished. Crafts? Do not go there! There’s half-knitted scarves, half-sewn dresses, a bag full of items that need to be ‘mended’. AND I’m twice divorced…
I guess with my last relationship ending and other things in my life seeming less that satisfactory, not to mention the growing ‘to be continued’ hobby pile, I need some evidence that I’m not a total flake.
So I made myself think, what do I want to write about?
I am spoilt for choice at the moment – I’m practising chakradance, studying druidry and doing an online course in shamanic journeying.
It’s hard to know where to start with all the things that are happening.
As well as practicing these three disciplines, I’m also working full-time, teaching Chakradance out of hours and and raising a teenager.
This week my normally manageable child went a little off the rails and I was left – alone – to do some pretty serious parenting.
It got me thinking about all these seemingly disparate things. My lack of stickability, my failed relationships, my aversion to serious parenting. As well as my fascination with all things other-worldly.
The world is so empty if one thinks only of mountains, rivers & cities; but to know someone who thinks & feels with us, & who, though distant, is close to us in spirit, this makes the earth for us an inhabited garden. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Here I am desperately wanting to connect with non-ordinary reality, whilst wanting to give ordinary reality a wide berth.
If it’s all about connection, why is it I prefer to connect with nature and spirit guides to the flesh and blood people in my life?
If it’s guidance I seek from the spirit world, shouldn’t I be carrying this across to my real life? Shouldn’t I be more connected to the world, to the people I love?
Connection is at the heart of all my intentions. A desire to be connected to a place called home, to be connected through community to like-minded people, to be connected to life through meaningful purpose, connection to my body in vibrant health, connection to the flow of life through abundance and joy, and the big kahuna, love, which is the ultimate connective tissue, really.
We are all so much together, but we are all dying of loneliness. Albert Schweitzer
At the heart of longing for anything is it’s opposite. So this blog came from a deep sense of disconnection to all these things. A disconnectness so deep I was struggling to even hold onto life itself.
It has been hugely inspiring for me to hear shamanic practitioner and teacher Sandra Ingerman talk about her recovery from chronic depression as a reconnection with the beauty of life. She says that it is not that her depression has been cured or has gone away through shamanic practice, but the practice has opened her up to the inherent beauty and wisdom in all things, depression included.
We are like islands in the sea, separate on the surface but connected in the deep. William James
I found myself feeling a bit panicky, I mean it’s nearly twelve months since I started this blog and I still have no home of my own, nor a loving partner. As I have said my inspiration for this blog was Noelle Oxenhandler’s wonderful book, The Wishing Year, and she got all her wishes by the end of the year.
This prompted me to feel a little desperate in regards to finding a love, funny how the home thing I’m happy to let unfold, but the tick-tock of time brings me great panic in the love stakes.
I say to spirit “You know these are the best years of my life, I’m pretty comfortable in my skin, I’m still kind of attractive, I don’t want to waste them!”
Spirit just laughs.
The funny thing is when I’m truly connected to spirit I don’t feel this need. So that suggests to me that it’s an attachment of the ego. Which is probably not a good basis to approach love from, so I chase my tail around a few times and then give it up. Whatevs universe, whatevs!
No, I am being flippant. When really, my heart deeply yearns for someone to connect with at that truly intimate level. I yearn for someone to share my life with. To share my love with. To love out my days with.
I do think what this eleven months of intentional living has given me, more than a house or a man to love, is insight.
…A way to bring their suffering into a context in which healing could occur at a level that was soul deep. That kind of healing can only happen in a world that is both numinous and immanent. That is a world in which the presence of the sacred is available for intimate contact. Timothy Flynn
And it is the kind of insight that Sandra talks about, the ability to see the beauty in what is, as well as what has been, and feel a sense of peace about it all. Well, mostly…
This insight reminds me that I am part of this great web of life, I am neither incredibly important, nor irrelevant, I’m part of it, just as every living thing is. And it is only by recognising this great connectedness to all that is, that I see my purpose as so far beyond what I do, think or feel. My purpose is embedded in my very existence and the way that interweaves with others, people, animals, rocks and waters.
We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibres connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibres, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects. Herman Melville
I love the concept of journeying. It has this interconnectedness as its essence. It has emerged for me in Chakradance – which is a dance journey through the seven chakras. In druidry and shamanism, which both base their wisdom on both learning from human knowledge, but also connecting with spirit in various forms by journeying to the otherworld of non-ordinary reality.
Journeying works both as a practice, the actual journey we make with the music or drumming and the visualizing and the use of senses beyond the perceptive space of ordinary reality. It also works as a philosophy. To view life as a journey, as an experiential learning and growing exercise.
The terms “ordinary reality” and “non-ordinary reality” come from Carlos Casteneda. Ordinary reality is the reality that we all perceive together. It’s the reality in which we can all agree that there is a clock on the wall. Non-ordinary reality is the reality that is associated with the shamanic state of consciousness; that is, when the consciousness has been altered and you’re able to see what you normally don’t see in an ordinary state of consciousness. Michael Harner
When I view life this way, in the journey through life, all is meant to be. My great traumas, which resulted in great fragmentation of my soul and soul loss allowed my soul to learn, to return to me enhanced by the journey. Experience has made me compassionate, non-judgemental, and open-hearted. Recovering from suicidal depression has given me a great reverence for life.
As I said, the Chakradance practice is a journey. It is a wonderful practice for integrating and connecting all life experience. As I delve into these other realms, I find myself dancing it out. Unfolding in a space of movement and sound. Using rattles and clap sticks has deepened my dance – into a multi-sensory and extra-sensory experience.
