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Hello hello.

I’m very sorry for the late post, but I’ve had a very busy and full day… and this isn’t my full time job, however much I would like for it to be. No really, pay me and I will make it so. *wink*

Any-ho-ho here’s the bits from the reading and a few updates. They all interrelate, you know how I like to draw lines.

First the Conscious Life Expo (post conference) with Hank Wesselman.

As I read The Bowl of Light and get better acquainted with him and the story I am moved to comment and support his work and path. You can read the review here, at Lifencompass. I love this book.

Yesterday was no exception to my enjoyment, or my exploration. Hank is lovingly multifaceted, humorous, intelligent, detailed, wise, and learned. I sat in the presence of an elder and I came away better for it. First for knowing that his work rings truth and second that he is, really, a walker between worlds. There was a distinctive twinkle in his eyes that communicated the light of what he represents and teaches. We’re lucky to have him, and people like him, in the world today. He sees into you, he looks at you from the heart. A Shaman.

After the seminar, and some Journey Work to the drum: forgiveness. Healing. Compassion. My friend K and I took some time to catch up and talk about events in the world. Most specifically the recent changes and the quickened, or compact, nature of the latests shifts. (See end of last year through present).

I have to reference this week, last weeks reading:

The spirit addresses us in those who command the physical. Men or women who are rulers in their own right, leaders, kings, emperors, politicians, officials. The light shines through them, their message or the message around them. This is significant in that their decisions are affecting our environment, the physical and social realms that we operate within. The mother.

We are rulers in our own right. Do not let persuasive power move you. Keep your wit and your strength, by claiming your own choices (destiny) and going the direction that feels right for your own growth, practice, or period of life.

This flows with and through a pervasive sense of rising waters as the energy shifts in the subtle, that are chaning consciousness. It is as if the flavor of things have changed and we are all experiencing it. Some of us on a conscious level, others simply living through it.

This week the catalyst has been sent to us. The cracks in the world of last weeks reading have been set to motion, as the Tower places center in our weekly spread.

Tarot Weekly Feb 14-20, 2011

Tarot Weekly

I would like to have this song playing but the music The House that Jack Built playing as you read the weekly, but I couldn’t find a quality version online.

This is the house that Jack built, y’all
Remember this house!

This was the land that he worked by hand
The was the dream of an upright man
This was the room that was filled with love
This was a love that I was proud of
This was a life of a love I planned
Of a love and a life we loved
Of the house that Jack built.
Remember this house!

There was the fence that held our love,
There was the gate that he walked out of
This is the heart that is turned to stone
This was the house, but it ain’t no home
This is the love that I once had
In a dream that I thought was love,
This is the house that Jack built,
I’m gonn’ remember this house!

Oh-ohh wha-a-at’s the use of crying?
Because I brought it on myself
There’s no denying
But it see-e-ee-ems awful funny
That I didn’t understand
Was it a house of an upright man

~Aretha Franklkin

The call this week is for authenticity. To speak from the place of power that has been defined by ourself, within ourself, and in the world and relationships. Our dear Queen of Swords has appeared again in reverse. Though normally she is the direct speaker, often received as harsh, her words are now split or subtle. This tells me that our words can be misinterpreted or that observing the inner dialogue will reveal motivations or paths that can lead us to our goals without direct intervention or confrontation.

These are mental games to watch for in yourself. In either realm, especially the energetic, keep your poise and balance by maintaining grace and authenticity. Be moved by your choices and not the choices of others…

The next two cards ask questions about our changes. What are you holding on? Why are you holding on to it?  What are your choices? What feels right in the heart and makes sense? The heart is not the leader but one of our voices, the conversation must include the head for discernment and practicality. Meaning that you can spend a lot of time over analyzing but, hello *poke* this is the tower, it’s burning. Time to move folks.

Change is upon you but the power to deflect what can feel like a strike at you is yours. Authenticity requires that we are absolutely truthful with ourself about ourself, our motives, wants, and needs. Act from a place of light and awareness. That very thing lessens any connection to human dramas that may evolve from this change. Be above it (spiritual) and within it (grounded and present), let your honesty shine.

