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I have been a shamanic practitioner and a shamanic guide for others for 15 years. I have had numerous experiences with nature and its impact on the human condition. We must always remember that as a member of the human kingdom, we are made from the attributes of the 3 lower kingdoms….. mineral, plant, & animal. It is no wonder that our reflection can be found in all of nature and with our eyes wide open we can find our healing. I have seen some of the most wonderful healings take place with people who suffer from depression, addiction, fear and
self-esteem. If we approach Mother Nature and our own healing with the reverence it deserves, we will find it.
I have had teachers who have been shamans whether they called themselves that or not. The most
influential was a Navajo (Dine) medicine man, a hand trembler and singer from the Gallup area of New Mexico. He was very traditional in his medicine ways and served his reservation as a medicine man for many years. Being a Caucasian woman, his approach with me was more ‘shamanic” than traditional Dine. His understanding of natural law and the mind-body connection was fascinating considering he was “uneducated” by western society. What this shaman taught me is the important and necessary connection between ceremony and practices. One without the other is a dis-connect from the laws of the universe. The practices bring the grounding and centering. The ceremony brings the reverence for the possibility of divine intervention.
The case which brought the most shamanic impact to both my self and my client came to me a few years ago with a group of people who came to see me. They had come from the United Kingdom to New Mexico, USA for a 4 day retreat which included Medicine Walks in the high desert of Taos, NM, shamanic practices, and ceremony. Each person came with a particular issue that needed clarity.
A young lady, Sue, is the client I will focus on. She was in her 20’s with a high pressure modeling job. She spent too much time away from home which made her feel rootless. Weight and eating issues were appearing and she had a propensity for pot smoking. The young lady was ready for a change but found it very difficult. We decided to start with the pot smoking as she & I both agreed it was masking all the other issues. Rather than having me choose the location for the medicine walk, I asked Sue to journey with the help of an ally to find a physical place where we would go on her Medicine Walk. She was to remember what it looked like and if the ally would help her find some clarity on her issue. When she returned from her journey, she described the place as very rocky and there was a river. Her ally was a large raven who took her to this place. Sue said she road on his back and viewed the area from above. She felt confident that this was her medicine place and the Raven was her guide.
The next day I took her to the Rio Grande Gorge which is the home to the Rio Grande River. The gorge was filled with
giant ancient volcanic rocks and the river was below. We put done a small altar and gave offerings to the spirits of the land. I always use an altar as an anchor for my client and myself. We start here and we end here. Sue was smudged and then she was to leave me and the altar and start her Medicine Walk. She had as much time as she needed to walk and observe and listen to the voice within and the guides without that she may encounter along the way. She had made a prayer at the altar asking that she find some understanding for her pot addiction and how to quit. She felt urgency
that she had never felt before….like this was a make it or break it opportunity. What Sue came back with was the ‘impact” that would change her life and mine! This was her experience upon returning to the altar 4 hours later.
Sue walked down the mesa path through the large sage bushes ‘scanning” as I had taught her. She was very nervous as she was not an outdoorsy girl and this terrain was very foreign to her, even treacherous in many ways. She started to cry and said she felt hopeless. Sue remembered the raven in her journey and called out to her ally, asking for help. Within minutes she saw a lone raven circling above her. She said she could not believe it even though ravens are common in New Mexico. As she walked down the path, the raven continued to circle her from above. She then decided that she wanted to follow the raven instead of the raven following her so she sat down on the path. The raven circled and then veered off to the right heading for an area filled with giant volcanic rock and a view of the river. He landed on one of the rocks. Sue followed him down the slope, climbing the giant rock people. Raven was above watching her. Sue found an area that she felt drawn to and sat down to view the river and watch the raven. She said she no longer felt alone, but instead hopeful that some answers would come to her. She laid down on the rock to journey, but as she did so, something caught her eye. It was a little metal tin can that was lodged between two large rocks. It was out of her reach and she decided to go back to her journey. She laid on her back and looked up to the big blue New Mexico sky and her ally. Raven squawked at her fiercely flapping his wings like a parent reprimanding a child. She closed her eyes and tried to journey again but that seemed to make Raven even more distraught. So Sue sat up and said” OK Raven!! Maybe the answer is right here before my very eyes.” She then had a chill go though her and she new it was the tin can. She had to get it and open it up. So for 1 hour she tried everything she could think of to get that tin can. Her need became stronger and stronger she said” like my desire for pot….when I really need it I will go anywhere and