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I was going to wait until I finished this book before I posted a review but I learned that Hank Wesselman will be at the Conscious Life Expo in Los Angeles this month and I had to get this out to share my excitement at meeting the author in the near future.

The Bowl of Light: Ancestral Wisdom from a Hawaiian Shaman is a story, retelling the events around Hank’s meeting and growing friendship with Kahuna elder, Hale Makua. Interestingly enough I happen to have a friend who I have in the past gone to for information about her Hawaiian culture and spiritual traditions. Being a granddaughter of a spiritual elder from the islands I feel she’s my “go-to girl” for this type of spiritual information. I had to talk to her about it because, interestingly enough, her Grandfather is mentioned in the book.

So… the two of us are going to the event on Monday, February 14th at the Hilton Los Angeles: Spirit Medicine: An Overview Of Shamanic Healing. That hyperlink should take you to the events page, it’s roughly a 2 1/2 gathering and talk about healing.

Course Description

Join Hank as he examines the three classic causes of illness and the four levels of Shamanic healing and explores the nature of health and illness from the perspective of some of the Earth’s indigenous people. You will learn ancient, time-tested ways of entering the Shamanic state of consciousness where you can connect with your spirit helpers and healing masters and learn how to work with them in your personal place of power and healing in the inner worlds.

From the Conscious Life Expo:

In the Western world today, interest in complementary and alternative therapies is on the rise, and increasing numbers of health care practitioners and laypersons alike are discovering the ease with which the healing modalities developed by the traditional tribal shamans and medicine makers can be learned and practiced. In this workshop, we examine the nature of health, illness and healing from the cross-cultural perspective of the indigenous peoples. This experiential event includes an overview of the three classic causes of illness and the four traditional levels of healing and concludes with a powerful healing ritual.

Note: Please bring hand drums and rattles (if you have them), a notebook, a bandana or eyeshade and a light blanket.

I will be there. I have purchased my ticket as of this morning. If you feel the call, come on out, I’ll see you there!

Now where was I? Oh… right. The book!

I know you know the feeling, reading something that feels right. The Bowl of Light has taken me on an honest journey through the telling of Hank’s meeting with Hale Makua. There are points within the book such as prayers, and answers to, Pele that have caused me to smile and nod. I’m familiar with my spirit connections, these things I understand because I have them. Then there are other tellings -mind you never too much, breaking tradition or revealing that which should not be given away- such as the understanding of what the bowl of light IS, in the Hawaiian tradition, and many other examples that connect the dots [in my head] to other mystical / tribal traditions.

I’m an avid book reader so my “for instances” can contain some cross-pollination between books. I think that’s OK seeing how the references connect.

For instance…

Christopher Penczak, in his latest book by Copper Cauldron Publishing called The Three Rays of Witchcraft brings up into the light the Three Cauldron’s, or foundations, of Awen. This book is a whole review in and of itself but I am still working on some of the advanced exercises contained within the Three Rays of Witchcraft, but I need time to process and digest those. In short, awesome, but now, my point.

The three Cauldrons as Christopher illustrates, are spiritual vessels within the body at the head, the  heart, and the belly. In his instruction with this Inner Alchemy we are filling up and balancing these cauldrons with energy, light. They are balanced by rays, the three rays in fact, and each is a descent of Power, Love and Wisdom, thus the title of the book. What I found interesting as I read there in the working of the cauldrons is a message that I have heard many times over. To channel, one must make the vessel clear, ready to pass the energy with clarity. One of my first references was Frank Fool’s Crow, and his instruction on clearing the body as a vessel for Wanken to heal, “we must make ourselves like hollow bones.”

This message I found in the Bowl of Light. I asked my friend about her grandfathers connection within the story and then excitedly invited her to the event with Hank Wesselman. She  responded enthusiastically describing the spirituality, as Makua had taught Hank, as I read, of the bowl of light…

“At twilight, Makua got up, using his walking stick for stability, and lurched over to his truck to reach for something in the bed behind the cab. He returned to the table under the shelter with a large pu’olo, a ti-leaf bundle that was wrapped  and tied in the traditional style. He presented it to Jill and me with a grin and the simple word makana – ‘gift.’

We eyed the large, leafy bundle with anticipation for several long moments, savoring this time in the dying light of the last day of the year. Then we opened it excitedly and found within a beautiful yet simple wooden bowl made in the Hawaiian style and shaped like the lower half of a gourd.

‘This is your bowl of light,’ intoned the kahuna with a warm smile, ‘the light that was a gift from you ‘Aumakua, your immortal spiritual soul that divided itself before you were born. Each of us comes into the world from the great beyond with our seed of light. This light nourishes us and sustains us as we pass through life-but as we grow in experience and wisom, things happen.

‘Sometimes we lie. Sometimes we steal, and sometimes we injure others through our thoughts, our actions, or our words. When we step into the negative polarity, it is as though we put a stone in our bowl, and some of our light goes out. Slowly through time, our bowl of light fills up with stones, and our light dims until it is nearly gone.’

Makua stopped and looked at us with great seriousness. ‘The great problem in the world today is that the whole show is being run by individuals whose bowls of light are filled with stones. With few exceptions…

(later)

‘Hopefully, we wake up to what is going on and discover what we are doing.’ The elder paused dramatically, his expressive dark eyes luminous. ‘At that moment, we become aware that our bowl of light is almost filled with stones and there is almost no light shining forth. And you know what we do then?’ Makua paused and his gazed turned serious. Jill and I hung on every word.

Gently he took the wooden bowl from me and turned it over, shaking it vigorously. ‘We simply dump it out!’ A huge roar of laughter burst forth from all of us…”

The Bowl of Light: Ancestral Wisdom from a Hawaiian Shaman, Hank Wesselman, PhD, Chapter 3, pg 47-48.

