Last week, my Grandfather died.
He lived to be 82, and had a good death. He was able to die and then come back long enough to say his final goodbyes to many of my family at the hospital. I am so thankful for that, and I am thankful that a relative was able to perform his Last Rites.
His death occurred on the New Moon of this month (April 21st), which is a day that I have set aside for personal Shamanic Homework. As I am focusing on Psychopomp work (see previous entries), I found that I had a great amount of fear and grief that kept me from Journeying.
In previous times, if I was fearful, or lazy, or procrastinated too long in my Shamanic Homework, I would arrive in the Otherworld to a verbal lashing from my Spirits! The general Two-by-Four that hit me over the head repeatedly was, "How can you expect us to work with you when healing clients if you won't get off your ass and learn the work?!?" Of course, after a few bites and Dismemberments, I went on to have some pretty incredible Journeys.
This time, I didn't want to do the work, because I didn't want to pop out into the Land of the Dead and end up seeing Grandpa when I wasn't ready at all. I wasn't really sure that I even wanted to be the one to actively direct him to my Spirits, and so I lit a candle, poured a beer, and asked that my Spirits meet up with him and Guide him without me.
Afterwards, I started to feel guilty, and tried to pull a few Runes and Tarot cards to see if my Spirits were pissed off again. I got such confusing omens that I eventually put everything away in a huff and ate some chocolate. I resigned myself to the uncomfortable feeling that surrounds death and grief and didn't think about my homework again.
During the Second Night of Grandpa's death (after Calling Hours but before the Funeral), I tossed and turned and couldn't quiet my mind enough to sleep. I also felt too afraid to really sleep, in case I dreamed a True Dream about Grandpa. I exhausted myself by reading the Hunger Games (wonderful books!) and entered the half-awake/half-asleep state right before the blackness of full sleep.
I heard his voice. He said my name.
I knew it was real, because everyone else in the house was asleep, it was 3am, I was half-unconscious myself, and I immediately felt the full-body tingle that comes with a Real Experience.
From all my years of training, I knew how difficult it was to Hear and/or See something in the regular physical world that was purely spiritual in nature. But I was too afraid to follow his voice and Journey. I said, out loud, "I love you Grandpa, and I miss you, and I hope that my Spirits are helping you, but I can't Visit you in this way just yet. I'm going to go to sleep now." And I grounded myself by reading more of my book and concentrating only on the physical world around me. And I didn't hear him again.
Upon waking the next day, and all of the days after that, I have felt the grief subside a bit, and I find myself see-sawing back and forth on whether or not I actually heard him. I felt disappointed in myself at first, that I didn't follow the possible opportunity to speak with him so soon after Death, but I am proud that I recognized my fear and did not try to Journey where I was not yet ready to go.
The same ethical standards that I use in my psychological work help me in this spiritual work. I find I have a much better time of it if I do not engage in Dual Relationships (working for family and friends as possible clients). The extra anxiety, stress, fear, and intermingling of other emotions make it very difficult for me to evaluate my experiences objectively.
I know that I will visit with Grandpa soon, and I look forward to the future, for when I am ready and have no fear.
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