In an attempt to keep up with daily practice of the three disciplines I am following, I have attempted some integration, for my personal use, of course, when I teach I am very clear to stay true to the Chakradance structure. It is important to learn the original structure of a discipline before we can incorporate our own personal spiritual journey within that, as these personalised practices may only be meaningful for us alone, in the same way each journey we undertake is personal to us.
I begin with a druidic and shamanic blessing of the space – there’s much overlap between the practices, then I practice energy work sometimes with some chanting, I go into my internal sacred space and meditate. Finishing up with chakradancing, chanting and playing my slapsticks and rattles. It’s busy and eclectic, but I’m settling into something that really works for me on all levels.
I have learned the importance of intention, so last night I set the intention for healing and guidance, particularly with some issues that have arisen with my teenage son.
As I danced through the chakras and made lots of noise with my instruments, I entered that state where the boundaries between the worlds blur.
With my eyes closed, I danced and made noise and began to interact with spirit.
At the base chakra I encountered mother bear, who showed me the power of protective love. At the sacral chakras a water turtle showed me to go slow, be patient and steadfast, allow things to emerge over time. At the solar plexus chakra a young wolf showed me community and masculine power.
The heart chakra was the realm of angelic love and healing. At the throat chakra the reverent and peaceful blue-hooded priestesses imbued me with calm and peaceful communication. The third eye chakra took me to the realm of my upper world guide. A being of light who takes me to the furthest star to swim in a crystal pool of the bluest and greenest water where I somersault like a baby seal.
At the crown chakra, the beautiful druidess meets me and guides me to the energy that is the source of all things. Is she me? A higher version of self? I’m not sure.
Are these real spirit guides? Are they archetypes of my unconscious? Are they imagined? I don’t know. They come, they interact with me, they give me peace and guidance. They empower me. As Sandra Ingerman says, the only real evidence for shamanic healing is the results it brings in ordinary reality over time.
I might say something about spirits, because it’s a strange word to people. What is a spirit? In 1961, when I was with the Conibo Indians in eastern Peru in the Amazon, I was training using ayahuasca with a shaman, and we were working with the various nature spirits every night. I worked with the anaconda spirit, the black panther spirit, the fresh-water dolphin spirit, various tree spirits, and so on. They would come, we would see them, and so on. I came to realize that anything that you see in complete darkness or with your eyes closed is technically a spirit. That makes it sound like it’s just an image in the air, but shamans find out which spirits have power and which don’t. They discover what spirits can help in what ways. It’s very important to recognize that whatever you contact in nonordinary reality is technically a spirit. It’s a spiritual reality. Michael Harner
The benefit of connectedness goes beyond spiritual and mental wellbeing. Medical evidence now shows that a feeling of connectedness is a major contributing factor in both disease prevention and recovery.
According to Dr Vijay Sharma, women who say they feel isolated are three-and-a half times as likely to die of breast, ovarian, or uterine cancer over a 17-year period. In another study, the single most important factor in a cancer patient’s history was not exposure to a chemical, pollutant, or carcinogen, but the loss of a loved one within five years of the onset of cancer.
Men who say that their wives don’t show them love suffer 50% more angina over a five year period than those who feel their wives do. Male medical students who felt close to their parents were less likely to develop cancer or mental illness in later years.
Among heart patients, those who felt the least loved had fifty percent more arterial damage than those who felt the most loved. That is as close a medical connection between love and heart as you can get.
Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone – we find it with another. Thomas Merton
Writing itself is a kind of connection. I had nothing when I sat down to write this. Then one idea came, and the words to connect that idea to writing, interconnecting with each other. I read other people’s words and connect to them, and then this great stream of interconnectedness pours out.
So with all the benefits of connectedness, why would we hold back from each other?
For me the fear of true authentic connection comes from the risk involved in opening my heart, in being vulnerable and reliant on other people. Risk. Vulnerability. Heart opening. Sometimes it seems like more trouble than it’s worth.
So when my love tried to hold my hand and be heartfelt with me, to tell me things I didn’t want to hear, I wanted to pull away. When the time came to sit down with my son and have a difficult conversation, I felt a huge level of anxiety about it. Even thought it was difficult, I feel a new sense of closeness with him. He seems happier knowing that I’m a solid foundational presence in his life.
That’s the thing about taking risks, we can avoid them to save ourselves pain, but we can equally be denying ourselves the richness of a life built on connection.
Tonight as I finished this post. I acknowledged this interconnectedness by performing a peace ritual. My son came out to my studio, and the dog. It was a little chaotic, but real life is like that. Messy. Imperfect. My son lit candles while I blessed the space and called in the elemental forces. We said some prayers for peace. He did his first journey. When we came back inside he checked social media and said “Mum! they’re negotiating with the gunman.” “See.” I said “Prayer works.”
When we woke up this morning two hostages and the gunman were dead, may they rest in peace. May the souls of those affected by this event be restored to peace. I still believe prayer works, but the web of life is not a simplistic thing. When you have forces running contrary to one another, prayer can uplift the energy, and transform the actions of people, but so can fear and hatred have an opposing effect.
The important element is the way in which all things are connected. Every thought and action sends shivers of energy into the world around us, which affects all creation. Perceiving the world as a web of connectedness helps us to overcome the feelings of separation that hold us back and cloud our vision. This connection with all life increases our sense of responsibility for every move, every attitude, allowing us to see clearly that each soul does indeed make a difference to the whole. Emma Restall Orr
I am connected to all of life.
I open my heart to all of the beings on the planet.
I help create a world where it is safe for all of us to love each other.
What is true of me is true of everyone. We are all learning to look within ourselves to find the wisdom to live harmoniously.
Each person is part of the harmonious whole.