Changing My Tune, Growing my Mind, Expanding my Heart and Self
“To be or not to be.”
“Very few of us are what we seem.” Agatha Christie
Honoring myself & those with whom and for whom I walk
I’ve made a statement in the past that I’ve stood by for a variety of reasons. I’ve declared that I am not a shaman in a loud sort of way to primarily stand apart from the noise brought by what I call the “Commodification of the Mystery”. It has also served to protect me from my own criticism, the inability to adequately articulate my own experience, who I am and what I represent. It’s kept me wrapped up, snuggled in fear even as I walk where others fear to go.
What has evolved since January 12, 2014, when my favorite old Ojibwa-Cree showed up in my world is that of which and for which shaman are made. Nine weeks ago I reached a point of interaction with Old Ones in my world that led me to declare out loud, “I will no longer deny you”. In doing so there was the recognition that in doing so I was denying an aspect of myself, a prominent aspect of my being: how I arrive at my knowing, receive direction, heal, walk between, and the strength of those who accompany me within my skin and outside my ordinary sight.
The poetry I write may appear interesting or inspiring, but like others who’ve connected to the universe in this way, each is connected to a profound, real experience that has brought revelation of my relationships with the elements, with those no longer visible, and with those living kin to whom I’m often guided. The poems have helped me express myself to a certain degree. They continue the flow but hint at more unsaid.
I am/we are, perhaps, anomalous. Certainly this fiery force of embodied energies exist beyond archetype and human-developed hierarchies. But each of those embodied within and who walk & ride shotgun with me are purposefully connected to me and to each other, whether they knew it in their lifetimes or not. They were then and continue to be, through me, a hearty, hardy sort that inspired warriors, hunters, healers, songwriters, storytellers and peacemakers alike.
I didn’t ask for this–though some may rightly argue I actually did at somewhen, wasn’t born into a particular way, have never been taught it, studied for it or otherwise sought it out. However, it has become clear that I was born for this.
I still have no connection to a particular faith, path, or belief system. They just began appearing, these ancients. Along with the visions, the ceremonies that I am compelled to participate in, the cures and catalysts. This past year as I’ve traveled, particularly the past eight months, the relationships with those ancients has deepened and become strikingly clear in many respects.
My world morphs and evolves at a pace that, were I not made for this, would create a blubbering idiot. I have no tradition but seamlessly (albeit, uncomfortably) move into the ways that I’m led to. I still find ritual and ceremony as confining as a tucked-in top sheet and feel the need to burst through the taboos that keep people separated from each other and spirit.
It has become just as confining to state who and how I am clearly. To do so means I need to use the language that best suits how I deliver our gifted nature. I’ve spent years now holding back on myself because I was afraid to be judged by others, my own ignorance and incapacity for saying it ‘right’. Frankly, now is the time to be judged. And to let my heart feel alive, to speak it’s whole capacity.
The only way I can adequately open myself to others with whom I am to connect is to change my tune, the language I use to explain this thing I am, and how this vessel relates to the world. It will help others understand the foundation of the work and ground the amorphous nature of thisness for me. And, more importantly, at least to me, that in changing how I define this work, this bringing Baraka into being, allows us, as a whole, to redefine the nature of things of spirit.
The closest, most accurate word to describe how we move through the world is to open myself to the label of shaman. It just so happens that those things of spirit I work with do not fit the definition that many people ascribe to.
First, this gifted nature is not connected to a singular tradition–aboriginal or not. It is influenced and guided by knowings and teachings that cross cultural, cosmological, continental, and linear ways of understanding. This very way of being challenges (and is meant to) the taboos of many of those cultures—the role of women, access to & definitions of the sacred, and longstanding, harm-causing myths. Part of this process is bringing the understanding that structures created long ago, often no longer serve humanity. The order created by what was known then, is no longer. New structures are needed as old systems crumble. The knowings and teachings that move from my heart are shared by those former breathing beings who have integrated within my body and those who remain outside it. They often counter the information left behind or systems developed in their lifetime. There remains a notion, even as we move through significant changes in other aspects of life, that spiritual teaching, mores, traditions, were meant to remain the same. They never were. Those in my world who inspired the existing structures did not cease learning when they ceased breathing. Their own breadth of awareness expands continually and they have over the course of time influenced changes within their communities.
