Glossary and Other Interesting Things

or Random Thoughts by David

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"A cigar is just a cigar"

Sigmund Freud steered us down the path of seeing everything in a psychological light.     While psychology has its place and uses, not everything has psychological meaning.   Or, more accurately, perhaps the psychological meaning of a situation may not be the only or even the most important one to consider.   

I sometimes wonder if there is such a thing as a "pure accident", that is an event that has no deeper meaning other than what we perceive at face value.    The jury is still out on that one for me as I have had many experiences that have revealed layers and layers of deeper meaning over time.   

Africa

Every continent and culture has diverse and powerful forms of shamanic expression.   

Africa, like South America, has many indigenous peoples whose connection to shamanic consciousness is a potent part of their culture and daily life.   Malidoma Somé is an African shaman worth reading.   Africa, by the way, is that big land mass south of Spain.   

Akashic records

Everyone needs a library like this one.   Actually everyone has a library like this one.   It is believed by various spiritual groups that there is a library of universal knowledge in the Spirit realms.   This library is available to anyone one with proper training.   

I suspect that it is available to absolutely everyone via the gateway of dreams.   

Traveling via shamanic journey or dream work to this library is a wonderful experience.   There you will find help in researching answers to your life's most personal questions and issues.   

Robert Moss, shaman and author of several books on dream work, has several techniques for journeying into the dream realms and to the Akashic library.   "Dreamgates" and "Conscious Dreaming" are two of his excellent books.   Click here for Robert's web site.   

Altar

Altars can be simple or complex.   I have several in my house and journey space.   

The purpose of any altar is to honor the Divine and ones connection to it.   They also serve to center and ground spiritual energy in a place.   Sometimes I make altars in nature just by balancing a few rocks while holding a particular intention.   

"The Amazing Randi"

A stage magician who, it feels to me, has no Magic in his life.   He has made a name for himself, in addition to his stage magic skills, attempting to debunk psychic and spiritual phenomena.   It is true that there are fakes and scammers in the alternative reality crowd.   There are fakes and scammers in the scientific crowd.   One does not condemn all of science because of faked data.   The action of magical systems will rarely show up on scientific instruments, at least as we know them today.   It takes different means.   A good foundation for exploring this conflict (between Magic and Science) is Ken Wilber's book "Marriage of Sense and Soul".   Ken will likely be appalled that I am using his excellent and powerful exploration of the different modalities of knowing in support of the reality of Magic and alternate reality healing systems.   None the less, his far reaching and deep thinking has opened, for me, broader ways of looking at this issue.   

It will seem like I pick on The Amazing Randi and Martin Gardner a lot in my writings.   I am actually very glad that they do what they do.    Their lives lead me to inquire and question the authenticity of my own actions and where I might be fooling myself.   

They are just my icon of fundamentalist science types.   Fundamentalism (that glorious piece of circular reasoning which "proves" that your reality is the one and only "true" belief -- and "I will kill you if you disagree") in any form is challenging and often dangerous.   They, of course, would say the same about "true believers".   I am a Fortean by nature and am deeply engaged in learning the ways and skills of my personal experiences in life and High Weirdness.   

Here is his web site: http://www.randi.org/

Ancestors

Many shamanic cultures have ancient and elaborate rituals for honoring their ancestral sources.   In some of these cultures is the belief that disasters, plagues and mayhem will befall the tribe if proper ancestral rituals are not performed.   This feels dysfunctional to me.   Ancestors deserve honor and recognition as well as appreciation and thanking for their help.   However blasting the tribe for some ancestral OOPS sounds like "Spirit beings in need of deep and long-term family therapy" to me.   

Western culture, on the other hand, has gone to the other extreme.   We barely recognize or honor family beyond our great grandparents.   This frees us from rigid tradition but also cuts us off from our roots.   