There is a lot more to this book. Talks about mana, illuminations on the Spiritual Warrior society, and interesting thoughts on polarity and spiritual purpose. It is a gem. More than the overwritten “how to” book. This is good storytelling containing seeds of light for your own “bowl” or cauldron.

I’m going to finish up the stories soon. I’d like to recommend this book to the spiritual seeker or those interested in getting more than just an anthropological perspective on Hawaiian spirituality. It isn’t taken without permission, it has been given and with respect, retold and passed along in a way that I think the spirit of Mauka, and many other ancestors would be pleased.

The Bowl of Light has not yet been released. I’ve been blessed with an advance copy. You will be able to pick up your own copy soon.

The Bowl of Light: Ancestral Wisdom from a Hawaiian Shaman
May 1, 2011
Paperback / BK01886 / 284 pp

ISBN: 978-1-60407-430-7
eBook ISBN: 978-1-60407-455-0
UPC: 600835-188685
US $16.95
Spirituality/Shamanism
World

Synopsis: An intimate view into the mind of an authentic Hawaiian kahuna elder—with shamanic insights for connecting with the wisdom of our ancestors and our own divine nature.

I hope this finds you well.

– –

Scott K Smith
http://lifencompass.com
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Hi there.

I spent the morning working on a first draft of Essentials: Acceptance. That brought me to think about the follow up I intend to post, bringing some results of some work with the Young Living Essential Oil Blend: Abundance (featured here). It’s only been a few weeks since the full moon, where I combined Abundance (oil) in a larger working but I’ve already seen a few initial results that came from some unexpected sources.

The nature of spell-work, in my opinion, prevents me from writing in any detail at this time but I’m liking what I am seeing / experiencing. You have my oath that I’ll post the results, ritual, and full details when I reach my goal.

I did  mention that I have a few other things in the line-up, aside from the Tarot Weekly’s. They include a few book reviews, from giving people like the folks at Sounds True, Christopher Penczak and Copper Cauldron Publishing, and another I am considering but still reading. I dont’ get a lot of feedback on the reviews but I hope they continue to be entertaining.

The new year (Julian) is coming and I’m always motivated to find new things, and continue the Journey.

Stay tuned. Say hi. Connect with  me on Facebook, Twitter, or if you know me, just give a call. Oh and look for the next Essential posting this Friday.

– – –
Be well,

Scott K Smith
http://lifencompass.com

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If you are just joining me in these posts you can catch up on the chapter-by-chapter book review of Awakening to the spirit world through these posts:

Okay. I know. It’s been awhile but if you have followed along with me at The Journey, you know I’ve been a busy little bee, with some events and other things happening.

As promised I’m back to complete my thoughts (review) on Awakening to the Spirit World: The Shamanic Path of Direct Revelation.

You may be expecting three more blog excerpts but I’m going to blend these last three chapters together into one. You see, much like the chapters on Death (previous entries) there is a similar  message in these last three chapters. It makes sense then to bring them together and close with some last thoughts here.

Community. Transformation. The Return of the Shaman

We return to the last three chapters of Awakening to Shamanism, like many inward journeys, the seeker lead back out through chapters on Community, Transforming Communities, and a final Chapter called The Return of the Shaman.

An Altay shaman beating a gong. Music was one ...

Image via Wikipedia

Clearly there is a connection between our self, our work, and the communities we live in. Naturally there is an exchange… As I believe, when we as people shift our consciousness there is a 100th Monkey Effect (I recognize that this is a considered “discredited” idea scientifically, but in Magickal work, I don’t. So I will use it). Enough magick and energy are infused in an area, it’s going to be changed. Magick is affecting consciousness, energy / vibration, matter composed of energy, etc, etc, etc.

“Shamanism”, or more closely put for me “Magick” is most effective when it is integrated into our core perceptions. Meaning, if it’s not considered in your day-to-day moments, I don’t know that you will find it always works. By “works” I mean that you actually experience it as a living thing, more than just imagined things from candles and such.

Community doesn’t always mean forming a circle and banging drums, chanting, preaching, or selling your wares. Community, I think, should probably mean that your (in this instance) “Shamanic Practice” could be best used in your own personal life, in the relationships that you have most immediately around you. Family, friends, etc. I’m not saying that one can’t form a drum circle or dreaming group, but as I remember I often saw a confusion between the two. A “Do as I say, not as I do” person or group who rattled and banged their spiritual tools, then went home and it was over.

Magick isn’t Church, it happens with every breath, it applies to the most mundane. Natural. Living. Now. In this circle.

In Chapter 13 we discuss a little bit more than that, looking for the Shaman in modern society. Who is he or she? The Minister? The Physician? Politicians? How about Visionaries like Joseph Campbell?  I think that the important question is, who are our modern functionaries through the process of living and are they qualified to help us through our passages? Moreover, what are they helping to facilitate? Is it a functional change or simply the advancement of a metaphor-to-be-taken-literally?

Okay. Maybe that’s my question. I’ve never fully been a part of the mainstream choices: Church. Sports. Pop. Patriotism. I’ve found I fit into the more sub-culture and fringe… which happened to become more mainstream. It seems like the integration of these so-called “New Age” things becomes almost overwhelming (but pleasant) when you can speak and not feel like you’ll be stoned.

Joseph Campbell

Image via Wikipedia

Anyway, my point, and I think that of the authors, is the question of who are our visionaries and how do we interact with our community; and in our interaction the learning of who and what are community spirit actually is.

Recognizing and honoring our interconnected nature comes from participating in life, and with those we surround ourselves with both physically and spiritually. This is the place of healing, and transformation in our self and our community when we bring it into our conscious, recognized life. We are not alone in our search for belonging or our quest for a place, in taking our journey into the realm of the day-to-day, we cut a door for connection to happen to some of our core hopes, fears, passions, and beliefs, creating connections with those forces that allow and understand our desire.

