Posts Tagged ‘Spirit Walking’

Creating meaning in conscious connection

July 24, 2016

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It is a scientific truth that we are inexorably connected to the entirety of life on Earth. For instance, every human alive today is a descendant of one particular woman who lived in Africa about 200,000 years ago. She wasn’t the only woman living at that time, but only her line continued. We know this because the mitochondrial DNA in our cells has its origin with her.
On a broader scale, we are related to every creature with a backbone. We are related to creatures as diverse as snakes, fish, elephants and polar bears. If we stretch further back in time, we share a common ancestor with sea urchins and starfish. Inside of our bodies, our own cells are outnumbered by a myriad of other beings. Bacteria, viruses, yeasts and naturally occurring microscopic parasites are a part of our internal ecosystem. And the mitochondrial DNA we inherited from our many times great-grandmother is housed in an organelle that was originally a bacteria living 3.5 billion years ago in the primordial sea.
Despite all this remarkable connectivity, our senses continually spin the illusion that we are separate and alone in the universe. Living with that misperception, we have done great harm to each other, other species and to the planet as a whole.
It is only when we expand our awareness that we can perceive how well we are held in the embrace of life. In shamanic journeys, visions and entheogenic voyages we can see hear and feel the threads that weave everything together. These experiences change our perceptions of our place in the Cosmos. Yet, even this extraordinary shift of perception only provides us with knowledge. Creating meaning comes from transforming knowledge into wisdom.
For me, meaning evolves from taking my understanding of connectedness and choosing to allow it influence how I move through my daily existence. When I choose to make my connections more conscious and more thoughtful, I have visceral experiences of the way all beings are connected and I recognize that how I am in the world affects the whole. This provides me with a rich overlay for my everyday interactions with people, animals, the birds at my feeder and the trees that shade my walk. With this richness comes the awareness that our connections are actually relationships that can be fostered through being evermore aware and respectful.
When we choose to be in reverent participatory relationship, we not only benefit the beings around us but also contribute to our own wellbeing. Human beings are wired for connection. We are social primates who are nurtured and sustained through relationship. Interconnection is as important to our mental and emotional health as water and food are to our body. When we treat our relationships with others as nourishment, we can more easily recognize the preciousness of them. We cannot survive without the air the trees create or the waters that flow from rain. In the same fashion, we cannot live well without the laughter of a friend or the touch of a loved one. All of the threads that hold us are necessary and worthy of our gratitude.
And it is in being grateful that we fill with a sense of meaning beyond words.

©2016 Evelyn C. Rysdyk

(This post was originally written for Excellence Reporter)

5 books Evie SIllhoutteEvelyn C. Rysdyk is the author of several noted books on shamanism including, The Norse Shaman, Spirit Walking: A Course In Shamanic Power and A Spirit Walker’s Guide to Shamanic Tools. Along with her writings, Evelyn is an impassioned shamanic teacher. She was featured on The Shift Network’s, 2016 Global Shamanism Summit, and is a presenter for the innovative, international program, A Year Of Ceremony.

Whether through face-to-face contact with individual patients, workshop groups and conference participants, or through the printed word–Evelyn uses her loving humor and passion to open people’s hearts and inspire them to live more joyful, fulfilling and purposeful lives. Her website is www.evelynrysdyk.com

Sharing the gifts of shamanic spirituality.

December 29, 2014

Psychedelic AiChureck JourneyingSMALLA shaman is someone who intentionally traverses the boundary of physical reality. This intentional journey between the realms of the ordinary and non-ordinary realms is what defines a shaman and is the source of strength, power and ability to solve personal and community problems. The process itself also changes your brain to improve memory, enhance creativity, boost the ability to synthesize information and problem solve, heighten intuition and lower stress. In other words, it improves your wellbeing emotionally, mentally, and physically.

Journeying assists you to better interact with the numinous beings that enliven nature. While spirits are nearly impossible to see or hear with your ordinary senses a person who is trained to expand consciousness at will is able to interact with these beings easily by moving beyond their ordinary way of perceiving the world.

Having the ability to gain a deeper perspective and get the guidance and support from spirit allies changed my life in many ways. It healed my depression, helped me to find my true calling, turbo-boosted my creativity and even led me to my beloved. Through my journey experiences into the parallel realms of consciousness/spirit, I developed relationships with the beings of nature, protective power animals and my ancestors. With their steady and loving guidance, I was much more able to move through my life with more wisdom, clarity and joy.

It is for these reasons and so many more that I am grateful to be able share the incredible worlds of the shaman with you. It is why I write my books and also why I teach advanced trainings.

In my Spirit Passages Two-year Initiatory Apprenticeship in Advanced Shamanism, I am able to guide you and assist you in perfecting your abilities to connect deeply with the beings in higher realms who are eager to help you live a richer and more fulfilling life. Through this program, you can be more resilient, more effective and open up beautiful new possibilities for your life.

In addition, the program will give you the tools to be able to assist other people, animals and even land that have become spiritually ill. All of the classic methods shamans use for healing others will be covered in the program. You will also have opportunities to experience initiatory ceremonies that will strengthen your trust in yourself and the loving support of the spirits.

I am truly excited to provide you with the spiritual tools to help you live a truly empowered life and to be a positive influence in the world. As you change, you will create ripples through out the web of life. As each of us makes our own shifts, we exponentially increase our ability to heal ourselves and our planet. Now more than ever before, we need to have people like you who are ready to heed the call of their own souls.

Are you ready to shrug off your small self to become the powerful being you were meant to be?

Blessings to you, Evelyn

© 2015 Evelyn C. Rysdyk

Nationally recognized shaman teacher/healer, speaker, and author of Spirit Walking a Course in Shamanic Power,A Spirit Walker’s Guide to Shamanic Tools, Modern Shamanic Living: New Explorations of an Ancient Path, and contributor to Spirited Medicine: Shamanism in Contemporary Healthcare; Evelyn C. Rysdyk delights in supporting people to remember their sacred place in All That Is. Whether through face-to-face contact with individual patients, workshop groups and conference participants, or through the printed word–Evelyn uses her loving humor and passion to open people’s hearts and inspire them to live more joyful, fulfilling and purposeful lives. Her web site is http://www.evelynrysdyk.com.

 

 

A shamanic reflection on Jesus’ message for the New Year.

December 31, 2013

Jesus

Abraham is considered the father of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. He was a pious man who had his faith tested on many occasions. Perhaps his largest test was when Abraham was asked by God to sacrifice his beloved only son, Isaac. In Genesis 22, obedient Abraham takes Isaac to the place of sacrifice. He prepares the fire and binds his son. Just as he is about to take the life of Isaac, God stops Abraham as his actions have proven the depth of his belief and commitment.