It is now time to re-approach our relationship with our ancestors and develop meaningful and appropriate rituals for connecting with their energy and wisdom.   To this end I have been exploring a new shamanic technique that I am calling Ancestor Retrievals.    Like soul retrievals and power animal retrievals, the purpose is to bring home help and guidance from the Spirit realm in the form of healthy connections with our ancestral roots.   

No mayhem makers are welcome here.   

Annah

An amazing artist.   My amazing wife and partner.   

Click here to see Annah's Elementals.   

Click here to see Annah's fused glass art.   

Click here to contact Annah for custom work.   

Arabic

What a beautiful script.   It looks like art.   

Arabic seems to have a natural entry point into High Weirdness because every so often someone who reads Arabic will cut open a cabbage or a tomato and because of the organic shapes of Arabic words they will find a blemish or seed pattern that "forms" an Arabic word that says "Allah is Great" or "Death to Tomatoes" or something.   

And why not...   Spirit speaks to us in many ways all the time.   I hope no one of fundamentalist Islamic persuasion decides to call a fatwa on me for my Arabic tomato joke.   Fundamentalist anybodies are scary people.   They seem to forget that the Divine invented laughter.   Is Salman Rushdie still in hiding?

Ark of the Covenant

After Moses got the Ten Commandments, he needed a box to store them in.   He was given very specific instructions on how to build the Ark of the Covenant and how to handle it safely!

In the 20th Century some physicists decided to build a duplicate Ark, a FauxArk, based on the biblical description.   They discovered that it acted like a capacitor -- an electrical device that stores electricity.   Capacitors are made by separating electrical conducting material with insulating material.   The Ark is layers of gold separated by layers of wood: that is to say, conductors and insulators.   The Bible talks of special priests wearing sacred clothing being the only ones who were allowed to touch the Ark.   This FauxArk built up a tremendous electrical charge! No wonder the temple priests had to wear special sacred (i.e.   protective) clothing to keep from getting hurt.   

Sometime between the tenth and the sixth century BC this sacred object vanished from its special place in Solomon's Temple.   It vanished as though it had never existed at all, "without song or lamentation in the Scriptures".   

A British journalist, Graham Hancock, has popularized the view that the Ark of the Covenant was taken from ancient Jerusalem in the time of King Solomon.   His book, The Sign and the Seal: The Quest for the Lost Ark of the Covenant, suggests that King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba (Queen Makeda) had a son.   This union is not mentioned in the Biblical account of the meeting of these two monarchs (1 Kings 10).   However, it has long been a tradition in Ethiopia.   Menelik, the son, is said to have brought the Ark to his country for safe keeping.   This account is preserved in the Ethiopian chronicles.   

The famous Black Jews of Ethiopia, the Falashas, practice a very ancient form of Judaism.   They are thought to be the guardians of the Ark of the Covenant in the sacred Ethiopian city of Axum.   

Halie Salassie (1892-1975), the late King of Ethiopia, was part of the lineage spawned by King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.   Some people (primarily Rastafarians -- also check out Bob Marley's music) believe that Halie Salassie was the Messiah.   The Messiah is supposed to be from the lineage of King Solomon.   

Artist

I discovered in my early teens that when I closed my eyes I was watching a movie of amazing images.   I found that I could stop the movie when I saw an image that I liked.   And if I could get that image out through my hands, I would have a painting or a drawing.   It was not until my early 20's that I learned that not everyone does this.   I just assumed that it was something so common that no one mentioned it.   Sort of like breathing.   

After my shamanic initiation experience I realized that my internal artistic movie was a form of shamanic journey work but without a guiding intention.   I was journeying into the realms of Spirit as a tourist taking snapshots of the natives.   

I still do art.   Fine Art Prints are for sale.   

Click here to see pictures of my art

About 15 years after my artistic awakening I "awoke" to the fact that, in addition to the arts channel, I have a music channel and a "random CB voices" channel.   So, I also do music.   

Click here to learn more about my music.   