Change is now. It is irrevocable as a cycle completes a final turn and begins to close. The time for planning and negotiating, deciding direction and picking opportunities is past. The Tower burns, meaning that the structure is indeed hashed, the end is now.

The Eight of Cups Reversed….

“The reversed Eight of Cups suggests that you may be feeling confused about where your best options lie. Part of you wants to explore new horizons and possibilities, but another part of you fears that in doing so, you’ll miss out on what your current circumstances have to offer.

The Eight of Cups reversed also represents knowing when to walk away from a situation that is ultimately not working for you.” ~Biddy Tarot

“In a reversed position, the Eight of Cups often indicates struggles concerning separation or moving on. There may be on over attachment to one’s past. In some cases, the Eight of Cups can indicate co-dependency or fear of being alone. There may be a reluctance to mature or grow up. Although you may feel dissatisfied, your fears are preventing you from moving on.” ~Tarot Readings online.

The fear there to be watched for is “giving up the dream,” because it could feel like you are walking away from your path. The reality is that only you can abandon that dream. Situations do not force you away from it, they only offer alternative directions is our intentions are set on the path and the goal.

The path can hardly be called a straight line from point A to point B. There are twists and turns.

I see that moment in the movie Labyrinth where a young Jennifer Connelly, as Sarah is entering the labyrinth. A little catarpillar tries to direct her through what appears to be a solid wall. No going forward, no way in, but it is an illusion. She passes through the the wall and see’s two new directions.

Unfortunately Sarah doesn’t heed the advice of her little ally and she takes a left or right path, when she could have walked right up to the tower of the Goblin King and skipped the whole dam labyrinth. Isn’t that the fools quest…

My intuition points at this: quiet your tongue about your goal and ambition, much like spell-craft it can be knocked off course by psychic interfearence. (Often unitentional). Keep that to yourself or only with those who have your goal in mind and support it, unequivocally. The end of a period related to structures in your life has come.  Do not fall into despair, walk hidden paths, seek the exit from the structure which is crumbling around you. This is a physical structure as in a job or home situation, things built on agreements with other people.

Say goodbye to that House that Jack Built, use the challenges you have at the moment to strengthen your inner fire; and protect that flame, veil it.

The support you may need can come from high and/or low. The presence of the White Phoenix lends aid from the upper realms as spiritual transformation, mirroring what happens at the soul level. As above so below.

And below… Yes there is a pink stone, a rhodochrosite on a matrix of pyrite. This is both protection (pyrite) and energizing and related to the heart (rhodochrosite) helping to circulate the energy of love, compassion, alchemy, and transformation.

Times can seem trying, tough, but if we keep faith in our abilities, self-determination, and instincts while lending trust to the forces that seek our betterment both physically and spiritually we can overcome anything and evolve into something greater.

Know. Will. Dare. Keep silent. And give offerings of thanks for those that assist you.

– –

Scott K Smith
http://lifencompass.com
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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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Sorry about the slow / or low posting this week. I’ve been on a meditative hiatus delving into some shadow work. That would be part of the Temple of Shamanic Witchcraft training. Tho I’m about to move on some of the stuff that has come up has been very personal, very intimate, and very uncomfortable…

I’m not sure that it’s blog worthy and most of it will be taken to the fire for recycling.

I’ll be back on course soon.

Be well,

Scott

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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Hi there.

There is another benefit this month in Malibu that I wanted to bring to your attention. Another good time for a great cause. Among the items up for raffle you will find…

The Dreaming: Dream Circles.

The Dreaming: Dream Circles

I wrote about this painting recently and it is part of the Shamanic Journey / Awakening to the Spirit World book review. You can find that blog post here.

I will most likely be at this event.

Don’t forget your checkbook. We have more than 100 items to raffle and auction off, including hots sailors and sailorettes.

If you can’t make the event you can always make a donation directly to the Van Ness Recovery House through their website. Van Ness Recovery House Donation Link.