During the dawning of the first century AD, the peoples of the Middle East would have been intimately familiar with this story of Abraham. Into this context, Jesus comes into the world as “God’s only begotten son.” This is a peculiar designation as it is said in Genesis that God created all human beings in His image.

As Jesus grew to adulthood and began his teachings, his behavior was loving toward others. He cared for those in need with healing and fed those without food. He associated with the poor, the sick, those who were lame, the mentally ill and also with those who were considered to have broken prevailing cultural norms. In other words, he was able to see everyone as sacred. These ideas flew in the face of the hierarchical social ideals that were promoted by both Roman culture and the Pharisees.

In both cases, enforcing strict dogma and adhering to the letter of the law was perceived as paramount, as this promoted both social order and obedience to the hierarchy. Supporting the organizational structure was more important than the needs of individuals and superseded acts of compassion, which may have been in conflict with their rigid interpretations of “right and wrong.” It is easy to see why Jesus and his teachings became a source of worry for the existing hierarchy.

When working with his disciples, Jesus charged them to go out and heal others as he had. This was to be done by asking the Divine In All Things–the Holy Spirit–to work through them. In his later teachings, he even suggested that, through the strength of their faith, the disciples could perform even greater miracles than he achieved during his lifetime. Jesus preached that we all could do what he did and more.

Fast forward to the capture, punishment and crucifixion of Jesus. As he suffered along side other prisoners, why didn’t God intervene? Perhaps it was because this sacrifice was meant to be interrupted by human beings! Maybe the entire point of Jesus’ role as the sacrificial “Lamb of God” was to get us to awaken to our own divine nature. If people really understood his message of love, they would have intervened on his behalf on several occasions–during the time he was in front of Pilate, during his journey to Cavalry and finally at the point he was being crucified.

Perhaps Jesus was, in the language of his time, trying to get us to see ourselves as aspects of the Divine who are no more or less important than any other. Through his actions, he suggested that we could choose to be loving, to be more egalitarian and inclusive, and more able to perceive the preciousness of all creatures on our planet.

He asked us to access the divine directly through prayer, fasting and through communication with Nature so that we could see things differently. Maybe the ultimate core of his message was for us to perceive the luminous threads that connect us to everything and everyone in creation. And in so doing to manifest our highest nature to generate healing and harmony around us.

 © 2014 Evelyn C. Rysdyk

Nationally recognized shaman teacher/healer, speaker, and author of Spirit Walking a Course in Shamanic Power, Modern Shamanic Living: New Explorations of an Ancient Path, the soon-to-be published A Spirit Walker’s Guide to Shamanic Tools and contributor to Spirited Medicine: Shamanism in Contemporary Healthcare; Evelyn C. Rysdyk delights in supporting people to remember their sacred place in All That Is. Whether through face-to-face contact with individual patients, workshop groups and conference participants, or through the printed word–Evelyn uses her loving humor and passion to open people’s hearts and inspire them to live more joyful, fulfilling and purposeful lives. In joint practice with Allie Knowlton as Spirit Passages, her web site is http://www.spiritpassages.com.

(Digital illustration © 2013 Evelyn Rysdyk)

A Long History of Serving Life

November 12, 2013

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“Every action in our lives touches on some chord that will vibrate in eternity.”

~Edwin Hubbel Chapin

A skeleton was discovered in Dolni Věstonice, an Upper Paleolithic archeological site in the Czech Republic about one hundred miles north of Vienna, Austria. This site was radiocarbon dated to approximately 26,000 years ago. While Dolni Věstonice is now arguably near the geographic center of Europe, during the Upper Paleolithic period, the area was on the edge of the glacial ice. The remains mentioned above were of a woman in her forties–old enough in those days to have been a grandparent. As an elder, she would have been important to her people. Rachel Caspari argued in Scientific American that elderly people were highly influential in prehistoric society. Grandparents assisted in childcare, perpetuated cultural transmission through storytelling and contributed to the increased complexity of stone tools through their practiced experience. In other words, during the Stone Age an elder was a vital repository of all the collected knowledge, history and wisdom of her or his people.

Not simply set apart by her advanced years, the woman of Dolni Věstonice also had a marked facial asymmetry. Her high-status burial and facial deformity suggests that she was a shaman. According to Simon Fraser University archaeologist, Brian Hayden it was “not uncommon that people with disabilities, …[were thought to have]… unusual supernatural powers.” This special woman was buried under two engraved mammoth shoulder blades. She and the contents of her grave had been painted with red ochre after her death. Over her head was a flint spearhead and in one hand she held the body of a fox.

A shaman interred 12,000 years ago, in what is now northern Israel, was afforded similar honors when she was buried. Relatively old for her time, the nearly 5-foot-tall, 45-year-old woman was placed in a mud-plastered and rock-lined pit in a cave and was buried beneath a large stone slab. She was buried with fifty carefully arranged tortoise shells, parts of wild pigs, an eagle wing, a cow tail, a leopard’s pelvis, two marten skulls, the forearm of a wild boar, which was laid in alignment with her upper left arm and other artifacts, including a human foot. This may have been a talisman to assist her in walking as her skeleton revealed that she would have limped quite badly.

Approximately 9,000 years ago, a younger female shaman was interred in a foot-thick layer of red ochre in what is now Bad Dürrenberg, Germany. Like her predecessors, she was interred with many extraordinary grave goods including crane, beaver and deer bones as well as antlers and shells. She was also accompanied by a year-old-child. Entering the spirit realms for the final time, she wore her shamanic costume. A spray of feathers was attached to her right shoulder. Over her leather dress, she wore a deerskin cape with the face of the deer drawn up on her head as a hood. Antlers were affixed to the top. A breastplate of leather and split boar tusks hung on her chest and the area above her eyes and around her face was lavishly decorated with suspended slices of boar tusks and other animal bones and teeth. Along her brow, a fringe mask or “eye curtain” of deer incisors dangled in front of her eyes.  Her toothy mask was very similar to the fringe masks that are still worn by the shamans of Siberia and Central Asia.

Throughout Northern European and Asian cultures, shamans were frequently women. The shaman’s grave of Dolni Věstonice has many similarities to others found across the region that range in dates from the Upper Paleolithic to a much more recent past. In the far-eastern Russian Arctic, a grave from only 2,000 years ago and dating from the Old Bering Sea culture held the skeleton of an elderly woman with a wooden mask at her knees. Her grave had been constructed so that she appeared to have been laid to rest in the body of a whale. Many of the artifacts found in this grave are objects would have been used in women’s activities, however her grave also held objects related to healing, rituals, and dance, indicating that this woman was most probably a shaman. From the wide varieties of burial offerings in her grave, it was also clear that her people revered her.

An assurance of abundance.