Artistic awakening

I had several artistic initiation experiences during some mind blowing years in my mid teens.   These were shamanic in nature but because I lacked any frame of reference my experiences and expressions of them were artistic.   

My first awakening happened when I was hitchhiking back to Wyoming from Virginia.   It was near midnight when I was dropped off at a well lit exit in Iowa? Ohio? Actually I have no clue where I was dropped off.   I was very inexperienced in the world and in the art of hitchhiking.   

A VW bug pulled up.   They were going down the road about 20 miles -- did I want a lift? Well in my naïveté I thought that every mile counts when hitchhiking.   Not thinking, obviously, that 20 miles down this freeway is Pitch Black Midnight.   

I get in and off we go, only to discover that in addition to the ride these gentle people are smoking hashish.   This was during a period in my life when I was working to get to know who I was, independent of drug input.   I really didn't want to get high (hitchhiking is challenging enough straight) but I didn't want to look like a "narc".   (I was an insecure teenager just out of high school, after all.)

The long and short of it was that it really does not take very much hashish, even faking big hits, to get very, very high.   

And now the VW has arrived at their turn off.   "Good-bye" "See you later" "Have a safe trip" "Thanks for the dope" Yikes.   

And there I am in the middle of some very flat state, in the middle of the night, did I say how amazingly DARK it was? I am so stoned that the freeway cars are leaving hundreds of afterimages as they blast by -- the "lags" as the vernacular of the time referred to this phenomena.   

So I propped myself up next to a barbed wire fence and settled in to wait for tomorrow.   

I closed my eyes and found myself, for the first time, really, really seeing and grokking the power and beauty of my internal movie.   I was standing in a breathtakingly beautiful fairyland of gumdrop and candy trees, sugar crystal roads and bridges, and a Pink and Blue Tiger doing a Michael Jackson dance just for me.   Then he turned and walked away.   As he walked, instead of leaving footprints, he left raised mounds like those decorative butter pats you get in fancy restaurants.   

It was indescribably amazing and beautiful.   I knew, in that moment, that if I had had a pencil I could have drawn that scene and would have become an instant artist.   

Except I didn't have a pencil and it was really DARK.   The next day the potency of the experience was still there, but the knowledge of how to draw had faded.   

My second artistic initiation experience was again induced via marijuana during a time when I was steering clear of drug use.   It is a very long story involving my time as a nude model for the art school, Valentine's day, the instructor's birthday, and the fact that the heat was off in the school and it was February in Wyoming and no way was I going to stand naked in a 40 degree classroom.   

So, we all abandoned that day of school and went to celebrate birthdays and Valentine's day and whatever else.   And, not wanting to look like a narc, I was smoking with some folks when one artist started in on his "rap" -- his views of reality and God and Cosmos, and... And ...  And ...   And WoW!!   I suddenly realized that I was listening to someone who was taking all the things that were always going on inside my head and sharing them in a coherent philosophy.  And I understood him! (Click here to see Stevon Lucero's amazing art.)

For the first time in my life I suddenly had a tribe that I could truly communicate with, have real conversations with, bounce ideas and concepts back and forth for the purpose of generating something brand new (or in true bad pun fashion "brand knew").   

In the course of this amazing realization I suddenly grokked, with every cell in my body, that nothing, absolutely nothing, is impossible.  This realization physically felt like my brain turned 90 degrees inside my head and I was seeing the universe from a completely altered perspective.   

Nothing is impossible.   Absolutely nothing.   I know that with every cell in my being.   I know, for example, that I can levitate.   I just haven't figured out how to do it, yet.   And I am not going to step off a 10 story building to test my latest theory.   I know that the only thing that stops us from anything is the belief that we can't do it.   Someday I will figure out how to levitate.   

So, the next day after this experience I am asking myself, "If I can do anything at all, what do I want to do?"  So I decide to be an Artist.   I am a self taught artist.    Butterfl-I was my third painting and my first airbrush painting.   Madonna of the Wood is my 5th, and Leda is my 6th.   