Malibu Barbie’s USO Beach Party

Benefitting the Van Ness Recovery House

ADVANCE ONLINE TICKETS: www.MalibuBarbiesBeachParty.org
$12 Advance / $15 At The Door

Sunday August 22, 2010
11:00 am 8:00 pm

    • Beach Play 11:00 am
    • USO Tribute Drag Show and Competition 2:00 pm
    • Raffle 3:30 pm
    • Sailor/ Sailor-ette Auction 4:00 pm
    • Silent Auction 12:00 5:00 pm
    • Dinner Caravan to Neptune – 8:00 PM-10:00 PM

Please remember to bring a picnic basket. Guests are expected to bring their own lunch and refreshments.

Don’t forget your check book for the silent auction and raffle. Prizes already include a weekend in Palm Springs, a spa massage package, a family pack to California Adventures and Disney Land, and more than 75 other super hot items!
———————————————–

ADVANCE ONLINE TICKETS: www.MalibuBarbiesBeachParty.org

TO DONATE SILENT AUCTION OR RAFFLE ITEMS:
Call Fundraising Committee Chair Carlos Cortez at (323) 620-8810 or “Contact Us” at www.MalibuBarbiesBeachParty.org
______________________________________________________________

Van Ness Recovery House

Donate online to the Van Ness Recovery House in Los Angeles at:http://www.vannessrecovery.org/donations.html

The Van Ness Recovery House is a licensed and certified alcohol and drug recovery home designed to provide opportunities to the gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender and heterosexual communities. All services are offered in both English and Spanish.

We provide a highly structured and safe environment, where the residents learn how to make healthy life choices while receiving direct experience with the 12 steps of recovery through an intense schedule of meetings, alcohol/drug education and discussion groups.

The House was opened in May 1973 as a Joint, co-operative effort of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center (GLCSC) and a group of dedicated and visionary members of Alcoholics Anonymous. In 1976, the Van Ness Recovery House separated from GLCSC and became an independent non-profit corporation dedicated to serving the needs of gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender and heterosexual men and women, regardless of their ability to pay, who suffer from the debilitating effects of the disease of alcoholism and/or drug addiction.

The Van Ness Recovery House opened a 20-bed facility on Beachwood Drive in 1973 and became aware of serving its first HIV-infected resident in 1984. The program has since served 1,632 HIV-infected residents. In the past five years, 61% of transgendered clients entering the program have been HIV-infected, 80% of all residents have been HIV-infected and over 86% of the residents have been homeless, having had little or no reportable income of the previous year. Over 2500 men and women have been given a new start in life thanks to a community that cares.

Our goals are simple and straightforward:

•Increase the length of abstinence from drugs and alcohol
•Decrease STD/STI occurrence
•Increase HIV and mental health medication adherence
•Increase the length of free time
•Develop an expanding network of culturally appropriate role models
•Increase employment rates
•Provide safer sex information and empowerment to the populations family/partners
•Create a replicable model program

The Van Ness Recovery Home does not discriminate in services or employment because of race, color, sex, age, national origin, handicap, sexual orientation or HIV antibody status. We would like to emphasize that although we largely target the gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender community, we also have an extremely high success rate with our heterosexual clients.

********

– – –
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.

Scott Lifencompass

These are my thoughts, sketchy they may be, but I’ve stripped myself of the journal and I’m doing my best to post my thoughts to The Journey. If you are joining me now at this point this may sound like gobbly-guck but I’ve been working at these things for over three years now, dedicated to reclaiming my magickal path. Follow along, chirp in as you feel, please don’t hesitate to contribute. (I will douse “flames” and kick trolls in a heartbeat. 🙂 )

As I’ve been told, so I am thinking, that I know this work: Shamanism for the self, for the work I do.

I’ve read through the Temple of Shamanic Witchcraft off an on, between the book review, art, and work. I have to say that I have found a lot of useful information, knowledge that fills in the gaps in what I know. I’ve had great conversation here on The Journey, at Lifencompass.com and with friends and a few fellow magickal folk.