Evidence suggests that the Upper Paleolithic shaman from Dolni Věstonice was also a potter. This shaman was fashioning and firing clay over twelve thousand years before any other pottery vessels were made. She created many ceramicfigurines of animals and one particular figure that resembled other so-called “Venus” statues of the time period. These prehistoric statuettes  of women portrayed with similar robust physical attributes have been found in Europe and as far east as Irkutsk, Oblast, Siberia near Lake Baikal. The earliest figure found in Hohle Fels near Schelklingen, Germany was dated to 35,000 years ago while the most recent found in northern France was dated from 6,000 years ago. This suggests that our ancestors continued creating these images in bone, ivory, stone and clay for over 29,000 years. That equates to nearly fifteen hundred generations! For any cultural idea to be transmitted so accurately from one generation to the next for so many thousands of years, it had to have been considered vitally essential to the culture.

A recent study published in the Journal of Anthropology suggests that the figures constitute evidence that a shared cultural tradition existed in Stone Age Europe. Given that most of the figures were created during the extremely challenging climatic conditions that prevailed at this time, it seems likely that only a very few women survived to become corpulent elders as depicted by many of the figurines. Therefore, these portable images of very well nourished, multiparous mature females may have been talismans for success in the very difficult struggle to survive and reproduce. In this way, the figures can be seen as related to shamanic doll-like effigies used by Siberian tribes until the 20th century that were used to protect the people from calamities such as disease, famine or injury. Like those effigies, these ancestral female figures may have functioned as spiritual containers that held the essence or spirit of the symbolic mother/grandmother—a symbol of bounty, fertility and nourishment. In other words, these figures were may well have been talismans to assure survival, longevity and tribal continuance.

The spiritual image of elder females lasted for nearly three hundred centuries. Shaman graves tell us that particularly gifted women were also honored. Since these ideas persisted for so long, one can imagine that even after a few generations, they would have formed part of the culture’s primordial past. In other words, a female holy image and the female shaman would have been concepts that had “always been so.”

As it was in the beginning…

During the early 20th century prior to the Soviet Revolution, the cultural anthropologist M.A. Czaplicka gathered together much of the remaining shamanic knowledge of Siberia tribes. In her 1914 book, Aboriginal Siberia, A Study in Social Anthropology she quotes a Chukchee proverb, “Woman is by nature a shaman.” Indeed, hunter-gatherer tribes across the Arctic, Siberia, Central and Eastern Asia preserved the tradition that the prototypical “first shaman” was female. It is for that reason that both male and female shamans’ ceremonial costumes across Asia reflect traditional woman’s garments such as aprons, skirts and caps. Czaplicka said it this way, “Taking into account the present prominent position of female shamans among many Siberian tribes and their place in traditions, together with certain feminine attributes of the male shaman (such as dress, habits, privileges) and certain linguistic similarities between the names for male and female shamans…in former days, only female shamans existed, and..the male shaman is a later development.…”

This information is not meant to suggest in any way that men cannot be shamans or that male shamans didn’t exist in prehistory! Rather it is to suggest that a primeval female archetype is central to the deepest roots of the tradition. In venerating the feminine as a source of power, perhaps the people of prehistory were acknowledging that we have all come into this world from a womb and that our species–indeed all species–were born from the body of Mother Earth. Her elements make our physical life possible and a deep connection with the natural world–with Mother Nature in all her magnificence and abundance–is at the heart of shamanic spirituality.

Within the Earth’s sacred embrace, the masculine and feminine energies of life dance together to bring new life into the world. New generations of human beings and other creatures are born from this joining. Each new being is then nurtured by the Earth’s air, her water, her plants and animals. When our physical lives are over, we return again to her body. Our planet is pivotal to Life’s sacred circle of existence. Those who make the choice to align with the Earth and step into service for her multitude of life forms serve to support Life’s continuance. May every generation have people who choose to serve in our shamanic ancestors’ footsteps.

NOTE: The author is teaching the shamanic journey process on the weekend of December 7 & 8 in Falmouth, Maine. You can register by clicking on the links here: www.spiritpassages.com/calendar.html

(Photo credit for the shaman of Bad Dürrenberg © LDA Sachsen-Anhalt, Bild: Karol Schauer)

© 2013/2014 Evelyn C. Rysdyk

Nationally recognized shaman teacher/healer, speaker, and author of Spirit Walking a Course in Shamanic Power, Modern Shamanic Living: New Explorations of an Ancient Path, the soon-to-be published A Spirit Walker’s Guide to Shamanic Tools and contributor to Spirited Medicine: Shamanism in Contemporary Healthcare; Evelyn C. Rysdyk delights in supporting people to remember their sacred place in All That Is.  Whether through face-to-face contact with individual patients, workshop groups and conference participants, or through the printed word–Evelyn uses her loving humor and passion to open people’s hearts and inspire them to live more joyful, fulfilling and purposeful lives.  www.spiritpassages.com

Engaging the soul’s power through shamanic storytelling

August 10, 2013

Tanumshede-2005-rock-carvings

From a shamanic perspective, stories have incredible power. They can paint the picture of an era, give you courage, keep history alive, help to prepare you for a life event, teach you about a skill, and so much more. You can learn how to take your intentional use of language to heal, soothe, and enfold a child or support a person to leave the world as they are dying.

I am a fortunate woman, as my entire childhood was filled with stories. I was the firstborn and entered the world at a time when many of my elders were still living. Not only did I have two sets of grandparents, but their siblings were also a part of my life. I was blessed to spend many hours with my great grandmother, who had several living siblings, as well. More importantly, all of these elders were storytellers.

From the people on my mother’s side of the family, I heard stories of Norway and tales of making a new life in America. My grandmother grew up on a farm while my grandfather took to the sea as a young man. I learned many diverse stories, from tales of the little people on the farm to how pitch was gathered in the hold of a ship in South America to be brought back to Norway for shipbuilding. My grandfather, who learned carpentry aboard such a codfish boat, also shared hair-raising stories of building the wooden footings for what became New York’s Throgg’s Neck Bridge.

On my paternal side, I heard wonderfully colorful stories of Old New York and family tales from generations long gone. I heard of ministers, strong women, racehorse owners, fisher-folk and much more. From the old ones’ stories, I learned much about the challenges and triumphs of their lives as well as those of our ancestors. No matter how difficult my family elders’ existence may have been, their stories were deliciously vibrant and were generally well seasoned with humor and laughter.

For orally based tribal cultures, storytelling was a way to preserve the accumulated wisdom of history and transmit all that to succeeding generations. Stories included the tales which explained the cosmos, mythic stories of their ancestors, how their people came to be, how to hunt with respect, proper behavior, and much more. Imagine an encyclopedia of knowledge shared one story at a time! Children in an oral culture would absorb the collective wisdom through the elders’ tales in a way that wasn’t very different to my own childhood.