It just so happens that some of those influences and aspects include the consciousnesses and company of Yoganadana and the man called Jesus, Mayan elders, Sufi wise men, Siouxan leaders, Cree singers, and those who inspired characters of Navajo & Hindu creation stories; the water, wind, ground, fire, and all the things those elements bridge.
The information we exchange comes in the form of modern maps, emotional signatures, and information sharing beyond the perception & imagination of most people. There is no ritual involved, no drums, no drugs, no trances to enter into an altered state. We merely speak and move as guided through a unified heart. In our experience, and what we seek to share with others, is the realization that one need not ‘leave’ via altered state to access spirit. We believe the time is now to show others that it is not only possible but necessary.
Those who work with and within me have given me permission to say who we are but, for the most part, I hold that close to my heart unless they are directly related to the people with whom I’m working or speaking. They are ones that were ignored before, labeled ascended now, honored or dishonored across time because even the stories we’ve created about them have never accurately reflected their hearts.
Some I share openly because when they were here before, they lived quite modern, public lives, and encourage me to expose myself in that way as well because our being effects a great number of people. Those whose identity I hold close outside of their immediate, former communities are eager to come home. However, because of long-held biases, it is often difficult to do.
And, so when I am integrated into communities, it is often done with some anonymity. This summer, I was compelled to go to a Sun Dance, knowing only a general location & a general timeframe. I was led there by an Old Missouria-Choctaw named James Eagle Feather and a string of Old ladies, who came in dreams and awake visions. They brought gifts for preparation and sent me to a couple of other old ladies who clarified the direction.
I went because, even though I didn’t know why exactly, it was necessary. Not merely to satisfy a curiosity but because an entire, specific community of Old Ones, believed my presence was required. What was I going to do? Say no?
On that same trip, as I hit the highway again, I went where led. Without a map this but a clear sense of direction, I didn’t take the shortest route to my destination. And, as I scooted through the top-end of Missouri, I watched a wall of storm clouds rise up in front of me like a universal ‘all-stop’ order and thought something along the lines of ‘where the hell did that come from?’. I was already exhausted and knowing that there was no storm actually generating anything other than a clear sign to get off the road, I pulled into the next Super 8, assuaged the guilt of perfectly good McDonalds fries with a perfectly awful McDonalds salad and slept until something woke me up.
That something was the nudge of an invisible human force field. I had no idea who she was or what it was about until I got up and found emergency services personnel milling about the lobby along with upset hotel staff. The energy who woke me up was a young lady who’d died while cleaning the hotel’s swimming pool toward the end of her shift. Once I had that understanding, I knew why that non-storm front had appeared and why I was nudged me awake at an otherwise uncivilized hour of the morning. This young lady was so concerned about the co-workers she’d unexpectedly left hanging she wanted me to go find them help. So on a springtime Sunday morning, in whatever small dot on the map it was, I started walking Main Street, trying to figure a way to make that so; how to approach people in a strange town, under stranger circumstances, to ask for even more odd assistance.
Thank god for the Long Island medium. She’s helped pave the way for some weirdness. After a second trip down Main Street, I walked into a diner, walked up to a waitress, and with the dead woman standing beside me, blithely told the story and asked if she could contact a minister who, instead of preaching on a Sunday morning, would consider bringing his congregation to the Super 8 to help staff do what needed to be in, even in grief. I stayed long enough to watch a restaurant manager call her minister who fired up the phone tree, then drove the next 1200 miles, leaving only two words behind: thank you.
Each integration, into community or into self, has been another initiation—whether I’m pulled into the ground, shot into the universe, shoved toward a Sun Dance, or merged with a brother from another mother. Each initiation pulls me past what I think I know into another unknown and I grow into the newness of it.
We have materialized and reincarnated individually, again and again. Sometimes heard, sometimes not. Sometimes welcomed, sometimes not. In each of those instances the communities with which we bonded grew a little more. This time, we’ve come back en mass, with individuated energies joining a singular physical expression whose voice can express that of multitudes. Again. We’ve come again because now is the time. Again. There’s never been a time we’ve not been here but this time, this way in which things are coming together—people—are coming together brings us back.
Our message has never been a stagnant one. It has moved and shifted as we’ve learned and expanded. The stories that that have grown from us, began from a single root grounded in community, connection to men, nature and the heavens, and have inspired traditions across the globe.
It is now time to re-inspire, to create new stories grounded in hope rather than fear, create in love and ingenuity ways that bring those healing, grace-filled things from the past into now, for future generations.