And all of these experiences has been the foundation for the bigger work that I am now doing.   

The following is a "Soapbox Moment" brought to you by the Committee for Real Thinking in the Face of Hysterical Governmental Agendas (CRTFHGA).   

Let me mention at this point that I totally honor the entheogen path to shamanic consciousness.   It is powerful and has been effectively used for thousands of years.   It is also one of many, many paths to self discovery / spiritual growth, many of which are safer though often slower.   

It is not my current path, and has not been for 20 years.   But it is a valid path, in spite of what our government has to say.   What makes it valid?  Because we are wired for it! It is part of our chemistry.   Entheogens work because we have brain receptors designed to receive the molecule and trigger the "alternate reality response".   There is even some research that suggests that our bodies actually manufacture DMT.   If this is true then we should all be arrested for possession and manufacture of a controlled substance.   

Also, this is not to say that I condone the current underground approach to this chemistry.   Too many people have been hurt.   Not because the entheogen is dangerous or bad but rather because the Western culture does not have the spiritual structures in place to guide people into and back out of the shamanic experiences that these chemicals will make available.   People get lost because they have no maps and no guides.   Some of us were very lucky in that we met friendly natives of the Spirit realm who kept us safe.   This is potent chemistry designed to connect us with the ultimate powers of the cosmos.

It is not a toy!

All of this begs the question as to why our governments are so invested in keeping us away from the kinds of spiritual awakenings that come from working with entheogens.   Food for thought.   (Be forewarned that it is also food for very emotionally charged debates.)

End of soapbox moment.   

Click here to see pictures of my art

Click here to learn more about my music

Astral projection

This is a powerful experience and shamanic tool.   It is the ability to step into your spirit body and travel and do work.   It is a very unique experience.   It is different from lucid dreaming.   Astral projection is not dream like.   It is an opaque experience.   You are consciously outside your body.   You can turn around and see your body sitting in the chair.   Once out you can travel to many astral planes which is what occult practitioners call the shamanic realms.   

Being in shamanic realms with this much conscious presence gives you enormous amounts of power to affect things and do healing work.   

It can also be frightening to be suddenly beside yourself.   Is this what death is like? Have I just died?

I have had a few astral projection or out of body (OOBE) experiences as they are called in the literature.   One of the signs that an OOBE is manifesting is a loud roaring sound in your head and a total body paralysis.   This started happening to me in my early teens.   Nobody had a clue about what it was, especially the doctors.   I would wake up early in the morning, start to drift back to sleep and then the roaring sound would build and I could not move.   The first time it happened I thought I was dying.   The roaring got more and more intense.   Finally, in an effort of sheer will power and panic I would force myself to twitch a finger.   This would break the spell and free my body.   If I didn't get up immediately I would fall back into the roaring and paralysis.   

This went on for several years.   Usually once or twice a month.   I wish that someone could have clued me into what was happening and trained me.   But alas, this was the mid 60's.   

Finally, after almost dying many times (or that's how it felt to me) I got really frustrated with living in fear of sleeping and the roaring paralysis.   I decided that I hadn't died yet so maybe I should just try to go with it and see what it was about.   Around this time someone introduced me to the literature of OOBE work.   I was wondering if my roaring paralysis was in fact Spirit's efforts at helping me to astral project.   

So, I started playing around with the roaring paralysis.   My most profound experience happened one evening as I was working to clear a sore throat by a meditation process (I tell you I have been doing shamanic work most of my life without knowing it.).   Suddenly the roaring paralysis grabbed me.   I kept myself calm.   I was sick enough that part of me was saying, "Well, if this is my death arriving at least I won't be sick.   "

The roaring built and built.   Soon it was just too intense so I decided that I would calm it down by just barely flipping my hand.   Not enough to break the roaring spell, just enough to regulate it.   