When the written word became paramount, oral traditions began to die out. This is unfortunate, as it contributes to the unraveling of traditional cultures. As ethnic and tribal groups lose their stories, they lose the glue that holds them together, and what was once an intact culture starts to die. Among more isolated tribal cultures, this dismantling of culture was delayed until the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, but it was no less chilling. This certainly occurred in Europe. When the Brothers Grimm began to write down the old stories, the tales had already begun to decompose from the lack of being told. When people no longer have cultural supports, they lose an important rudder for finding their way through the world. Then, as cultures die, people themselves can become lost, falling into spiritual illness, depression, anxiety, drug addiction, and alcoholism.

Stories can also be a tool for healing a person, a physical place or one’s own spirit. By changing the stories that we tell ourselves, we can help to transform the pains of our pasts and pave the path for new ways of thinking about who we are. In so doing, we also change the way we behave towards ourselves and also toward others. Working with story can support us to deeply believe in our own power.

A great way to begin to work with stories in a shamanic way is to tell a story about who you are. Either speak the story into a recording device or write it down. Include where you were born, how and where you were raised and how you’ve come to be who you are as an adult. Make sure to include the highs and the lows.

After you’ve done that, it is time to start the story again.  This time, begin with the phrase, “Once upon a time, there was a precious child…”  How would you tell that same story now? Tell it as though you were about to entrance a small child with a story! Don’t alter any of the events that created who you are, simply change the way that you speak about them. Take the ordinary facts of the events of your life, change the tone or perspective and tell them in such a way that they are transformed into a heroine or hero’s journey! This is not to simply romanticize the facts of your story or lie, but to see all the parts of your life’s journey in the larger context of your becoming.  Continue to ask yourself how past events contributed to who you are now.

Completing your new story will take some practice and diligence to achieve. To change your old, tired story you will need to reframe those parts where you are most stuck in old wounds, blame, shame, self-pity, anger or helplessness! Working through this will take some time and must be done in an atmosphere of loving attentiveness. Remind yourself along the way that the prize will be to finally close the chapter on the unhealed aspects of your life that are sapping your strength and power. If some parts of your old story stubbornly refuse to be shifted, get some support to help with the healing. Remember, you weren’t wounded in a vacuum. People participated in your hurts and pains. For that reason, it is important to seek the companionship and guidance of healing people to support your metamorphosis!

While you are engaged in this work, also take the time to reread the fables and fairy tales of your childhood. Observe how many of them were fraught with danger, sadness, loss and peril. The child was orphaned, she was poor, she was hurt and then notice how the change unfolded. Often times, a story’s hero or heroine doesn’t understand what is happening until the story is over! Look at how simple events changed the course of their journeys. Also make note of how the heroes or heroines were changed by their life experiences in the story. In most cases, the stories remind us that heroines and heroes are made by the experiences that they live through. If a “fairy godmother” element is involved in the tale you’re reading, look at how you could rewrite that aspect of the story to have the central character become the one who makes the transformation possible!  Use your creative mind and heart to turn the problem over until a solution reveals itself!

Remember that as you retell your story in a new way, you are actually reprograming your subconscious. This is the part of us that is always listening. By paying attention to how we process and interpret our sensory experiences, our subconscious gets programmed with the beliefs that we hold about ourselves and our world. Why this is important is because this aspect of our mind is what is working with our feelings to create our reality. As we change the information this aspect of ourselves receives, we are teaching it new ways to program our present reality as well as our future selves.

If you are feeling that you aren’t creative enough or don’t have the energy to do this, take some shamanic journeys or do some meditations to get inspired.  I think about inspiration as the action of being inspirited. Extreme and altered states can provide a kind of spaciousness to our consciousness that allows us to “dream bigger.” Indeed, when teaching my students about the shamanic state of consciousness, I do not talk about altering ordinary consciousness, rather I suggest that the shamanic state of consciousness is an expanded state of awareness or perception which produces an altered experience of reality.

While we journey, physical and emotional changes occur in our bodies. Spirit can support us to feel more imaginative, enlivened and enriched. From that feeling of fullness, we have the energy and creativity to move any project forward. Learning stories and how to share them is also a part of a shaman’s journey. While there are very few spiritual storytellers who are living, there are legions of them in the spirit world. Storytellers of every tradition and time period are available to those who can walk between the worlds.

Journey to your teacher or power animal to have them take you to a storytelling teacher. Ask that teacher questions such as, “How do I let go of the parts of my old story that hold me back?”  Another good one to ask is,  “What are the stories the spirits share about me?” Finally a great journey to do is to ask the storytelling teacher, “What is the story I need to be telling about my life now?”

Each of these journeys can help you to reframe the experiences of your past and will change the texture and color of your personal story. By working with the spirit of a master storytelling teacher you can learn how to refine and refresh the storyline to steer the “plot’ of your life in a new direction. As you continue refining your personal story you will begin to more deeply believe in and feel your own intrinsic power.

All of the best storytellers spend a lot of time refining, polishing and crafting their stories until they are mesmerizing to the listener. That is precisely the effect you are reaching toward. Keep refining and telling your story until your true story unfolds. Make your story so beautiful that you subconscious completely releases all of its old limitations! In so doing, you’ll be contributing to having a far more wondrous, amazing and powerful present. And your wondrous present is what contributes to your happily ever after.

© 2013 Evelyn C. Rysdyk

Nationally recognized shaman teacher/healer, speaker, and author of Spirit Walking a Course in Shamanic Power, Modern Shamanic Living: New Explorations of an Ancient Path, and contributor to Spirited Medicine: Shamanism in Contemporary Healthcare; Evelyn C. Rysdyk delights in supporting people to remember their sacred place in All That Is.  Whether through face-to-face contact with individual patients, workshop groups and conference participants, or through the printed word–Evelyn uses her loving humor and passion to open people’s hearts and inspire them to live more joyful, fulfilling and purposeful lives.  In joint practice with Allie Knowlton as Spirit Passages, her web site is http://www.spiritpassages.com.

Spiritual Preparedness–the shaman’s way!

July 5, 2013

Shaman Survival Kit

Having a strong spiritual rudder in one’s life feels truly essential. Not only to give comfort in trying situations, but to provide emotional resilience and healing. A shamanic practitioner can get the larger view of situations that can help to put the ordinary bumps of Life’s into a larger context. Indeed, I know my relationship with spirit has helped me to take the hard bumps in life more gently and to regain my balance after periods of turbulence.

 Thanks to electronic wizardry, I am able to stay connected with people on the shamanic path from all around the world. Through these connections, I have also borne witness to the devastating hurricanes, tornados, floods and wildfires that transform peoples’ lives in a matter of moments or days.

