(This is another in my series of excerpted and updated Posts from my old, no longer active, blog A Glitch In Time. The original version of this appeared in September of 2013 and was called Confessions of a Shabby-Chic Shaman . When I started this current website and blog in tandem with the Etsy Shop and business, O Deer Mercantile, I decided to keep my Spiritual and Philosophical meanderings separate from the Business at Hand. However, it occurred to me at some point that I had classified this as a Lifestyle Blog, but in making the aforementioned decision, I was disregarding a huge chunk of what my life is truly about.
Early on the blog focused largely on the garden, crafting and homemaking pursuits. While all of these things are important to me, and a big part of my life— Life itself and the time constraints of trying to build up a business have left these pursuits secondary to the Shop which has become my major focus. Who I Am outside of and over all else though, is a Being on a Path of Seeking and sometimes discovery. While the mundane aspects of daily life are necessary and often overshadow most other pursuits, and though I have a passion for art, thrifting, vintage goods and the garden, my true Passion is somewhat larger.
I made a commitment many years ago to Follow the Path of Heart, to serve All-That-Is and this beautiful Planet we call home. I was called, and only one answer was possible. So, I have decided to share, when I have a bit of Time, my true Lifestyle, and some of the trials, tribulations and Joys that entails. )
Hurrying the Seasons
Yet another month is flying past me. Summer was fleeting—autumn arrived much sooner than seemed possible. That is calendar autumn though, and this is Florida. We don’t usually notice much in the way of weather change till mid-October or so. However, by later this week the morning temperature will probably be under seventy degrees when I first get up, and that is mighty fine. There seems, this past several years, to be a great deal of anticipation and excitement out there (meaning, what I see buzzing on the Web and Social Media) for Fall. Perhaps it is just the longing for cooler weather, or apples and pumpkins, but it seems to me, at least, to be a sort of Mass Nostalgia. It is as if the world, or the part of it I am privy to anyway, is collectively longing for those traditions, from Harvest to Halloween, that ushered a world that was into the dark advent of Winter. It may be that I feel this way because of my own thoughts and reflections, but it just seems very Pagan somehow, to me.
While I am quite capable of being nostalgic about the lovely weather and earthy colors that thoughts of autumn conjure, I really don’t know what the hurry is. Like the retail rush to fill their aisles with Halloween and Christmas, folks out there seem to be clamoring for Fall already in August. With time zipping along even faster this year than last, seemingly, I felt cheated of spring this year, and I had not nearly finished savoring the mellow days of summer as fully they should be. Still, Autumn is officially on us, and I will go with the flow.
In my own personal experiences, going back a number of years, though I am no longer certain of how many, the fall of the year has, often as not, been a sad and melancholy, at times despairing interlude. A paradox this, because I adore Halloween and Thanksgiving. While living in North Carolina, how could I not be enamored of the foliage as it turned into the colors of a candle flame— orange, gold, red and yellow? Autumn is the doorway to the death of the year though. We celebrate the harvest because we know that darkness, wind, snow and cold will all have their heyday before spring once more comes around to succor us.
And if you are a Shaman, or indeed a member or practitioner of almost any Earth religion or Pagan tradition, you know that Autumn is the time of the year when the solidity of the world comes into question, when the walls between realities thin, and beings and entities uninvited find their way into our world. By now, most people have heard the stories behind the traditions we still hold to at Samhain or All-Hallows-Eve.
Our forbears carved turnips or beets into the likenesses of demons and monsters, creating lanterns to ward off evil and protect the bearer from the darkness. Halloween costumes, a more recent custom, originally represented the pagan and Gothic characters the holiday derived from. That is the reason for the proliferation of ghosts, demons, witches and fairies on this holiday. While fire was very important to all of the quarterly and cross-quarterly celebrations of the Pagan year, it was essential at Samhain to ward off evil by keeping the darkness at bay.
Confessions of a Shabby-Chic Shaman
I have not felt that old, familiar sense of sadness to any great degree the last few years. Since moving from what was literally a backwoods cabin in North Carolina where Fall days were crisp and cool, and the nights very brisk, to warm and humid Florida I have been caught up in a cycle of events, of busyness that never seems to end. And yet, I feel that the culmination of all this is indeed the end of a much longer cycle. Having posted recently about my Empathic ability and the healing path that goes with it, I will say that moving from a remote area with scant population to where I am now has kept me all too often in a state of mild apprehension, and overwhelmed my nervous system. Luckily for me, I am fairly adept at blocking the constant rush of stimuli, but I am only recently beginning to sleep decently. (We are about a week now from the fifth anniversary of our return to Florida and I have suffered with insomnia through most of that period.)
I don’t know what this autumn will bring. So many changes have taken place this past five years, so much upheaval, and on my part, so much uncertainty as to my continuing purpose in life. I feel that strange anticipation that seems to be charging the very air as fall arrives, but I do not know precisely what it means. I will do my best to enjoy it, but I think that I will be on guard also. As a recovering shaman, I will be vigilant as those boundaries between our mundane world and those other spiritual dimensions thin, to protect if need be, and to cross over if the opportunity should present itself. It has been a long while since I was conscious of moving between the worlds, and it is another thing I have missed these past few years.