do anything to get some.” Sue said she was even doing some dangerous moves to get to that tin. With the help of a stick she was able to knock the tin out of the crevice and it fell a few feet farther down the rock pile. She strattled two rocks and finally got the tin between her fingertips. Slowly she was able to get herself back to an upright position. Her first thought was her obsession over this little tin can. It looked very old and rusted. It was an old mint container like the ones you can buy at the grocery store check out stand.” I did all this for a silly can?” Sue looked up to see if Raven was still there. She had been so obsessed with the retrieval of her tin that she had forgotten about Raven. He was gone! She started to doubt herself and felt that she had wasted all her time with that silly mint can. And she could not even open it because it was so rusted. The old pattern of doubting herself came back and fear of failure. This was the moment in this pattern when Sue wished she had some pot, her escape from her emotions. She decided to quit this medicine walk and come back to me. She climbed back out of the rocky area onto the mesa and found her path back to the altar. When Sue arrived she sat down with me by the altar and said,” This was a waste of time, mine and yours….this great raven came to me and I followed him to this rocky area just like in my journey yesterday, but then I got all caught up in trying to get this stupid tin can out from some rocks I was sitting on.” Sue pulled the tin out from her pocket and handed it to me. I said,” Sue, did you open it?” “No….. it won’t open, it is rusted shut.” She continued to berate herself as she told me what had transpired on her medicine walk. I could no longer hold a straight face and began to laugh…as I had seen this before. I asked her, “Why do you think that the Medicine Walk is over?” She really looked stunned.” Because, I got nothing!” I looked down at the tin which was sitting on the altar. I said,” Really? This tin is nothing? You risked injury to get it and you still doubt your intuition and the process of the journey? Are you ready to open Pandora’s Box? Everything you experienced today was part of your answer, but the clarity lies inside this tin. I think you will know it when you see it. I don’t know what is in this tin, maybe nothing, but then, THAT would be the answer you seek.”
I got out my knife and gave it to Sue,”Open…says me!!!” Sue prided open the top of the can.
Sue gasped and dropped the tin. What rolled out was what changed my view of shamanic practices forever. Old marijuana buds…yes, pot!! Neither of us could speak. It was beyond bizarre into the world of impossible and improbable. The chances of this happening would be one in a million, but under shamanic practice and guidance the odds drastically switched.
We discussed the unbelievable find of marijuana, the very symbol of her whole trip to America and all its meanings for her.
That night we did a sweat lodge for Sue where her emotions poured out of her. She was no longer living her authentic self as a model. It was killing her, literally. She told us about her life as a model and the many risks she was expected to take such as little sleep, diet pills, uppers, downers, alcohol, sex with agents or no job, no food, stay skinny, travel 20 hours and hit the runway 1 hour later. It was not glamorous, it was hell. We discussed the invisible energy cords that ran from her to her addiction. So much so, that she could travel thousands of miles, from one continent to another, sit on a rock in the desert and still attract marihuana to her …..but really to find her release and a new understanding of her life. Sue saw she no longer had control of her own life. She had given it over to so many other people and substances to maintain a life that was killing her. She was able to trace her lack of self esteem and hopelessness to choices she had made in life and understood that it was again time to make choices that were more appropriate for where she was now. The concept of “I am the victim here” had to go. She was able to see that the victim role was keeping her stuck and that she had to be the hero and the director of her own life. Her life had been a choice, not a lifelong sentence.
Sue spent the following day at the altar giving offerings to Raven, the rocks, and developing a healthier and more productive reverence for marihuana. She did some more journeying and then we did a final release ceremony at the river with the tin of pot. She had opened Pandora’s Box and saw all the evils and illnesses of life she had succumbed to. But, just as in the story of Pandora’s Box, she found hope. Sue found her authentic self emerging and the strength to heal her self. I stayed in touch with Sue for a couple of years. She went back to London and within those 2 years she broke ties with her old boyfriend, got married to another, moved to South Africa, had a baby and left modeling. She was happy and became the heroine of her own life.
I learned as a shamanic practitioner and guide that there are truly no accidents. Receiving guidance from the ordinary and nonordinary world require working with The Laws of the Universe. It is not hocus pocus. Although my teacher would not refer to the Law of Cause and Effect, because he had not heard of it put that way, he was a believer that we are responsible for everything that happens in our life. Every moment is a choice and we can right the wrongs and create a balance in our life once again.
About the author:
Wendy Whiteman has been a shamanic practitioner, guide and author for 20
years. She has written two best sellers
under the name Silver Wolf Walks Alone
entitled, Sacred Sage How it Heals and Sacred Sage Spirit Medicine. Wendy lives
and practices on the desert mesa of Taos, NM.