Sandra Ingerman writes:

“When I first started performing healing work with individuals in Santa Fe, I always knew if I was going to be working with an Anglo or a Native American by how many cars  I heard turning into my driveway. Whenever Native American’s came to  see me they brought their children, spouses, loved ones, and even their dogs. It was always a bit challenging forme to have a dog licking my face or a child jumping on my stomach while I was journeying for my client. But there was something special and sacred about this experience.

(then)

“…I have found over my years of practice that by having a client bring one or more support people to the session, the effect of the healing is long-lasting, for the client then has someone who was present during the healing ritual who they can continue to talk to about the experience.

(later)

In today’s world, a powerful and pervasive cause of illness  can be found in intense and prolonged feelings of isolation. Many people don’t know who they are, where they belong, or what unique gifts and strengths they have to share in their community. These feelings of alienation are unique to Western people. [I call this generalization but that’s me ~Scott] They simply do not exist in tribal societies in which every individual belongs in perpetuity to the tribal whole. “

Sandra and Hank then guide us through some scenario’s like “Healing Challenges Within Families“, including an exercise for seeking identity in healing, and our perceptions of those who are sick. They talk about the environment and sharing an ecological responsibility and move into our role as (becoming) a visionary within your community. Sandra and Hank write about forming a circle and the collective dream of a tribe and a people, that takes us into the next chapters, The Transformational Community and the Return of the Shaman.

I don’t want to gloss over these things but it’s hard not to write a novela here because we begin to discuss topics like Indigenous Prophecy and the Cycle of Ages.

I think that if you were to dedicate yourself to the suggestions and ideas in this book as a map for understanding our self, and discovering what our natural place / calling is in the world, you would be happy. The first chapters open us to the calling, the inner chapters give us the framework to create the experience of the Modern Shaman, and the last chapters bring us to our potential roles in the community and the World, which feels to be on the edge of something vastly transformative.

Joseph Campbell in the Masks of Eternity concludes with the necessity of the changing myths, of what they will become, of how they will transform our society in ways that we cannot imagine. Sandra and Hank talk about the return of primordial spirituality. Indigenous Prophecy. The Sioux and the Hindu cultures speak of the cycles of ages and the four-legged bull (buffalo) which is now standing on it’s last leg. The Maya spoke of 2012, taken up by recent “New Age” folks, Earth Birthers, and others. The climate has changed…

I don’t necessarily believe in prophecy as in I think it will occur, because I (personally) think that we collectively help to create them through our insistence in the outcome. Maybe the thought that births the result of the prophecy to fulfillment is necessary to create the change. I’d just hope that people would like something aside from a disaster to be transformed… yet that seems to be the nature of all prophecy. Death and rebirth. It doesn’t have to mean, mythologically speaking, that is / should be a literal event.

Whatever our coming times are to be, global warming, or White Buffalo Woman come again singing, I feel that we are in an age of change and it is important to have an understanding of our place within the natural world. Who are we and how are we connected becomes, how am I a part of this moment I am in and what can I do to help heal, balance, speed up, change.

I think it should be interesting. I’ve always thought that maybe it was a shift in consciousness. That maybe one person doing, becomes some people doing until the shift of energy is as natural as a hundredth monkey learning to wash a yam in the river because the many have embraced the idea into the social consciousness. The passage of ideas, the deepening of the spiritual awareness, which is our natural, normal, and healthy awareness of the world and all things in it, through a period of transition, transformation, and rebirth. If it were a song it would start with a sound of pain or bliss: This is wrong, I must change. That is beautiful, I must be there. Following our bliss is centering in who we are and from that place then discovering how what we are does something good, it is more than nature, it is innately human, it is our moment of becoming.

What if we find that we are all in a collective moment of becoming? What if it is our collective bliss or calling. What if prophecy is but poetry, dancing around the truth of our evolution… or death and rebirth?

I acknowledge that this is my part of the experience, my lens of practice, my metaphysical interaction with life and the world. Maybe it’s my message to me, connected to you, to life, an AUM moment of realization. Being alive. Shamanism like many things (I think) can be applicable because it also can be practical, and practical spiritual connections to the world are important. Metaphor’s and prophecy should connect us to the meaning of the now, expand our awareness, deepen our connections to life. Though some parts of Magickal practice do take us into other states of consciousness it is important to recognize (IMO) this truth that it should apply to our living, our love, our passages, and I think that in essence that is what Awakening to the Spirit World: The Shamanic Path of Direct Revelation is teaching.

I thank Sandra Ingerman, Hank Wesselman, Carol Proudfoot-Edgar, Tom Cowan, Jose Stevens, Alberto Villodo, Fools Crow, Black Elk, Merlin, and all the other seekers, Shamans, Witches, and Spiritual doer’s past, present, and future for taking the time to live the life of their calling. We all are human, imperfectly-perfect natural beings seeing into the great unknown and traveling paths to seek and bring back that which can help us all collectively.

Find your path to direct revelation. Reach into your inner being. Spend time in your bliss, your calling, your authentic, magickal self and bring back the gifts that you have. They are needed more than you know.

In love.

– – –
Be well,

Scott K Smith
http://lifencompass.com

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If you are just joining me in these posts you can catch up on the chapter-by-chapter book review of Awakening to the spirit world through these posts:

Welcome back.

I read through this chapter, it’s a short one, and had a few thoughts about what to write. I went back and forth in my mind. Children are not an immediate part of our life here at home, we’re a gay couple with no plans for anything but DINK-hood (DINK = Double Income, No Kids).

Many of our friends have children and we enjoy the time we have with them. At various ages we experience the highlights and woes of pregnancy and birth and hen later their children’s growing curiosity and exploration of the world.

I wanted to contribute some bit of knowledge to this chapter but aside from the loving and spiritual connection to childhood through the little ones, there is not much that I can say about rites of passage without referring to my own youth and learning experiences. It’s not that they are invalid or that I don’t have something to give but the chapter focuses on the transformative process of youth and responsibility we have to the children that are in our community, noting that they are our future, literally.