Even spiritual people experience difficult situations. Just because we have strengthened our connections to the numinous world does not make us immune to life’s troubles. Each of us can experience the disruption of personal or health-related issues, the devastation of dangerous weather conditions or geologic shifts such as earthquakes or volcanic eruptions. Indeed, the harsh weather we are seeing is likely to continue and in some places worsen due to climate change. Flooding will be more widespread, hurricanes more powerful, tornados more frequent and droughts even more dramatic in nature. Every region will experience some effects of the changing Earth.

Remaining resilient and thriving in difficult times requires us to go even deeper into our practice. Strengthening our connections to spirit and especially to the natural world can help to heal the adversarial relationship many of our species has toward the Earth and her shifts. For instance, when we have a better connection, we can be forewarned about changes.

By being diligent with our gratitude and offerings, we transform our physiology so that we can keep ourselves on a more even keel emotionally. Gratitude, appreciation, love and compassion can be incredible powerful as these feelings not only creates a calmer aspect internally, they can help to gentle the energy in the world. When we are in emotional coherence, we actually contribute to producing harmonious vibrations in the world around us. (This is the work we teach in our Two-Year Apprenticeship in Advanced Shamanism and Shamanic Healing AND what we deepen even further in our Shamanic Graduate Training Program, which is open to those who have had previous shamanic training.) 

 This means being a spiritual warrior and refusing to follow the crowd in their ever-growing anger, anxiety and polarization. I believe that we actually have a profound responsibility to use our consciousness to affect positive change. Rather than feeling impotent in the face of difficulty and harshness in the world we need to create harmony where there is discord through our internal practice and to gather together with others to take actions from a place of harmony and peace.

To accomplish this, we also need to care for our own needs. To free our minds from worry we can make preparations to sustain our physical existence should a storm, flood or other hardship occur. When we are feeling more secure about our physical situation we are less likely to succumb to fear and much more likely to be available to assist others. In other words, like the flight attendant reminds us when doing the safety check, we need to place the metaphoric oxygen mask on ourselves before we are able to help others.

So, along with making your connections to spirit rock solid, making gratitude your baseline and also deepening your relationship with the natural world, it is important to be a physically prepared shaman!

I have prepared a checklist that can help you in your preparations and to help you to prioritize how you can support your self to be strong and resilient. I consider this to be the bare minimum necessary to sustain yourself through a few days of hard times. Also remember to check in with your own spiritual guidance for additional ideas.

The Prepared Shaman Checklist

1. Develop a strong relationship with your helping spirits

• This makes it easier to connect with spirit when you are in a stressful situation

• It allows easier access to you for “early warnings”

• Connection provide solace and stress relief to make thinking easier during duress.

2. Practice gratitude until it is your baseline

• Practice with our “Becoming the New Human” CD!

• This protects your immune system and helps you to think well in a difficult situation!

3. Deepen your relationship with the natural world.

• My book, Spirit Walking: A Course in Shamanic Power has exercises to help you in this deepening.

4. Scan ALL of your vital documents onto a thumb drive (to reconstruct your life!)

• Insurances (life, home, car, medical)

• Car title

• Medical information including allergies for ALL family members

• Prescriptions

• Eyeglass/contact prescription

• Passports/ID

5. Create a preparedness kit in a backpack (refresh contents 2x year)

• Thumb drive with scanned vital information AND hard copies in waterproof zipper bag!

• Water purification (Micro-filter, water purifier and/or water purification tablets)

• Stainless steel water bottle

• Flashlight and extra batteries

• Portable CRANK/solar radio with USB charging port

• First aid materials and guides for use

• Tweezers

• Prescription medication (At least -3 days worth)

• Space pair of eyeglasses or contacts

• Extra car keys & house keys

• Freeze-dried foods AND/OR nutrition bars (for 3 days for each family member)

• Extra socks and underwear (for 3 days for each family member)

• Waterproof matches, magnesium fire starter & safety candles

• Warm wool or fleece blankets AND a Space blanket

• Alternative cooking device (portable Vital Stove/Grill • www.vitalgrill.com)

• Large stainless steel mug & pot to boil water

• Instant coffee or tea & instant soup/bouillon

• A few cotton bandannas

• Four or five gallon zipper bags

• A good multi-tool with pliers, knife and saw

• A fixed blade knife

• Folding saw

• Parachute cord

• A sewing kit –with extra large needle that will handle parachute core threads

• Stainless cutlery for eating

• Warm jacket & folding rain poncho

• A good, engaging book, playing cards and/or a portable board game

• Plastic sheeting & staple gun for covering broken windows—or emergency shelter

6. Stored next to the backpack

• Water (2 gallons a day for 3 days for each member of the family – refresh often)

• Folding water bags (used for camping) to be used in the home during expected storms

• Kelly Kettle for boiling water & cooking outdoors (Kelly Kettle Base Camp Stainless  Steel Kit)

© 2013 Evelyn C. Rysdyk

Nationally recognized shaman teacher/healer, speaker, and author of Spirit Walking a Course in Shamanic Power, Modern Shamanic Living: New Explorations of an Ancient Path, and contributor to Spirited Medicine: Shamanism in Contemporary Healthcare; Evelyn C. Rysdyk delights in supporting people to remember their sacred place in All That Is. Whether through face-to-face contact with individual patients, workshop groups and conference participants, or through the printed word–Evelyn uses her loving humor and passion to open people’s hearts and inspire them to live more joyful, fulfilling and purposeful lives. Her web site ishttp://www.evelynrysdyk.com.

Sacred Reciprocity: Nourishing What Feeds Us

May 25, 2013

Giving back to Nature

A shaman knows that everything is alive and has a spirit. It is easy to understand that animals, birds, plants and trees are living, but to the shaman so are the rivers, mountains, oceans, stones, hills and everything else in our environment. In a shaman’s eyes, nothing can be separate from the living fabric of the spirit world.

The village, the hunter’s bow and sacred objects have spirits, too. Human-made things can become inspirited as they are created. Through use and care, they become stronger. Indeed, through our interactions with any object we inspirit them. Our cars, our tools, our house and many other things, too become alive. We intuitively understand this since we often encourage our car to start on a cold morning or when it is having trouble running. We behave as we do because in our heart, we have come to recognize it as a living being. Sighing with gratitude when we enter our home in the evening is similar to a child surrendering to the embrace of a loving grandparent. We feel enfolded and safe. Through our love and caring, we have transformed things into beings.

Groups and organizations have a spirits, too. There is a spirit in every family group, tribe, church and school. These organizations nourish their members and are in turn energized and renewed by their participants. When we feel buoyed by “team spirit,” we are literally getting support from the spiritual entity of that group. When we feel energized by a visit to the local nature center we are receiving nurturance from the organization that sustains it. When we feel that we have grown and changed in a class, we have drawn energy from the organization that ran the program. When we have spend a few quiet hours in a library or local bookstore we have been fed.