So, there I was, lying down with the roaring intensifying and flipping my hand when suddenly I realized that in spite of how absolutely REAL my sensation of flipping my hand was, I was not, in fact, moving my physical hand at all!

This completely freaked me out! I threw back the covers and leaped out of bed.   I was standing there facing my living room, cold and shaking trying to decide what to do next when SUDDENLY I realized that in spite of how absolutely REAL my sensation of having leaped out of bed was, I had not, in fact, moved from my prone position in the bed at all!

This completely freaked me out! I threw back the covers and leaped out of bed.   It took me several minutes of sheer terror to calm myself down enough to verify that I had, really and truly physically, leaped out of bed.   Either that or I am still in one of the world's longest OOBE's.   

And then I was really, really mad at myself.   I was out!! I had done it.   I had astral projected.   And I panicked.   

Since that time I have had other very minor experiences with OOBE.   I have not yet fully made it out again.   I am still working on it, especially now that I am shamanically trained and really understand the kind of healing that I could accomplish from inside that tool.   

There are several good books on the subject that will help you to to learn how to do this.   Robert Monroe is one of the best known authors.   He also has an institute where he trains people in his OOBE techniques -- assuming it is still running.   Robert Monroe died a few years ago.   

Avalon

A legendary island where King Arthur was taken when he was mortally wounded.   He was taken there by the fairy folk to be tended.   Legend has it that he is only sleeping and will return to save England when times are desperate.   

In some traditions Avalon is across the spirit border from Glastonbury.   One is the mirror of the other -- Avalon is in the spiritual realms and Glastonbury is in the physical realm.   

There is lots of magic associated with this place.   

A fun read is Mary Zimmer Bradley's "Mists of Avalon".   A very interesting reinterpretation of the King Arthur legend from Arthur's step sister's, Morgan le Fey's point of view.   

Axis Mundi

The Axis Mundi is the center of the cosmos.   It is the world axis around which everything revolves.   In shamanism it is often referred to as the World Tree.   The upper branches are in the Upper Worlds, the main trunk is in the Middle Worlds, and the roots are in the Lower Worlds.   The shaman use this tree to travel to the different realms.   

A magician's staff is considered to be an Axis Mundi.   When working with their staff, the staff does not "move"; the cosmos moves around the staff (it is all relative after all), creating a portal to parallel universes where the intention of the magician is already completed.   

Bad omen

Omens are tricky things to read.   One person's omen is another person's raven flying south.   

Context plays an important role in working with omens.   If you are deep in the inquiry of where to move to and just as you ask this question a raven flies south only to suddenly fall from the sky with a dart in its heart and the dart has a note written in Rongo rongo which, after tedious and impossible translation, reads, "Moving south is a bad idea!" -- well that is probably an omen.   And not a good one, especially for the raven.   

Usually omens are not so easy to read.   Yet, Spirit is communicating with us all the time.   Spirit speaks through that small voice that we are very good at ignoring; through coincidence and synchronicities; through dreams, meditation and other listening practices; and through random chance.   (See I Ching and Diviner's Harp)

How to correctly interpret that information from Spirit is one of the things we are tying to learn in this lifetime.   Spirit speaks to us in metaphor and poetry and beauty.   When confronted with an omen I always look for corroborating communications.   If the omen is important, good or bad, Spirit will tell you about it many, many ways.   

Opportunity and warnings knock multiple times if you are listening and paying attention.   

Bodhisattva

These guys (in the gender neutral use of this word) are really nice.   They could have left us all behind in the dust of the road to spiritual enlightenment.   Instead they think it is more fun to travel together so they return to help everyone else along the enlightenment path.   They are big on "win/win".   

Carlos Castenada

Castenada shook the 60's and 70's with his amazing magical/shamanic experiences with a Yaqui Indian magician named Don Juan.   His experiences were mind blowing and opened the door for several generations of path seeking mystics.   