Our Children Are Our Future

With all that said I find that I do have something to write. My, aren’t you surprised… 🙂

One  of the topics that jumped out to me in the chapter came into the writing straight away: The Shamans experience as being childlike. Sandra writes,

“Thus, in some way, the way of the Shaman is the way of the child. And, as Sandra Ingerman points out, beginners in the study of Shamanism often immediately see the connection between shamanic journeying and their own childhoods:

When I teach workshops on Shamanic journeying, a large percentage of my participants tell me that they actually journeyed as children. They simply did not realize that this was what they were doing, yet when their attention refocuses into the imaginal realms where their spiritual allies were waiting to companion and champion them, they discovered that these “spirit-friends” were assisting them through the perils and pains of their childhood.”

In my world “imagining” plays an integral role in creation magickally, creatively, daily. Children are our leaders in this world through the fantastic and tremendous power of creative visualization. Not only do they create entire worlds and scenarios, they interact with these worlds and often the spirits and energies in them in a direct and primal way. Children become the teachers and our lessons are in the spontaneous interaction, and channeling that creativity through our focused intent. This is where we create. This is where we live every day in greater or lesser degrees driven and routed by the core beliefs we have about life, reality, and the world.

On Tuesday of this week I had a great conversation with a friend at work. We talked about the life-calling. She, Anne, brought up the point that many people do not know what they want to do (to “be”) until much later on in life. We began to relate our feelings and thoughts about growing up, maturity, and in general the blind stumbling run of the 20’s and how things begin to form, a path becomes apparent, in our 30’s.

Now we can call this the Saturn Return but whatever name we give it, most of us find that there is a shift where what we thought we were supposed to do, and what becomes clear what we should do suddenly become clearer. I spent my early years studying mystical paths, only to find that I resisted them later on. I would work a finance company then a slew of hospitality jobs before bouncing back to Dot Coms and working in Graphic Design, Real Estate, and many other positions.

It wasn’t until the calling hit me to re-dedicate myself to the spiritual path, that things began to once again come together in a sensical way. First I met many opportunities for learning, which I ate up like a grub under a log. Then these paths narrowed in focus as I ingested the  meaning that I thought (first) was in the books, classes, and workshops, and then (later) realized that it came from within.

This came out in my conversation with Anne, easily illustrated: I realize that I am becoming again who I was when I was a child. I feel this is growing older.

It is a rite of passage and the authors write something significant that I can relate to in these passages:

“As Hank points out, the “rights of passage” seen in Western culture do not come close to accomplishing what shamanic ceremony does in terms of preparing an individual for a new stage of life:

Getting a driver’s license, going to the high school prom, and drinking alcohol or smoking pot are pale comparisons to indigenous ceremonies where each boy and girl is subjected to tests, trials,and tribulations that may include social isolation for many days and nights, fasting with no food or water during that extended time, and even enduring physical mutilation-circumcision, tooth evulsion, whipping, scarifications, or tattooing (Scott: Paths of power), in which the “child” dies and the “adult” is born. During this time, their helping spirits may approach them once again, which is why many groups call such rites of passage the “vision quest.”

Hawaiian elder Hale Makua once said that in ancient Hawai’i, each boy-child lived in the house of his mother until he was bout six or seven years old. Then the boy went to live in the Men’s House, and the first thing that the men taught the boys was how to treat women with respect.

…The role of initiation was (and is) the key.

As a teenage I was envious of stories that told of rites of passage. More than envious, I sought them knowing that what I was to expect from society was not enough. A driver’s license? The lawful ability to drink? These are not enough to sustain the psyche, they are footnotes on a life, generally speaking.

There is great power in finding our creative, primal, wild and imaginative self within and through our relationship with the children in our life. The stress on the ideal that the physical is the only reality and the path to power is dominion and ownership of physical things is but an immature ideal that has run mad and grown into an ox that we cannot control. Finding our true self, our inner child if you will, our magickal being within that can imagine outside of the box that our “adult” self cannot escape become essential to escaping the trap of age, situation, and the “reality” that we have been told is our only option.

This could be open for great discussion… but I know in myself, as I have let go and given faith in my experience beyond “the physical” and in my feeling, knowing, creating self I have found a truer definition of what I am becoming.

The remaining parts of the chapter focus on the reintroduction of the visionary experience, the rite of passage (for children), and a topic called Chidren’s Fire, which becomes a brief on introducing these changing moments to our children again.

I invite you to read along and to think about the children in your life and the child within, who is even now imagining the world we are experiencing and tell us a story or two.

– – –
Be well,

Scott K Smith
http://lifencompass.com

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I was reading through this coming months Transmutation News, thoughts on the Shaman’s Death. I am aware that the last few chapter reviews were about Death and Dying and I thought the newsletter, on the tail of these posts was an important connection to the last three articles in Awakening to Shamanism.

The following contains a few excerpts from Sandra Ingerman’s newsletter, Transmutation News.

((EXCERTPS))

Transmutation News August 2010

“When one embarks on a spiritual journey there is a process of dying to the ego – spirit sculpting us to be greater spiritual beings. And this journey of the shaman is filled with initiations that keep asking us to let go of our egos and a separate state of consciousness that can lead us to a unity consciousness and an experience of light that brings forth our clairvoyant, psychic and healing gifts.

As our ego is carved away at by our spirit, divine light can shine through. It is like a burning away of what keeps us separate from our spiritual state and what prevents our spirit from fully shining through us.

I have written about this many times in my books and also on the Transmutation News.

I think that the setting the intention of “the experiment” with the working in community groups brought me personally to a new stage of the shaman’s death.”

Then

“We are all on a journey – and we are all at different phases of the path – that will ultimately lead to a whole new evolution of consciousness. I think we need to move away from the focus being on the process of individuation. Individuating I think has been necessary on many levels but it is time to grow away from being so self absorbed into a consciousness of unity.