In a tribal society, the shaman’s role is to act as a facilitator between the human realm and that of the other spirits that inhabit the environment. Through interaction with these spirits, shamans understand that the intrinsic interdependencies among them all sustain life. In addition, shamans know that we are so interconnected that we are in a constant dance of mutual impact upon one another.

The many spirit beings are also potential sources of power for the shaman. This is essential, as a shaman’s ability to heal is based upon the power-filled relationships forged with the spirits. Since their shamanic abilities are dependent upon these affiliations, shamans understand the fundamental necessity for keeping these alliances healthy and strong.

An attitude of harmonious give-and-take becomes the guiding principle in exchanges within those associations. The shaman-healers of the high Andes refer to this idea of mutual, respectful interaction—which must be always monitored and lovingly attended to—as ayni, which is translated as “sacred reciprocity.” By referring to this mutually beneficial interchange as sacred, they underline a kind of holiness to being in right relationship. In other words, when we interact in this manner, we are somehow more in alignment with the fundamental framework of existence.

When we choose to step back into this more ancient way of being in the world, the relationships we forge with the natural world can provide comfort, a sense of peace, a feeling of oneness, and strength that can be attained no other way. In effect, we develop a sense of “being home” wherever we are on the planet. This reconnection with the spirits of the Earth also provides us with supportive energy. It is the kind of energy that can help any of us to move through life with more joy, clarity, and purpose.

In other words, when we operate with love and caring in our lives, we refresh the spirits around us. In turn, these spirits are able to return the favor with their vibrancy. We step into a cycle of nourishment that is reciprocal and sacred.

You don’t have to be a shaman to draw strength from alliances with other spirits. Our friends and loved ones nourish us. Our pet’s presence can encourage us when we are feeling down. The rushing river calms our soul. These spirits provide us with nourishment as palpable as food and water. If any of them were to suddenly go way, we would grieve and feel a pain in our heart. Our own spirits would sustain a loss through their absence.

Shamans understand that any spirit may be wounded, weakened or diminished. When this occurs, that which is enlivened by that spirit begins to weaken. It is obvious that if we do not feed our child, dog or plant, they will eventually die. The same is true for the spirits of places in nature. If we do not lovingly attend to keeping a river or the ocean healthy, it can no long sustain life. This holds true for every being in our world. If we take more spiritual, emotional or physical nourishment from something than we replenish, the spirit of the organism cannot be sustained. We cannot withdraw support and nurturance without continually giving something back. We must maintain and nourish what feeds us. Since the cycles of life are like a wheel, when that which nourishes us is lost, we begin to diminish, too. We cannot thrive in an energetic or spiritual vacuum. When the beings we depend upon for nourishment die, we die a little, too. It is an inescapable truth.

A shaman intrinsically understands that like members of a hunter-gatherer society, we are surrounded with other beings with whom we need to maintain harmonious balance in order to create a mutually beneficial situation. In ordinary terms, that suggests that we need to attend to the spirits of beings around us. This is especially true for those spirits from whom we draw strength, power, emotional support or joy. We need to recognize that the fundamental interdependencies with nature, with other spirits and with each other are critical for our emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing and ultimately our survival.

Organizations and groups have spirits and so are like living organisms. As such, they can also be diminished when we take nourishment without returning the favor. Just as with other spirits, when they begin to die, we are diminished, too. It is important to begin thinking about your school, your local library, the workplace you really enjoy, your favorite bookstore, your treasured sacred space or places you express your spirituality are actually spirits themselves that need your care and nourishment. So how do we reenter the way of being that allows us to work with these spirits who surround us? The answer is learning how to be in reverent participatory relationship with them. The word reverent implies feeling and expressing a profound respect or veneration as well as a willingness to show consideration or appreciation. Participatory means that we take an active part in the relationship.

It is easy to take things and organizations for granted. They’re simply there and we take what we need. However, as we become more conscious, we begin to recognize that this kind of behavior is both childlike and selfish. Like the shaman, we start to look for ways to put energy back into the wheel so that the spirits are sustained. In turn, the group or organization will continue to have the energy to sustain us. It is about doing our part in creating a healthy and balanced world. In this way our actions become extensions of our spiritual intentions.

When we open our eyes to the idea that everything that we enjoy in life requires our energy to survive, we can more easily find ways to do it. In real terms, that means buying goods from a local businesses, giving time and or money to the organizations that care for your favorite parkland, volunteering at your church, helping to spruce up your favorite beach, supporting the work of your favorite spiritual or educational venues by attending their programs and continuing to look for ways to support anything that supports your quality of life.

As we step into more conscious, mutually beneficial and reverent interactions with the beings, places and organizations in our life our spirits receive more energy. This is a way to begin transforming the dominant culture’s paradigm of irresponsible exploitation. With the exclusion of those who follow a more holistic worldview, we as a society do not generally do a good job of nurturing the beings around us. Nor do we see our fundamental interdependencies with nature and with each other upon which we depend for our survival.

For those of us that are warriors for a better future and how want to enjoy the benefits of being continually nurtured ourselves, we have the power to feed and love those beings that sustain our world. When we undertake, facilitate and encourage interactions that are focused toward reverence and participation we are actually transforming our reality. In this way, we turn away from the nihilistic, exploitative nature of our larger culture and instead focusing our energies on what we more of in our world. It is clear to me that if we want to reshape our current human culture into one that’s more ecologically sound, we can start by making reverent participatory relationship our guiding principle—with nature, her creatures, our favorite place and organizations, each other, and with our Earth.

© 2013 Evelyn C. Rysdyk

Nationally recognized shaman teacher/healer, speaker, and author of Spirit Walking a Course in Shamanic Power, Modern Shamanic Living: New Explorations of an Ancient Path, and contributor to Spirited Medicine: Shamanism in Contemporary Healthcare; Evelyn C. Rysdyk delights in supporting people to remember their sacred place in All That Is. Whether through face-to-face contact with individual patients, workshop groups and conference participants, or through the printed word–Evelyn uses her loving humor and passion to open people’s hearts and inspire them to live more joyful, fulfilling and purposeful lives. Her web site is http://www.evelynrysdyk.com.

Excerpts from Spirit Walking: A Course in Shamanic Power

February 24, 2013

spirit walking smallI’ve ben sharing these excerpts on my Facebook page, but thought you’d like to see a few of them in a collection! The book is available now as a preorder through Amazon.com and will be in bookstores on April 1st. Spirit Walking is filled with many experiential exercises which are much too difficult to share here so you’ll need to pick up a copy! Be sure to read the Foreword by Sandra Ingerman, too! SPECIAL NOTE: My tenth Two-Year Training in Advanced Shamanism and Shamanic Healing begins this April, too! Full-color brochure with a registration form may be found here.)