Today as I read through much of the book, I realized that I do know this material, in part by practice (interpreted) and in part by… well I don’t know but I know it. Thinking this brings me back to my first Re-dedication ritual where I met much of what shaped my path today. In that first re-dedication I experienced the following:

After a ritual cleansing and consecration of my self, body, mind, and spirit, in the Inner Temple, I found a doorway just beyond the temple. A passage to a hill marked with stones, much like Stonehenge, and there by a fire in the center sat two deities: an Earth Mother (Gaia-like) and a horned God.

I spoke my intentions to them to re-dedicate myself to my path. I spoke my intention aloud and waited for their answer amidst the stones. There under the moon, within my sacred space, the God brought forward a host of voices. Spirits. It is hard to describe this moment… It was as if the cry of a thousand healers, witches, medicine people and folk passed through me. I cannot say how long  I was in this place but I felt the memory pass knowledge and history to me. There is no time or space to detail it all to you now. I don’t know that I could, but I had a grounded sense of all that passed into me, settled into the blood and bone of myself.

There was anger, hurt, torture and death. There was also a gathered sense of purpose, as if I gifted with something important, the role and title of Witch. In that moment I was both humbled and honored. I wrote in my journal that it was a lot like a massive download of information and feeling, compacted into moments.

When I came out of this Initiation it was as if my brow was alight with a flaming pentagram that wreathed my head in light and fire. My arms emblazoned with bracers, etched in knots and more pentacles, aflame. Ah but so were my legs in old world bracers as well, adorned the same.

I was alight!

Since that time so much has changed (significantly) and often “information” just pops in. Remembering what I have not recalled in some time, or before in this lifetime.

It’s an honest journal entry and I feel I have to spell it out. I’m about to complete my Shamanic initiation / re-dedication. For me it is an attument to water but other elements come into play, ideas, images, and notations that I have to scribble down for myself so that I gather what I need before I pass through the vortex of this door.

Some of these ideas are tools.

I don’t have a cauldron. Yes, smack me. “What sort of Witch are you???” But really I have used cups, vessels, “lota’s” and pottery. Until now the use of this elemental tool has seemed strange, or replaceable with substitutes. At this point I cannot see how I can continue with this underworld symbol.

Other things have popped in as well, things to do, things to find, and this is my laundry list of items and tasks to bring together before I do the next re-dedication:

  1. Cauldron: as I said this seems (now) vital in its purpose, use, and significance. No more kitchen bowls. Yes, my dear cooking pots, you will be spared the flames of rights, I will now seek out a cauldron.
  2. Spirit Relationships: I felt that I was covering this pretty well. I’m a daily ritual person in the morning where I say hello to the four directions and my guardians, guides, and the avatar’s of the directions. Including the guides that are with me beyond the four corners. I am drawn to strengthen these ties, this family of spirits around me. I’m thinking the following:
    1. Journey work to each guardian for insight. I will detail as I can.
    2. A symbolic tool associated with each totem, tether, or object that represents each force, gathered together in a bag and ritually blessed. There is memory niggling at me. I gave away a bag like this a long time ago, when I had no boundary, when I was young. It’s time to reclaim that power and strengthen these ties.
    3. Shield: Highlighted at the end of the book is the instructions to build a shield, detailed with representations of your spiritual allies. Artist aside, I’m drawn towards the making of this spirit shield. (To be made after I do the journey work).
  3. I need to connect with a group. That’s a bit of a challenge for me at this phase because I’m following the course of my path and I’m not a traditionalist in any sense of the word… tho  I have deep reservations about a lot of the “eclectic” groups out there, mostly because I’m a solitary Witch. Yet the call is there.

Writing out these thoughts is helpful but also important. I’ve challenged myself to come out as much as possible here at The Journey, to bring you along on my quest. I hope to detail each of these experiences and my eventual re-dedication before moving onto the next three attunements.

In the bigger picture I feel that this work brings more to my goal, the purpose of the site and my work, to serve, to create, to make.

Thoughts, ideas, advise? I know I have some good loving connections out there, wise and chatty. Hit me up.

Be well,

Scott

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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Scott Lifencompass

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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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:

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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