But first a death must occur before we see the possibilities.

When I was in my late teens I experimented with taking LSD. One night some of my friends had taken LSD and we went to a Grateful Dead Concert. At the concert I was separated from some of my friends.

I went into a real place of “ego death” there was no “me” and there was no “other” we were all one. I was in a glorious state of being.

I wanted to tell my friend Robin something but I knew I could never find her amidst the crowd of people. So I thought to myself that if we are all one I can tell the person standing next to me the message and it would be the same as telling Robin.

And then I had the realization that if we were all one I only had to tell myself the message.

The shaman’s death in the true sense of the term is letting go of the ego that provides any containment of the spiritual energies coming through to heal and to transform.

The shaman’s death is dying to anything that keeps you from being in the present moment. And that means letting go of outcomes, desires, needs, wants.”

You can read the full newsletter, and subscribe, at Shamanic Visions.

– – –
Be well,

Scott K Smith
http://lifencompass.com

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Subscribe via RSS. Leave a comment, those are always appreciated. Submit something for posting, topics and ideas are welcome.

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If you are just joining me in these posts you can catch up on the chapter-by-chapter book review of Awakening to the spirit world through these posts:

Experiential Work With Death & Dying | All Change Involves a Death

First the technical and then the personal. I put these two chapters together. As an after thought, I feel that I should have put all three chapters on Death together, but maybe the acceptance and understanding I have of the passage is a bit more “accepting” than others. I’m doing my best not to condense down the subject and breeze through it.

These two chapters contain a lot of personal experience, and sections about:

  • There are No Unfinished Conversations
  • Soul Stealing (about forgiveness)
    • Exercise: Creating Closure
  • Saying Goodbye
  • Recapitulation
  • Granting Permission to Die
  • All God’s Creatures Grieve
  • All Change involves Death
  • Dismemberment as an Initiatory Journey
    • A Journey for Dismemberment
    • Erasing Personal History

In and throughout the stories and exercises in these two chapters are guidelines for helping others to cope with Death. For the self, the parent, and those in need. The second chapter covers more initiatory processes and how we, encountering life or visionary happenings can potentially be transformative from a shamanic or mythological sense.

I think that the authors have done well in this.

As I said I have tried not to gloss over the subject, and not for any reason other than my personal experience in the last 4 or so years has been heavily washed with the passage of family, and a psychological erosion of a youth’s belief in physical immortality by the nature of life’s entropic (physical) journey.

We die. All of us. You will die. I have to say it because I need to remind myself that in time I will. It’s not a constant awareness, but it is there, hovering near, when I heal, hurt, wake, eat, and go about doing. It is something we can or cannot accept, true ,but eventually we end up there whether we accept it or not.

That’s why it is important to know it, say it, accept it. I’m not advocating running around depressed, or in fear, actually I find that by living in a process of accepting Death, there is liberation from a lot of psychological snags. Tho I do believe that my essential self (soul, what have you) may continue on is some form, and I believe that meditation and self-discovery help you to connect with that true being, it doesn’t mean I don’t feel some natural instinct to keep, continue, and create. I am not sitting around planning my funeral, bemoaning my fate, but I am also blessed with health, job, home, and love. I could be much “worse off” compared to many millions of people, and I count that as a blessing.

What does strike me is that many people do not accept this fate. It is a destination yet not a goal, it’s as if Death is a demise, or punishment. Tormented with sorrow, anguish, fear, anger, and so many other mind-traps that throughout history we have needed those who know Death near us when it too becomes our time for passage into that otherness, whatever it ultimately my be. And because it Death perceived is a punishment, we have states in our own country where you forced into dying, in accordance to the law.

Death has become reviled. It’s so terrible, it is the greatest punishment… Where did we go wrong in our understanding?

It’s thoughts like these that drive me to the point that (I think) Sandra & Hank are making: There needs to be a personal re-address of the dying process and Death. A look at first realistic and then metaphysical in the sense of our relationship to ourself and those that have/are passing, and then the greater relationship to the bigger circle of living that we are part of.

Spiritual systems abound, throughout our history from small tribes to the great ethnic groups of human kind, that express an after to what we are living now. There are many similarities in myth, legend, story, and personal experience that tell us we are part of something greater and into the greatness we go when we expire. It is fundamental to most of us (some people believe we live and die, and once dead nothing more) to prove a link at some point in our life with that other world in whatever shape that takes hold of us.

When my grandfather passed away I knew, almost to the minute, even though I was hundreds of miles away. I felt a presence. There was a whiff of Old Spice and a splash of motor oil. I was sitting at my office desk, the door was closed. His memory, smell, and spirit was there in the light before me. Saying goodbye.

At a much younger age when one of my dogs died, we lived apart at that point, I had a dream she was across a vast chasm from me. Kahlua, my dog, was on one peak and I on another. She was barking and wagging her tail at me. I called her name over and over.

The next day, my mother called to let me know she passed away.

When my boyfriend Sean took is own life, I woke to see a light in my room and someone standing in it, waving. I woke. Smiled and waved. I honestly thought it was a Guide. The next day I began to receive calls…

My great-aunt and her funeral. The spirits in our various houses. “Ghost stories”, near death experiences, encounters. We go somewhere. We become something else. We meet that greatness.

“There is nothing to fear”, as they say, “but fear itself” and when we release that fear we enter a new life. It is part of living to know this. A shamanic perspective is but one way in which we can find the Sacredness and Grace that is helpful to meet it, to complete the circle. We can aid that sacred moment through paths as described in these chapters: Conversation. Forgiveness. Acceptance. Understanding. Connecting. It is one of our task while living.

We can find it in our spirituality, yes, but ultimately we make these graces within ourself.

I hope that this finds you well.