1.  “…the terms spirit walker and shaman have different meanings in this book. A shaman is a healer—often indigenous—who is recognized as such by her or his community. I use the term spirit walker or shamanic practitioner to distinguish the essence of what it means to be a shaman apart from the role within the community. That is, you not only walk between the realms to access the spiritual, you also walk alongside the spirits of nature and your helping spirits. It is these relationships with spirits, animals, birds, plants, natural forces, and other human beings that provide a fresh way to be in harmony with All That Is.”

2.  “Within every one of our cells, we carry the elemental building blocks of life—DNA—a remarkable double helix-shaped chain of chemical information that shapes our physical form. And housed within the twisting steps of this amazing molecule is the story of our evolution as human beings. … Recent discoveries have documented the fact that inside of the 60,000 to 80,000 genes that constitute our human genome lies the information to create all other life-forms on the planet. When molecular biologists examine the complex strands of our DNA, they also find housed within it more than a blueprint for a human being, but rather an extraordinary library of codes for all life on Earth. We carry the entire interlinked biosphere in every cell. We are part of all of Creation and all of Creation is held within us.”

3.  “Your choice to become a spirit walker requires that you not only learn shamanic methods, but also how to be a true person of power. This path is not one of ego or a journey of grandiosity; but rather instead, it is the humble walk into a deeper relationship with All That Is. A shaman is guided by her or his heart and celebrates the interconnections that unite and nourish all beings.

To be able to become this kind of person, you must go through an evolution. That means learning how to approach the world from a place of love and gratitude that diminishes fear and anger. This is not the way tendency of the culture that surrounds you. Every day you are bathed in the energies of society’s fear, and anger, and the painful expressions of these lower vibrations. From a widespread epidemic of anxiety and depression to outright violence and senseless mayhem, you bear witness to unconscious, poorly modulated expressions of emotional energy. In following the path of the shaman, you learn the discipline to be and behave in a more powerful way.”

4.  “… a shaman’s ability to heal is based upon the power-filled relationships forged with the spirits. Since their shamanic abilities are dependent upon these affiliations, shamans understand the fundamental necessity for keeping these alliances healthy and strong. An attitude of harmonious give-and-take becomes the guiding principle in exchanges within those associations. The Quechua-speaking pacos or shaman-healers of the high Andes refer to this idea of mutual, respectful interaction—which must be always monitored and lovingly attended to—as ayni, which is translated as “sacred reciprocity.” By referring to this mutually beneficial interchange as sacred, they underline a kind of holiness to being in right relationship. In other words, when we interact in this manner, we are somehow more in alignment with the fundamental framework of existence.”

© 2013 Evelyn C. Rysdyk   www.evelynrysdyk.com

Nationally recognized shaman teacher/healer, speaker, and author of Spirit Walking a Course in Shamanic Power, Modern Shamanic Living: New Explorations of an Ancient Path, and contributor to Spirited Medicine: Shamanism in Contemporary Healthcare, Evelyn C. Rysdyk delights in supporting people to remember their sacred place in All That Is. Whether through face-to-face contact with individual patients, workshop groups and conference participants, or through the printed word–Evelyn uses her loving humor and passion to open people’s hearts and inspire them to live more joyful, fulfilling and purposeful lives. In joint practice with Allie Knowlton as Spirit Passages, her web site is http://www.spiritpassages.com.

The author’s new Two-Year Training in Advanced Shamanism and Shamanic Healing begins this April.

Picking up the shaman’s drum.

February 9, 2013

Cosmic DrummingSeveral of the tribal shamans with whom I’ve studied began their journey toward becoming a healer while they were still very young children. For instance, the Quechua-speaking Peruvian shaman Puma Quispe Singona, began his training when he was just a child. As a six-year-old boy, he was playing in the river and was struck by lightning. Fortunately, Puma survived. His grandfather, Maximo Quispe recognized that this meant the spirits of the mountains–known there as apus–were calling Puma to be a paqo.

My Nepalese teacher, Bhola Banstola has a similar personal history. He received his calling at a very early age and was taught traditional shamanic healing methods by his family elders. While many tribal shamans have had the benefit of beginning early, there are those who found their lives taking new turns much later in life. I was fortunate to meet several of those people while visiting Nepal.

The Tamang shaman Buddhi Maya Lama, who is better known as Aama Bombo or “Mother Shaman,” began life in Nepal’s North-central hill country. Aama’s people are the indigenous inhabitants of the Himalayan regions of Nepal. Her people are the largest ethnic group found there. They are a Tibeto-Burmese speaking people who trace their ancient ancestry to the Tibetan plateau.

Aama wanted to be a shaman from as early as five-years-old since her beloved father was famous for his gifts as a shamanic healer.  Unfortunately, traditional Tamang culture prohibits women from practicing shamanism and so her father discouraged her desire to follow in his footsteps.

When Aama was sixteen, she moved with her husband to his military residence in Kathmandu. While she was in the city, her father grew ill and before she was able to return home, her father died. This was a terrible blow to her as she lost both her father and her connections to his spiritual world.

At age twenty-five, Aama suddenly began shaking uncontrollably. Her family took her to the hospital as she was thought to be mentally unstable but soon the convulsions ended. A while later, her shaking began again and continued off and on for fourteen months. However, this time Aama was fortunate to have been taken to a Buddhist lama who determined that her problem was spiritual in nature. The lama told her that the spirit of her late father was trying to work through her. Aama’s father had died without finding a suitable person who could receive his shamanic power. Apparently, his spirit believed that, in spite of the Tamang cultural prohibitions, it was only his daughter Aama who had a pure enough heart to work with the power of the gods and his other healing spirits.

Since that time, Aama has continued her work of healing people. Each morning, she starts her day with prayers to Shiva, the deity that is most sacred to Nepalese shamans, and then proceeds back to her home. There, she sees up to one hundred clients a day from all walks of life for healing, divination and blessing. Now seventy three-years old, Aama is widely recognized as a powerful shaman, healer and member of the Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers.

Hari Bahadur Khadka or Guruji began his shamanic career at an even later age.  Known as the “egg shaman,” due to his unusual form of shamanic extraction work that is accomplished with eggs, Guruji resides in Durwakot a rural village in the Bhaktapur District of Nepal. He is known all over that country for his ability as a spiritual healer and diviner. His method has been proven effective for a variety of mental and physical diseases and conditions. He has helped people suffering from AIDS, cancer, paralysis, tuberculosis, infertility and ulcers.