Castenada's books were written as nonfiction and chronicle his struggles in trying to comprehend his experiences in non ordinary reality.   I found them frustrating to the max.   I remember shouting at the books, and at Carlos, to "stop being so incredibly dumb!" Frustrations aside, there is a lot of valuable and interesting information about magical shamanic systems contained in the stories.   

His books, experiences, and adventures became more and more outrageous until some university types became suspicious and through research, articles and books discredited the "reality" of Carlos' stories.   Is Don Juan "real" or is he a shamanic being that came from the Spirit realm to train Carlos.   Shamans are notorious tricksters and storytellers.   There are several instances of High Weirdness around Carlos that it seems likely that he was onto something real even if he used story telling to communicate it.   

As usual, true believers will believe everything and skeptics will not believe in any of it.   I suggest the Fortean attitude of open exploration.   As I said there is much to be learned in his books without becoming a Castanada Fundamentalist.   

Carpenter, Wyoming

A little town a few miles outside of Cheyenne, Wyoming.   This is where my father grew up on his family's farm.   His father came from Missouri to found a homestead in Wyoming.   Tough, tough farming in Wyoming.   

My father was the only member of his large family to get off the farm.   He became a professor in Range Management at the University of Wyoming.   I am grateful for this every day.   I love the land, I love Nature, and I am definitely not a farmer.   I do Urban Shamanism, remember!

Celtic

A beautiful and fierce people whose culture was destroyed by the Roman invasions.   It is tough to get an unbiased picture of the Celtic people because their history, traditions and knowledge were oral.   They were protected and transmitted by the Druids, Bards and Ovates.   These folks were slaughtered by the Romans.   

Much of what we know about them was written by Christian monks, who were biased in favor of the Romans.   History, after all, belongs to the victors.   

A wonderful poetic introduction to this culture is Robin Williamson's "Five Denials on Merlin's Grave" from his "A Glint At The Kindling" album.   

Celtic Shamanism

Early Christianity drove the Celtic spirituality deep underground.   The Romans slaughtered most of the Druids and wiped out an entire culture's spirituality, identity and history.   This is as great a loss to the world today as is the burning of the library at Alexandria in 48 B.C.   

It is my belief that there are still people in Ireland, Wales, Scotland, England, etc.   who are practicing an unbroken lineage of Celtic Shamanism but to my knowledge it is still deeply hidden.   Consequently everything that is known and practiced today under the guise of Celtic Shamanism is recovered.   This has been done through anthropological and literary research as well as through shamanic journey work.   

Centering

Being in a inner place of peace where you are in your power, present to the world and the situation at hand, and in contact with the Divine.   Meditation is a common way of centering.   Some people do this by working with a pottery wheel.   Others dance their way to their center.   I balance rocks.   

Centers of gravity

Every object has a place of balance.   Balance, in the physical sense, happens when the center of gravity of an object aligns with the center of the Earth.   

When I am balancing rocks I am aligning my psychic center with the rock's center of gravity.   When the balance happens I am linked to the very center of our planet.   This is very cool!

Chakras

A system of energy centers that mystics and other adepts can see and work with.   In the Eastern systems there are 7 Chakras associated with the body.   They appear as spinning wheels of color.   

Root -- at the base of the spine.   This is connected to being grounded in the world and survival.   Color = Red

Generative -- just below the navel and associated with sexuality and creativity.   Color = Orange

Solar Plexus -- just above the navel and associated with personal power.   Color = Yellow

Heart -- center of the chest next to the heart.   Love, naturally.   Color = Green

Throat -- in the throat and connected to communication.   Color = Blue

Third eye -- in the middle of the forehead or in the center of the brain at the pineal gland.   This is about transcendent vision and visions, psychic insight, intuition.   Color = Purple 

<<There is an interesting fact-oid about the pineal gland.  It is formed from the same embryonic tissue that forms our eyes!  So there is a curious truth regarding the link between the third eye and the pineal gland.  Of course, the real question is, "What exactly does it mean that we have an "eye" buried deep in the center of our brains?" -- the center that is also the master control of our body's hormone chemistry.  It is an 'eye' that is renowned for its connection to psychic/metaphysical sight/insight/intuition.>>

Crown -- at the top of the head.   This is your gate way to enlightenment.   Color = Violet.   

