27 August, 2012

Giving birth to the Great Project

It's almost September already, and I feel like this year has zoomed by!

I graduated from Gryphons Grove School of Shamanism at the end of April, took a month to catch my breath in May, and began my professional healing practice in June. I've had three excellent months of meeting new people, working with them on their private concerns, and solidifying my relationships with all the Spirits in my head, as well as meeting some new ones (see how I met Artemis!).

As I've continued to balance both my physical work of Psychologist with my spiritual work of Healer, my Spirits hit me with a profound question:

What do you want to do with your Training?

This question knocked my off my paws, because in truth, I hadn't really thought about it! I had just assumed that after graduation, I would become a professional healer, and work with those who found their way to me in Parkville, MD.

Not good enough, they said in my head. Too easy.

And they're right. It's too easy to just write a blog and hope that people find me in my corner of the world. It's too easy to just begin healing relationships with those the Universe sends my way for teaching. It does not honor the Gifts that the Spirits give when they work through me, because how can I possibly try to explain everything that clients should know in only 1-2 hours?!?

So I tried to figure it out. I pulled some cards, and then some Runes, and then some different cards, and then called all my fellow graduates for their advice, and spun around in circles.

I was avoiding thinking about it myself. On my own.

So I sat outside and I thought. And pondered. And even cogitated while ruminating during a walk (try to picture that in your head!). And I came up with a few different strong ideas.

I went back to the cards. Should I combine my Shamanic Training with a therapy license? Hell no! they said, as that would lead to all kinds of chaos and misunderstandings and legal confusion and malpractice crap. Should I write articles for blogs and maybe magazines about the interconnectedness of mental illness and soul loss? Getting closer, we like it... I heard in my head. Should I write a book? Ding ding ding she got it, before the Two-by-Four came out!

Holy sheisse! A book! I was so overwhelmed by the idea that I didn't touch the cards or talk to the Spirits for another three days!

When I thought more about it, and talked it over with a few different trusted friends, many were excited by the idea. I still felt very anxious and shy about it, and would find that my fingers would seize each time I thought about the enormity of the idea.

But the Spirits had some excellent selling points; This is not necessarily a book for others, this is primarily a lesson for you to grow some confidence, experience, and discover what you have to offer the world. You are no longer a student, you now need to learn how to be a teacher, and that type of Energy Shift is massive and expansive. 

Once you have finished writing a book, you will know what we want you to Say and Do.

Well, alright then. Here's to the birth of the Great Unknown Book Project!

25 August, 2012

Stick a needle in a coyote and what do you get?

... A surprisingly relaxed Coyote!

Today, I visited one of my favorite healers, Neighborhood Acupuncture. I've visited them every few months for the past year and a half, and have become good friends with some of the practitioners there.

Now, as someone with a few tattoos and regular blood tests (yay modern medicine), you'd think I'd be all right around needles. And for the most part I am; I don't enjoy it, but I can turn my head away and take a deep breath and think of something else for a bit. But although I'd always been interested in acupuncture, I would shake with anxiety every time I approached an office. And then we'd slink away, tail between our legs.

Maybe it was the mystery of it, or the unknown amount of pain it might entail, but I never had enough guts to just do it.

Until I met the practitioners at Neighborhood Acupuncture in Laurel, who explained the steps of an appointment exactly, and described the varying ranges of "uncomfortability" when inserting the sterile, thin needles. But perhaps the biggest selling point for me was the fact that I could look at a group of the patients, all with needles in them, and all of them zonked out in full sleep mode on their chairs!

Each walk-in appointment is pretty much the same for me; I walk in, give a few hugs, describe my symptoms (either physical or mental!), and take a quick restroom break (nothing worse then laying down in a chair and having to pee!).

The acupuncture chairs that this office uses are amazing. They start in a regular seated position, and can be tilted back and locked into place, so that your body makes a comfortable "V" shape. After I'm lying down, the practitioner will take my pulses radially (on the wrists, both sides) and say something wonderfully cryptic and wise, "Oh! You shaman-types are always in the Metal!", and begin opening the sterile needle packages and inserting them on different parts of my body.

The main parts that I always seem to get "stuck" are the forearms, shins, tops of my feet, and hairline/forehead. Sometimes, I'll have a few in my hair, too!

Most of the time, I can't feel the needles at all. At All. They are so thin, and they barely go into my skin, that all I feel is something similar to the lightness of a fly landing on my bare skin. But on occasion, there will be one or two needles that I can definitely feel...and they sting a bit going in (sort of like the pain that comes from stepping on a small stone when you're barefoot).

However, no matter how much I suck my teeth when the stinging ones go in, once they are in, the pain vanishes in 5-8 seconds, and so does a large amount of tension that was also there (tension I didn't even realize I had).

After the needles are in, the practitioner leaves the room, and I am zoning out to the soft lighting and soothing background music. Within minutes, I'm in sleepy-time land, and my thoughts sort of go all over the place. Most of the time, I can see my Helping Spirits next to me, but if I open my eyes, they pop out of my regular vision. But mostly, I just breath in and out, in a light nap, and try to release all the stress of the workweek.

I've had some profound "Aha!" moments, daydreaming in the acupuncture chair, although it may have taken 15-20 minutes of going through my day in my head to get there. I've also had a lot of "Duh!" moments (what Coyote et al call "Two-by-Fours"), too, in which I've found the answer to a problem because I've finally sat down and thought about it. 