– – –
Be well,

Scott K Smith
http://lifencompass.com

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If you are just joining me in these posts you can catch up on the chapter-by-chapter book review of Awakening to the spirit world through these posts:

Chapter 9: Death as a Rite of Passage

Be welcome to what most feel is an unwelcome topic of conversation: Death. There are obvious reasons for the discomfort, namely that the majority of people fear death!

Awakening to Shamanism, the Path of Direct Revelation continues to surprise me with each chapter. There is an intent to shift the vibration upward but the author and joined voices of Modern Shamanism do not spare us the darkness in the retelling of their practice. I think that needs some explanation but Alberto Villoldo illustrates this “darkness” it well in the first few pages,

“In the West, we no longer remember how to die with grace and dignity. We shuttle the dying off to hospitals where death is considered a disease and extraordinary measures are taken to prolong life at all costs. Families do not know how to come to closure with the passing of a loved one. Many people die in fear, with unresolved issues, not having said the “I love you’s and “I forgive you”s that would be so healing for them and their families. We have tried to make death invisible; we think that if we ignore it long enough, it will go away.”

Sandra Ingerman writes,

“When someone starts to speak about impending death, the usual social response is, “Don’t talk like that, you are going to get well and you will be back on our feet before you know it.” Yet we are all going to go through the death experience sooner or later.

Denial that a big change is coming, and that this change is inevitable, blocks understanding. It also blocks true loving and supportive communication on all sides. As a result, many people die in a state of acute fear and anxiety, while their families and doctors try to hold them here for as long as possible.”

~Pgs. 180-181, Awakening to Shamansim

We have a wealth of spiritual and cultural traditions all over the world who speak of an afterlife among spirits of friends, family, and even deities. There are stories throughout time of near death experiences, visitations by those who have passed and encounters with other  entities from places beyond our sight. It’s strange to me that we have built a culture of horror around the passage from this life into the other world(s).

Personally I have had more encounters than I can count in a moment. I would have to take my time perusing journals and memories to pull every thread together, weaving for you the blanket of my, and my families, experiences with “the dead”.  A few come to mind…

I have written about my great Aunt Joyce a few times, she had a great and lasting impression on my life, shaping much of my childhood as the one constant figure who was there for me. I love my mother, she was there, sometimes she wasn’t, but our Aunt Joyce would always step in and take care of us.

When Aunt Joyce passed the family collapsed.

Days leading up to her funeral turned to the moment when friends and family gathered at the Chapel near the foot of the Mission Hills. We came together in solemn and then teary remembrance, and with the Priest in charge of ceremonies we laughed, we cried, and then as entertaining priest began the Rosary a funny thing happened.

A light appeared behind the priest in the shape of a robed woman, crown ablaze with rings of light, hands folded in another nimbus of prayer. As I stared at her, this luminous being behind the prayers, feeling like a grain of sand to the sea, I heard my sister ask, “Who is that lady?”

When my sister spoke between my mother and me, we both turned from looking at the vision to stare at my sister, we had all seen her!

Our family has many such stories, I think coming from the South, my mother’s family had a way with connections, ours I think is spirits in one degree or another. I don’t claim to be a “Ghost Whisperer” but I have had my moments and time to think about a lot of these things, namely my own fear of death.

For a few years my thought was, if I am having this experience that tells me that we continue on after this life as we know it, why do I fear it? Really, it’s kind of silly.

I find that in the last year my perspective is changing. I’m in no hurry to leave / die, in fact I’d like to live a long and healthy life and end up on the Today’s Show, Smucker Jar as a Centennial. Here’s hopes for being upwardly mobile until my twilight years!

The rest of this chapter focuses on the aspects of transition, Death as a Rite of Passage:

  • The Life and Death Cycle
  • Stages of the Death Experience
  • The Bardos: The After-Death Realms in The Middle Worlds of Spirit
  • Maps to the Landscape Beyond Death
  • Psychopomp Work (this is an illustration, there is no way (stated) that the reader should attempt this work without advanced work).

The next chapter focuses more on this subject and I look forward to reading it. This is a singular issue that we will all face in various forms, from the passing of loved ones and eventually our own journey into otherness. It is vital that we learn to understand our relationships in life, and just as vital that we learn to accept with grace our eventual portal into the afterlife.

– – –
Be well,

Scott K Smith
http://lifencompass.com

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Subscribe via RSS. Leave a comment, those are always appreciated. Submit something for posting, topics and ideas are welcome.

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Greetings. Welcome back.

I was about to start a new post for the Chapter 9 review of Awakening to Shamanism, when I decided to post a bit more on sound. Chapter 8, Working with Sound and Light, inspired some connections this last week when I attended class on Wednesday evening. I’m now, happily, participating in a 10 week course entitled Runes 110, at the Points of Light bookstore in Long Beach. I mentioned this class a few weeks to a month or so back because one of our friends, Christopher Lung, is teaching it.

First week was refreshing, interesting and entertaining. I honestly didn’t realize the depth of history that the Runes carry, nor did I realize the span of years that they had existed. History can become boring to me but fortunately the topic is within the realm of “more than interesting” and Christopher is an entertaining, and informed, educator.

It takes me over an hour to get to Long Beach during traffic hour but it’s worth the commute.

This last Wednesday we did some Runic breathing and chanting, and this is why the class corresponded to the Chapter 8 topic.

Singing, chanting, and toning have been used throughout history in ritual and ceremony. It’s a powerful tool socially, brining us together in a common voice and cause, and in my opinion an important part of magickal work. No I don’t sing like Whitney (used to), or chant like a Tibetan Monk. I’ve had my moments of singing in tongues and of course there is always the use of vibration with magickal symbols, like the sacred Reiki Symbols, when healing… I must be silly, I wasn’t connecting the dots.