A well balanced mystic has all of these centers tuned and roaring with energy.   

In Andean mysticism they also have a Chakra system.   However, they refer to them as "eyes".   Their number and placement are slightly different.   

The interesting thing is that these energy spots show up in different mystical systems independently of each other.   

There are many ways to work with Chakras for healing and empowerment.   

A google.com search on Chakras will turn up a zillion references to deepen your knowledge.   

Chinese

This ancient culture has a deep mystical tradition.   Their world view is real different from the Western world view.   This, I suppose, can be said about any culture different from your own.   Their written language is a work of art, literally, because it is pictogram based.   

I tried to learn Chinese once.   This was before I thought rocks were trying to communicate with me in Chinese.   I learned that "tree" is one character that vaguely looks like a tree and that a forest is several of these tree characters together.   

Then my teacher tried to get me to hear the difference in four completely different words.   She said something like, "Knee, knee, knee, and knee.   Do you hear the difference?"

I didn't.   Thus ended my linguistics career.   

Chocolate malt

In a blender place:

1 and 1/2 cups whole milk

1/2 cup Half and half cream

3 scoops of ice cream (Vanilla or Chocolate)

4 Tablespoons of chocolate syrup

3 Tablespoons of malted milk powder

1 teaspoon vanilla

Blend, serve in a tall glass and slurp through a straw.   

Serves two (or one pig).   

Yum!

Christian Science

A mystical healing system that was from an illuminated moment in Mary Baker Eddy's life.   Among other things, it is belief in the healing power of prayer.   

Conscious Intent

All shamanic work (in fact all Spiritually, energetically, or magically based work) works because of the intention of the practitioner.   Most people have experienced the shamanic truth that, "what you sow so shall you reap" -- what energy you put into something determines what you will get back out.  Conscious intent is the purposeful crafting and guiding of what energy, dreams, desires, hopes, etc. gets "built" into something -- be that a project, relationship, talisman, wedding ring... 

Certainly in the case of talismans or jewelry you want to be certain that whomever is making it is having a good day and not impregnating your talisman (or ring or pendant) with their bad mood (or worse).

Core shamanism

One of the really important contributions by Michael Harner and others to modern shamanic healing practices was the identification of core shamanic principles.   

There are techniques, descriptions, rituals and "geography" that show up across many different shamanic peoples and across eons of time.   These core elements belong to the human race.   Each culture has its own overlay of style that belongs to those specific people.   For example the Lakota Sioux's interpretations of the shamanic tools belong to the Lakota Sioux.   

Core shamanism allows everyone access to shamanic space without raiding some other culture's spirituality.   It is important to respect these boundaries.   While you might be deeply attracted to Native American shamanism, or some other culture's shamanism, unless you are a card carrying genetic member of their race, or unless you are specifically invited by an elder of that group, then you have no business utilizing their rituals.   And frankly when you are being guided by Spirit you do not need to raid other peoples rituals.   Spirit will guide you to do the exact perfect thing.   

Corn meal

A really wonderful tradition that many shamanic peoples have is to invite Spirit to dinner.   Feeding Spirit corn meal or tobacco or a piece of your banana cream pie is a great way to honor and connect with Spirit.   Sometimes I make a meal and set a place for Spirit.   

When I do soul retrievals one of my requirements (requirement #5, I have six of them) is that the person bake a cake from scratch and bring it to the soul retrieval.   I do this for several reasons:

1.   These soul parts have been gone a long time and I think they deserve a welcome home party.   Cake is my icon of "party".   