And on other occasions, I've just enjoyed a nap, and felt relaxed and slightly "buzzy" from it, and woken up to find a Nature Spirit was relaxing along with me:
Yes, this is totally a spider hanging on the acupuncture needle that's in my foot!
I would recommend acupuncture to just about everyone, although I would caution that you check out a practitioner's credentials first. Neighborhood Acupuncture displays their awards and certifications right inside the door of the office, so that you may ask questions about their education and experiences.

Maybe I'll see you at my next visit!

12 August, 2012

A funny synchronicity about Artemis...

I've been practicing my archery skills for a little over ~4 months now (see my previous post about Red-Tailed Hawk!), and I've started to feel a bit of a poke in my brain from a Goddess of Archery...

Synchronicity, in a shamanic perspective, is one wonderfully obvious way for a Spirit or Deity to begin communication with a shaman. For me, it begins with with a lazy daydream or an idea about a particular animal or myth. I'll Google it, and then read a particular line or two that really make me think about either a deity's philosophy, or I'll start seeing a particular animal Everywhere.

I had enjoyed some of Artemis' mythology, and was interested in getting to know Her a bit better. But I wasn't quite sure if she was interested in talking with me. So I "set up" a way for the Universe to give me a really obvious sign. This set up has to have a few mandatory items:

1. A specific physical manifestation (either a picture in a book, words in a song on a radio, etc. Nothing too difficult, or else the Universe can't make it happen).

2. Time-bound (this is extremely important! With my Coyote-brain, we can only pay attention for 30 minutes max, or we start to think about other things. If a request is not time-bound, then the Universe could answer it when I'm not paying attention!).

3. An outlet, or "back-door", so that if the answer is "No", the Universe will just not make an obvious sign or omen.

So, to determine if Artemis and I should be better acquainted, I stated, out loud, at the beginning of my day, "I would like to find a statue of Artemis with a bow & arrows to purchase. I would like to find it by the end of my day in southern Maryland, and if it is not meant to be, then it will not be in any of the stores I visit today."

After hanging out with my friends, we entered a pagan shop, and I began looking at the shelves. Immediately, I find a gorgeous statue of Artemis behind a few Norse statues, and she has a bow & arrows!

There were no other statues of Her in the shop, nor of Diana or other women of the woods, so that was my "Aha!" moment from the universe. She wanted to get to know me as I was getting to know Her!
I love her antlers, howling wolf, and the fact that she is standing on the Moon!
Omens like this always have a bit of a "trick" to them-- I realized this as I brought Her to the cashier. I turned her over, and saw that she was $62! Oooooof! That was about $30 more than I had planned to spend today, but as I had asked, I made the commitment and purchased the statue.

I'm looking forward to the beginning of a new relationship!

What funny synchronicities have affected your life?

06 August, 2012

How a Coyote learns a lesson in Focus from Red-Tailed Hawk

One of the most difficult things for me, during Journeywork, is to maintain my focus on the images that are flowing through my head, and to follow them to their logical (or bizzare) conclusions.

Working with Coyote, who likes to flit about as much as I do, it's doubly hard. On the one hand, I've gotten very good at splitting my attention in at least five different directions. I can hear one animal in part of my head, see a shadowy intrusion inside a client, hear my teacher's voice singing her sacred songs, blink and visualize my hands into paws with claws, and listen to my client's questions.

However, on the other paw, when working with Bear, he is very specific about the level of intense focus I need for certain workings. It can be dangerous, if I am not paying full attention, and I can lose myself, or a part of a client that I am bringing back.

I am not the best person for fully focused mediation, preferring activities that keep both my body and mind busy on a task. So when I supported friends at an archery contest, I immediatley saw this as a way to learn intense focus. In a funny synchronicity, my mother told me that she used to practice archery for almost seven years! I took that as my "Aha!" moment (my Two-By-Four from the Universe) and purchased a bow and arrows.

Upon driving up to Lancaster Archery in PA, I saw numerous birds of prey fly by the car. They were all Red-Tailed Hawks:
from Pat's Backyard Bird Cam
Red-Tailed Hawks have famously focused vision and intense concentration. They also have the easily-recognizable screech used in countless ads and movies (the sound I sometimes make when I don't want to wake up).

I saw the same large amount of Red-Tailed Hawks driving back to Maryland, after purchasing my bow, and so I decided to ask for the Hawk's blessing of my endeavor, and of my bow. I painted a small image on the arrow rest, and have named my bow Red Hawk, in honor of the new relationship and skill I hoped to have with him.

I've been at the range for a little over two months, practicing this new skill. And it is hard. I am not using sights, only instinct, pure focus, and the visualization of the Red-Tail Hawk next to me. I'm not really hoping to ever hit a bull's eye, or hunt, as this is a purely meditative and magical practice.

But I have noticed an increase in my ability to focus, both at work, and at tasks at home. In my Journeys, I've found that I can bring myself back to my visions quicker (if I start to meander), and they are clearer and more grounded in my senses of taste, smell, hearing, touch, and vision...

Ok, now I'm taking the keyboard away from Monika-- she really just wanted to show off her "Katniss" impression!!!   <-- Coyote, duh.

Oh yeah!