While he began his spiritual life at the age of eleven, Guruji did not initially pursue a shamanic calling. He served in the military, became a police officer and worked as an administrator for the Ministry of Finance. It wasn’t until much later that Guruji finally began his shamanic practice. The egg shaman was then fifty-eight-years-old.

Sometimes the life of an established shaman takes a dramatic turn that forces her or him to start over in a new way or a new place. The last Tibetan shaman or lhapa, Pau Nyima Dhondup is one such person. Pau Nyima was born in the Bungpa, Kepyand part of Tibet. When Pau Nyima entered puberty, he was spontaneously chosen by the spirits to continue his family’s healing tradition. At that time, the powerful mountain deity, Nyenchen Thanglha entered his body and the young lhapa began having the visual and auditory initiatory experiences that signaled his calling. Unfortunately, this is the time that people were fleeing Tibet and so he was unable to receive training he needed to master the power.

Finally, when he was in his late twenties, he was able to apprentice with two other lhapas. Like many other Tibetan people, Nyima was forced to flee his homeland. Since that time, he has resided in the Tarshi Palkhiel Tibetan Refugee Settlement on the outskirts of Pokhara, Nepal. There, Nyima performs healings in his modest home. While working, he merges with Nyenchen Thanglha and other spirits including a fierce wild canine that bites and sucks out illness from the lhapa’s patients’ bodies. During these healings, the entranced shaman reveals actual objects to show the patient the sources of their illness. People from around the world have found their way down the grassy lane to his home to receive healings by his spirits.

My partner Allie’s shamanic calling didn’t begin until her very early fifties. She had a severe infection that was treated by a medical center. The provider there also told her that while her illness would be cleared up by medicine, it may also have some underlying message. The practitioner sent Allie to a well-known psychic to get a reading about her illness. There, it was revealed that Allie was being called to be a shaman. While she had always been a spiritual person, this was shocking news! Yet, some part of Allie knew the truth of what the psychic told her. From that point forward, Allie began her shamanic path. She learned the shamanic journey process, which she practiced daily until she was able to begin more formal training.

My own journey along this path formally began in my early thirties. Initially experienced upheaval in every aspect of my existence from where I lived to how I made a living. Initially these changes felt somewhat disorienting, however since I was terribly depressed and in an unfulfilling job I continued my explorations. I soon realized that developing relationships with benevolent spirits and traveling along the shamanic path led me to something far better than anything that had gone before. Today, I am far more fulfilled than at any other time in my life!

Indeed, this sort of calling is becoming more common today. People all over the world are awakening to the path of shamanism. Doctors, lawyers, engineers, executives and other people are discovering that their lives are taking a sharp turn toward the spiritual. They are drawn to work with the spirits. They learn to journey and take our shamanic training programs to develop their relationships with the numinous world. While a few become healers, all of them bring their new connections with the spirits into their ordinary experiences. They find themselves enriched, changed and often make incredible transformations in their own lives as well as the lives of those that they know and love.

While starting something new can feel disorienting or even disturbing, it can lead you to a life of wonder, beauty and service. I believe that those who have stepped into deep relationships with the spirits and with nature are the ones who will make the changes in our culture that will heal our people and our planet. This happens by getting trained to work with spirits safely, learning how to be in heart coherence with those spirits that are around you, and developing shamanic skills that support all aspects of your life to be sacred work. It doesn’t matter if you are very young or well-seasoned, there has never been a better time to take up the shaman’s drum!

© 2013 Evelyn C. Rysdyk

Nationally recognized shaman teacher/healer, speaker, and author of Spirit Walking a Course in Shamanic PowerModern Shamanic Living: New Explorations of an Ancient Path, and contributor to Spirited Medicine: Shamanism in Contemporary Healthcare, Evelyn C. Rysdyk delights in supporting people to remember their sacred place in All That Is.  Whether through face-to-face contact with individual patients, workshop groups and conference participants, or through the printed word–Evelyn uses her loving humor and passion to open people’s hearts and inspire them to live more joyful, fulfilling and purposeful lives.  In joint practice with Allie Knowlton as Spirit Passages, her web site is www.spiritpassages.com.

The author’s new Two-Year Training in Advanced Shamanism and Shamanic Healing begins this April.

Information: http://www.spiritpassages.com/initiatorytrainingprograms.html

Printable brochure: http://www.spiritpassages.com/pdfs/2YearGradFlyer.pdf

Shining a lIght in the shadow

April 30, 2012

This Spring, the country of Norway chose to recognize shamanism as a “religion.” In truth, shamanism is not a religion, but rather a way of perceiving the world that includes the use of visionary  methods which  facilitate our communication with the marvelous field of sentience surrounding us. Yet, this recognition by Norway is a breakthrough. Firstly, the edict finally legally acknowledges the legitimacy of the indigenous spiritual traditions of the Sami people. These people are the ancient inhabitants of Scandinavia. Over the centuries, their spiritual practices were driven underground by government and the church. Indeed, the Sami experienced the same kinds of repression that Native Americans experienced in this country. From  children being forced to attend boarding school, suppression of language and culture to the widespread destruction of Sami shaman drums, ritual objects and sacred sites.

Norway’s step, which echoes the 2008 applogy the country of Australia made to the Aboriginal people for laws and policies that “inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss”, shows that some governments are willing to own their shadow sides and begin to create change.

Knowing our own dark shadow sides can offer us a pathway to liberation. The shadow side of us often holds judgement, creates blame,  shames or hates, and capable of inflicting pain. It is the side of us that can hurt others and even have the capacity to kill. It can see other human beings as animals or “things.” No matter who we believe ourselves to be, a dire enough circumstance can cause us to be cruel, hateful or even seek to destroy another.

These feelings are a part of our human psyche. To be able to liberate ourselves from these demons, means first acknowledging the existence of them.  The process of exploring the horrors of darkest self, or what I call “getting to know the inner Mengele,” can prevent us from taking unconscious actions from a shadow feeling, perception or thought. When we know our darkness and heal those places that make us operate from the shadow, can we truly make conscious choices about how we desire to be and behave. Only then can our Light be honestly and deeply bright.

http://www.tnp.no/norway/panorama/2792-shamanism-approved-as-a-religion-in-norway

© 2012 Evelyn C. Rysdyk
Nationally recognized shaman teacher/healer, speaker, and author of Modern Shamanic Living: New Explorations of an Ancient Path, Evelyn C. Rysdyk delights in supporting people to remember their sacred place in All That Is. Whether through face-to-face contact with individual patients, workshop groups and conference participants, or through the printed word–Evelyn uses her loving humor and passion to open people’s hearts and inspire them to live more joyful, fulfilling and purposeful lives. In joint practice with Allie Knowlton as Spirit Passages, her web site is http://www.spiritpassages.com.