2.   The cake is from made from scratch because the cosmos is simply energy and the exchange of energy.   The effort is your gift of energy to Spirit in thanks for helping the recovery of your soul parts.   

At the celebration part of the soul retrieval the very first piece of cake and cup of tea is for Spirit.   After Spirit has had its fill, usually the next day, I take this celebration food out and give it to the neighborhood spirits.   Everyone is happy.   

Cottonwood tree

As near as I can tell Wyoming has 3 kinds of trees.   

Pine trees, (i.e.   any of many different kinds of trees that have evergreen needles).   

Caragana bushes.   Technically not a tree but in Wyoming you take what you can get.   (Caragana is not my favorite tree, by the way.   They have thorns, get a zillion aphids, smell weird, and produce needle sharp seed pods that are designed to seek and locate the bare feet of children from 50 feet away)

And Cottonwood.   I do not know of any cottonwood lore and medicine.   I climbed several as a kid.   They get a zillion aphids but have none of the other Caragana drawbacks.   In the Spring they produce seeds that float through the air on balls of "cotton".   It looks like snow.   They live in a special place in my childhood heart and now I have lightning experiences with them as well.   

If you know of Cottonwood lore I would love to hear about your knowledge.   Please e-mail me.   

Crisis experience

In many shamanic traditions the shaman is often identified to him or herself and the tribe in the form of a crisis experience.   A near fatal accident, serious long-term illness of unexplained origin may be callings from Spirit into the shamanic realms.   It has also been suggested by John Weir Perry, Stanislav Grof and others that the experiences of schizophrenics may in fact constitute a calling to shamanic training and initiation.   

Typically shamans are called to the work by Spirit.   It is not a chosen profession.   

Many cultures are shamanist.   This means that everyone in the tribe knows how to make a shamanic connection with Spirit.   They do this as part of their daily spirituality.   The ones who are really good at it are the tribe's shaman.   

Crystal ball

One of several methods of scrying -- the art of looking into the past, the future, or alternate universes.   Part of the purpose of such tools is to give the mind a place to hold its focus and intention.   Black mirrors, pools of water, tea leaves, etc.   are examples of other such tools.   I also suspect that the crystal aspect of a crystal ball may lend a hand in the work.   After all, crystals control the flow of energy through their structure.   This is measurable in terms of electricity.   It seems reasonable to me that other energies, too subtle for science yet to measure, may be directed by the crystal lattice as well.   

Ever since I built the Diviner's Harp I have been receiving additional guidance for building other shamanic tools.   I am in the middle of designing a new scrying tool.   It combines a crystal ball, black mirror, bowl of water, laser light traveling in circles around the bowl (to warp space time), and shamanic visioning.   

Assuming I don't get sucked in some parallel universe when I plug this thing in, I will let you know how it works.   

I do have to admit to a certain amount of ambivalence about seeing future events.   What does one do with a glimpse of the future? And if you do something to change the future, how do you know that what you saw was real since it now isn't happening the way you saw it.   It all bends my mind.   

Crystal skull

This is a great piece of Forteana.   In the late 1920's an Indian Jones style adventurer, F.A.  Mitchell-Hedges found, at Lubaantum, a ancient Mayan city in the (then) British Honduras, an eleven pound carved quartz crystal.   It was carved to be a human skull complete with a moving lower jaw.   Mitchell-Hedges was something of a story teller and the true origins of this beautiful object will likely never be known.   His adopted daughter, Anna, who has had the skull for years, claimed that she was the one who found it while exploring in the ruins.   I am uncertain who has the skull today.   

It has been tested and examined and reports written about it.  The most unique thing about it is, aside from all the weird bumps-in-the-night and magical experiences that people have had around it, that there seems to be no tool marks on it.   It is very finely crafted and quite anatomically accurate.   

There is, naturally, a web site devoted to the many different crystal skulls.   To see what they have about the Mitchell-Hedges skull click here.   

It's a weird world out there.   

 

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