Chanting the names of the Runes, while visualizing them, in a group was “neat”. More than neat, the resonating with the Runes in carried voices was intense. OK. I’m solitaire for the most part. I have worked with others over the years on many occasions. I’ve been part of countless classes, lectures, and workshops, but raising our voices in vibrating unison was AMAZE-BALLS!

We worked on 4 Runes:

f Feoh / u Uruz / th,þ Thurisaz / a Os

The primal powers of the Runic alphabet, up and to the point of the point of consciousness (Odin / Os). We chanted each rune nine times. At points I felt like the power of my voice was raising up a little too loud but I let myself enjoy the experience. I may not sing very well but I do have some powerful lungs. *smile*

This got the hamsters spinning the wheel in my head. The power of the Rune was intensified by breath and sound, the same way that I empower the Reiki symbols (Cho Ku Rei, etc).

With Reiki symbols I use the following technique.

Reiki Gong: Technique’s in Reiki Practice

(Previously mentioned in the entry, Reiki-Gong).

Practice with Cho Ku Rei

As with the Violet Breath exercise, tongue to top of mouth, breath in circularly. Allow the energy to flow through nose and down the energetic paths of the chakra. Instead of cycling the energy down through the root chakra and up the back of the spine, breath it into your second chakra, just below or about your navel. Fill that area up with the energy, a golden light.

Next we will draw the symbol.

Draw the golden light up from this Chakra, our center, and out the arms to the palms of the hands and with your dominant hand, draw the Reiki Symbol, in this case the Choku Rei. Imagine it as a golden symbol. The seven and the spiral.

Place this symbol into that which you are sending Reiki. Hold the symbol as if you were holding a dish, about the size of a dinner place and gently feel it descend into the client or object. Gently move it about until you feel some resistance. Gently push into that resistance until you feel it “click” into place.

Vibrate the CKR name three times. Say it aloud, draw it out, vibrate the name. Three times. Place your hands on the recipient / object and pass Reiki.

When you feel the Reiki complete, when the energy ebbs, gently withdraw the symbol and bring it back to your center, just around or below the naval and put the golden energy back into this place. Take your hands, palms flat to leave the hand chakras open, and push the symbol in. Breath into this center a few times.

Check out your results. Was it different? How?

I’ve practiced with this new technique on the three traditional Reiki Symbols. I have drawn the symbol large enough to fit a room and gently clicked it into place and vibrated the name and sat with the energy. I have used it on myself, on the crystal grid that surrounds my home and even in distance healing. For myself I’ve been pleasantly surprised each time at home much more effective the energy seems to flow.
Notes:

Why the center, the 2nd Chakra?

Because this is our Ki, our energy that we are using to draw a path, a channel for the Reiki energy to enter. Think of it like a straw or a catch for the Reiki energy.

Why do we lock it into place?

We do this because it sets a focal point for the symbol to recieve the energy. Drawing the Life Force Energy into place and purpose. Where it is needed and the effect of the symbol.

Why do we withdraw the symbol?

Because the gold light is our ki. It has been infused with Reiki and it will continue to empower your Reiki center over time. Consider this spot below the navel, the 2nd chakra, like a well of personal energy. it is replenished by the Reiki with each use. The more you practice this form of Reiki the stronger that center becomes.

Let me know your results. Try the SHK and the HSZSN as well.

If you are interested in that particular form of Reiki practice or would like to read more, visit the entry on Reiki Gong for more info and a link to the book / author who I learned the technique from.

I’m thinking that the next 8 weeks of class will be a whole lot of fun. I’m also feeling that my magickal practice just expanded in a new way and all it took was a big breath and a strong vibe.

Until next week.

– – –
Be well,

Scott K Smith
http://lifencompass.com

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As promised (if a little late), the Dream Gatherer, which I call Dream Circles. This exercise came out of Awakening to Shamanism, chapter 6 ~ Dreams.

In Awakening to Shamanism, the Path of Direct Revelation, Carol Proudfoot-Edgar:

“…We also construct “dream gatherers,” usually using natural materials in the landscape where we are meeting. Dreams are a doorway into another world, and the dream gatherer is the door. Think of the wreaths that people make Christmas (Yule, Winter Solstice ~Scott) and hang on their doors. There is a circle within the wreath. The dream gatherer is made from things from Nature and has a circle that represents the doorway into the dream world. These are then placed somewhere close to each dreamer and used to entice the dreamer and the dream spirits to join one another in mutual collaboration.”

I personally wanted to create a safe circle of communication for the dream work. This particular piece would be for two dreamers.

Dream Circles, by Scott K Smith. 12'' x 36'', Acrylic on Canvass, Paper Machete, organic materials (stones, vines picked respectfully).

"The Guardians" Spirit detail in "Dream Circles.

Aside from the obvious circles with the connecting pathway, there are three spirit guardians between the portals. The feathers are made from the under feathers of a Redtail Hawk, in blue, white, gold, and purple representing their protective and insightful energies while one journey’s in the dream. These guardians mind the pathway to and from the world of dreams, casting illuminating light on the message for the dreamer.

Dream Circles is one of the paintings that will be appearing in the August, 2010 show, downtown Los Angeles.

I hope to see you then.

– – –
Be well,

Scott K Smith
http://lifencompass.com

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Subscribe via RSS. Leave a comment, those are always appreciated. Submit something for posting, topics and ideas are welcome.

If you are just joining me in these posts you can catch up on the chapter-by-chapter book review of Awakening to the spirit world through these posts:

Chapter 8: Working with Sound and Light

Welcome back. First I want to say that I did finish the project from Chapter 6, Dreaming: The Dream Circle. It is a painting, created to safely access the World of Dream. It was a work in progress and I will post a few photos this weekend so that you can get a better look at it. The Dream Circle will be part of the evolving body of work that I had planned for the collaborative show in August… which is “evolving” on its own and becoming a bit more than I had anticipated. Anyway, as I said, details are to come.