It seems strange to me now that I have thought so little about being a shaman, about the path I trod with complete dedication for numerous years, until just lately. It is as if I have barely existed for much of this last decade. When I look back, my memories are like a string of lights, illumination showing up here and there to guide my way, but sunk in darkness in between. It seems stranger to me still, that I should be writing about things that I have only seldom spoken of to anyone over the course of the last two decades. I certainly did not plan on it, but Spirit always has Its own way in my life, despite what I might think. Before anyone starts wringing their hands and muttering about Free Will, let me just say that having been recruited by Spirit a number of years ago, we have an agreement. I think of it as a binding contract. Therefore, it could be said that I waived my Free Will, of my own free will. I discovered early on in this adventure that I was inclined toward wilfulness (and stubbornness), which is a whole other thing from Free Will. I am not giving anyone else on a spiritual path advice. I am merely saying that for me, turning the wheel over to God was the right way to go.
As I was saying, I had not expected to write about this, but there you go. (Note: Having written about this on my blog in 2013, I more or less forgot for extended periods again until just the last year or so.) How does one become a Shaman in this day and age? Well, you can apparently take an online course, go to some exotic locale and be trained by a certified expert, or order a set of DVDs and learn from the comfort of your own home. I am not laughing at these things (well, I am, but I am trying not to). I read a lot of books, and if you are interested in shamanism or any other spiritual pursuit, I heartily recommend reading about and researching it. However, I was far into the process of becoming a shaman before I ever read the first book about shamanism. The internet was not such great shakes back in the days of my early spiritual explorations, and I, in fact, am one of those people who really did not jump right on to the technological bandwagon. I am still always behind when it comes to technology.
I have felt, from the time I was a child, a great spiritual yearning, a vacuum inside myself that I knew could only be filled from a much larger reality than the one I currently seemed to be inhabiting. Whether for good or bad, I was infected with a sense of destiny, and felt as though I was waiting. In the meantime, life went on and I did a lot of other things. I had to wait for quite awhile. It kept seeming as though I stumbled in the right direction rather than from any conscious intent on my part. I was a very unhappy, chronically depressed is the right description I suppose, person. (I also was not consciously aware of being an Empath, or able to effectively block the onslaught of emotional garbage I was constantly exposed to.) I desperately hoped that life had some purpose I could not then see, or that for me it would end. Finding and beginning meditation was a Godsend for me, as was an involvement in the metaphysical community. I finally found a bit of peace, and then a framework to contain so many of the experiences of my life that had me despairing for my own sanity.
So, I meditated, read books on every esoteric subject I could find, delved into psychology, philosophy, mythology and other tangential fields, took classes and workshops, and finally had a social circle where I felt accepted and at home. That fixed everything—right? On the contrary, it seemed to result in my whole world being ripped apart. My new lifestyle put the final weight on the back of a stumbling marriage, and caused ripples that went through and changed every one of my family relationships. I had always had Dreams and Visions, but now I found myself in the midst of a maelstrom of spiritual energy which was tearing away everything I had ever thought I knew about myself and my life. And I had asked for it, though I had not a clue what I was asking for when I did. Remember that old chestnut—be careful what you ask for—well, we are all warned.
I am glossing over all this. And that is the way it should be. My experiences on that path would fill a book, but it would be a book about my experience, and no one else’s would be quite the same. I asked for guidance. I asked for purpose and understanding. I got a seven year journey through the circles of Hell. That is the initiatory process a shaman goes through, in a nutshell. At the end of that, I got to endure pain and illness that in my own mind at least, took me through the gates of death and back. I burnt with fever and spent days in a visionary state I would be hard-pressed to describe, culminating in a vision in which my skin was peeled from my body and put back on inside out. Not a road for the squeamish. I came through that ultimate initiation feeling not quite solid, no longer part of anything. I was, and am, a Shaman.
What does that mean in the contemporary world? Should I have hung out a sign and waited for folks to line up for help? Might I have jumped on the New Age bandwagon and turned my years of learning and suffering into a few dollars to get by on? It does not, or should not, work that way. Because the folks who line up for help are not the ones who need your help, and because what they will get from you is not ever going to be what they wanted to begin with. As for making money at what I do—the pay really sucks. We do not live in a world that honors what it does not understand. I found out early on in this job that there was no reward other than that which I found in my own Heart while I walk in this world. To be a shaman is to be a doorway sometimes, a mirror at others. We, or at least I, work in the energy body, balancing and helping to remove those blockages and distortions which afflict everyone and result so often in illness and malaise. I teach and I heal, and most of the time the individual I am working with does not know that anything has been done. Folks tend to love me when I am doing this healing, and then to want me gone from them when it is finished. It is a natural reaction really, though it took some getting used to on my part. I am essentially part of them when this healing is occurring, and when it is through, I am a rather unsettling stranger. It is an unconscious fear of something they do not understand. In this business, friends are hard to make and even harder to keep. It is a lonely path.
In the past, and in some parts of the world where aboriginal peoples still live much as they once did, the shaman was honored. Still, they remained set apart, feared and respected, included but never integrated into the community. Would I want to go a different way if I could go back? No. I do not believe there was ever a choice to be made. I know that I was destined to be what I am. Do I recommend this path to others? I do not think that just anyone can become a shaman. You either are, or you aren’t. I do most heartily recommend following a spiritual yearning if you have one. Until you open yourself to things beyond the mundane world we live in, you will never know who you truly are.
I apologize for the rambling length of this post, and welcome comments and questions. Have a Happy Fall and keep a candle burning on All Hallows Eve!
Until next time…