Tell a friend

Anonymous ContributorIn the Mountains of Colorado

The following account was sent to me. I pass it on to you! Steve Serr, Shamanism 101

“…it was around the winter solstice. I had mentioned to you I was going to hold a fire ceremony in the mountains during the eclipse and I did that. At 10,000 feet (of elevation) on winter solstice in Colorado the elements can be bitterly adverse. I had set my intent and was prepared for whatever the night would have to offer.”

This sounds like the beginning of a toasty campfire story, does it not? One could imagine a circle of eager, glistening faces gathered around a fire, warming hands and hearts beneath the stars with a band of kindred souls, anticipating the next words of a tale that was to unfold. These, however, are the first words of a personal, and profound account sent to me by one of my students, who had headed off alone into the wilds of Colorado’s wilderness areas, to prepare himself for the personal work that was to come in his new path of shamanic training.

This account takes place among the Colorado peaks amidst the darkest, bitter core of winter in December of 2010. We begin this story as this man, alone, reaches one of his favorite corners of wilderness, the destination at which his transformative experience was to unfold.

“I was very pleasantly surprised when I arrived at one of the places I frequent to find only six inches of snow on the ground. Typically it would be four feet at this time of the season. The wind, however, was blowing fiercely. I cleared the snow and built the fire.”

This situation is almost metaphorical and perhaps mythic in structure. In the concrete world of geographical space, a man goes alone into the wilderness to ‘clear snow’ and ‘build fire’. This is shamanism, where the multifold layers of reality between a practitioner and his or her world coexist and intermingle. One might just as well say that this man was clearing the snow from his past and lighting a fire in his heart, for in shamanic work, they can be one and the same.

His night for this experience, chosen among all others, was that of December 21st to the 22nd at the end of 2010, when the Earth would pass through its seasonally darkest time, and yet at a unique moment when the moon that lights our night sky would also pass into a full eclipse behind the complete shadow of the Earth. The Earth could hardly be darker, and one could hardly conceive of a more appropriate setting to tend to the fires in the heart, feed it with the wounds and any regrets or bitterness of the past, and open up, fresh and newly formed, to what is to come. He continues:

“I called the directions and opened sacred space, then proceeded to feed the fire for the next five hours, and I burned it strong.

There was so much that happened that night I could probably turn it into a book. But it was like all the spiritual doors there, were opened to me. I danced my soul and I sang my soul and I don\'t know how many times I was overwhelmed by tears of joy.

Nearing the end of the eclipse, but (the darkness) was still full, there were two spirit helpers that showed themselves to me. One from the lower world and one from the upper world. Knowing I was to begin working with you, I thanked them and asked them to wait for me until the time was proper for me to engage with them...”

Dancing beneath the eclipsed dark of the moon around a roaring fire, completely removed from civilization, breaking into tears of release and utter joy, letting go of what no longer served him and opening to the spirits who were to accompany him in his next life phase, this man allowed himself to dance into a self-directed initiation. This is the kind of experience that one finds honored in religious texts throughout the world, and is probably more of a reflection of the character and dedication of the person on the spiritual path, than anything having to do with any particular path itself. Experiences like these can impact a person until the end of their days.