This chapter is about Sound and Light. I assumed that sound would come along eventually as sound, ceremony, and ritual are generally brought together for altering our state of consciousness, bringing people together into a group mind or energy field, and to call in the helping forces and spirits that one wold need. These are a few of the ways in which sound compliments healing or magickal work.

The chapter begins with historical and cultural stories of first sounds and sound healing deities and then moves into topics like:

  • Drumming and Healing
  • Gods of the Harp
  • Power Songs, and finding your power song
  • Singing and Healing Patterns

Tom Cowan, in the Gods of the Harp part, writes:

“This is keeping with other cultures that we see the universe as something vibrational or something created by a voice, song or sacred word.

In an old Irish myth, the goddess Boann (later her name become Boyne, on of Ireland’s sacred rivers) gives birth to three sons who become harpers. As each son is born, Boann’s husband, Uainthe, plays music on his harp to accompany her experience. The first birth is difficult, so he plays a lament or song of sorrow; the second birth is joyful because she realizes she is having another child, so he plays a happy tune; and she falls asleep during the third delivery because she is tired, so he plays a lullaby. When the boys become harpers, each specializes in the type of music he heard when he came into the world. I think of them as the gods of the harp.

(Later) …A simple way to  use this matrix for healing is to hum these three strains of music for someone as a kind of prayer. Visualize the person in distress or pain and hum a low tone, then watch the person’s face begin to smile as youmove up a couple of notes on the scale, then see the person in total peace as you move the hum up a coupel more notes (C, E, and G work well). This can be done in one slow breath as you exhale. Then keep repeating this as a kind of breathing-humming meditaiton for several minutes in which ou send out healing with your breaths and intentions. Not surprisingly, you’ll find that this brings you too into a wonderful state of peace”

~Tom Cowan, Awakening to Shamanism, Pgs 162-163

Although I personally find the harp relaxing, I find the toning to be an interesting of simple sound therapy. I don’t know much about toning or sound therapy as a medium for healing, I have benefited from experience.

My friend Jamie Bechtold is a great Sound Therapist and recently performed at the Eagle Rock Center for the Arts, during the Autumn, Spring, and Summer Equinox’s. Three powerful planetary gongs accompanied by four crystal singing bowls, and two sound healers. Phenomenal!

I attended the Spring Equinox Sound Bath among revelers, and friends old and new. Initially the sound was overwhelming. I don’t to say it was scary or distracting but the power of the gongs and bowls are overwhelming. It is a “bath” of sound. The beat, pulse, and vibration took me deep, and then into a state of release, before brining me back to (that moments’) present. The only other time I can think that I have experienced something like this was with drumming.

Back in 199*mumble* I attended a small circle in San Francisco. We all had various instruments and I, a small hand held drum. I was nervous about the chanting and drumming because I am a perfectionist about certain things and I didn’t feel that my voice was very harmonious… and I think the last time I had played on a drum, I was five. Irregardless I joined along with the drumming, and kept my chanting to myself. Somewhere in the rhythm we were generating, us four, I got lost. I’m not sure where but I had one of these fall into the ecstatic states. I can recall plains tribes, being an old woman with a long life and a deep sorrow, singing a song for those who had passed.

No wait, I did sing it. I not only sang it but I took the lead in the circle and sort of dominated it with this painful song. I was a little embarrassed but the people I was drumming with, after a moment of shock (which makes me laugh at this point) were pretty supportive.

Sound has a profound and amazing effect on many things, not just me. 🙂

This section continues into something entirely interesting, which I want to call weaving tapestries of sound and light, but it isn’t really an exercise. There are exercises in the chapter to explore the world of sound in making song and working with the “song” of things. One exercise helps us to find the song of a plant. Jose Stevens worked with the Shipibo and their use of healing through song. This is where I draw the feeling of tapestries of sound and light.

“According to the Shipibo, everyone has a song, everyone can sing, and Spirit gives  everyone song upon request. All that matters is that you are willing to sing.”

~Page 166

You’ll need to pick up a copy for his full telling of the Shipibo’s use of song in mystical work, it’s fascinating stuff!

Though you may  not sing or use song in your work, you can use music to find altered states, to accompany your journey. There are albums created for healing, dream, and shamanic work (and more) that you can find to work with. These may or may not be healing songs, but they can provide stepping stones into the world of sound and singing.

(Dead Can Dance is one group of artists that can quickly take me into altered states and I often use them for meditation, sessions, and magickal work).

Personally I recommend finding a rattle, drum, or other hand held instrument that you can use at home. Try some rhythms, find what feels right. It shouldn’t be complex. State your intent and begin to make music with the intent as the meaning of the sound. When you are comfortable with that level of work, trying sining along. It may or may not have words that make sense, it doesn’t need to vocally make “sense”. In moments I’ve found that just singing the language that comes to me can be a powerful thing in cleansing the house, calling in helpful spirits, or vibrating the energy that we wish to bring into the space we are working in.

The later part of the chapter begins to focus on light. Not the light of the Sun, or color therapy, but the light of spirit, the white light, and the light of our spirits.

  • Working With Stones of Light
  • Working With Light
  • Exercise: Transfiguration
  • The Human Spirit
  • Maintaining A Spiritual State
  • A Journey To A Descendant

If you are reading along and you have or are working with the “Transfiguration” exercise I would love to hear about your experience(s). This process involves using the Light to shift, or transform parts of self, illness, or thoughts (for example) into lighter forms of being. Imagine shifting a stagnant form that you find within your journey work that is stuck in pain, in the past, or in the type of darkness that does not serve us.

We’re coming into the three final chapters of Awakening to the Spirit World, The Shamanic Path of Direct Revelation. As I wind down I’m going to begin to incorporate more of the experiences and lessons from The Temple of Shamanic Witchcraft, Christopher Penczak, to continue the work.  I hope that you will join me.

Until then, enjoy the Journey.

– – –
Be well,

Scott K Smith
http://lifencompass.com

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