On Listening, Gun Violence, and Squirrels

The morning after the terrible incident of mass gun violence in an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, I did what I do every morning. I took my whole self, alternately weeping and fuming, outside to sit with the squirrels and find some solace in the other-than-human world.

But there were no squirrels scampering to meet me, the bearer of a container full of peanuts. I could hear them, though. From the trees came alarm calls – the shrieks of grey squirrels, the scolding chatter of the reds, and, closer to the earth, the “chip-chip” of chipmunks. Even the blue jays interjected their caws to help with the warning.

I did not see one, but a predator must have been close. Hawks and other raptors have swooped in on more than one occasion, owls sometimes roost in nearby trees, and fox and coyote come by. The message that something had made the normal morning nut gathering unsafe was repeated in the trees and everyone stayed away.

While the cacophony of squirrels continued, I reflected on listening. Humans, in general, are poor listeners. The world we have created is loud. There are too few places where one can go to escape the noise of motor vehicles, the hum of electronics, or the overhead rumble of air traffic. We make desirable sounds, such as music and movie and television audio, even louder so we can hear over the background sounds. When we try to hear each other, we are often saying, “What?” and repeating ourselves.

Even when we can hear one another, there is little listening. The alarm cries about gun violence have been raised for decades by those who have recognized the danger and want us all to be safe, but they aren’t repeated until the danger is gone. Instead, some hear, “Hawk!” and think, “I’m okay. The hawk is my friend,” and belittle the fear felt by those who know better. Calls for change stop and we go about our days while the hawk circles above us, watching and waiting.

The excessive number of guns in the United States is not the only issue of importance right now, of course. It is just front and center in my mind the day after another gun was used in the way it was intended to be but against those who were not acceptable victims. And, as usual, there is a good deal of yelling and pleading and very little listening by those who would rather we are all easy prey than interrupt their daily gathering of wealth and power.

We are not squirrels, of course, and comparing us humans to them is simplifying a complex situation so I can come to my own understanding of it. As I am soothed by nature, I am also informed by it. I believe the other-than-human beings can teach us much about being better humans.

What I’ve learned about squirrels is that they listen to each other, and even to those who are of different species but face the same threats. Because none of them are safe until they are all safe.

Podcast Ep. 113: Honor Your Tired

It has been a month, friends. I got a bit whiny as I recorded this, but tired is my truth and I choose to honor it. If you feel it too, I hope you will also honor your tired and take some time for rest and renewal. The yoga in this episode is an easy, supine practice and leaves you seated for meditation.

I would like to welcome new My Shamanic Life patrons. Thank you! If you like this podcast and would like me to keep recording new episodes, please visit my Patreon page and become a patron for as little as one dollar a month. When you do, you will have access to patron-only guided shamanic journeys to meet animal helping spirits and read posts about the animals’ symbolism and archetypal energy as well as the natural history and conservation challenges those animal face in their living incarnation. As you work with different animals, you connect more deeply with the natural world and may be inspired to advocate for one of the wild beings you resonate with.

If you would like to chat about this episode and connect with others who share your love for the wild beings, join the Shamanic Flow Circle group on Facebook and get the free Guide to Getting Real when you sign up for the email newsletter, which is full of moon magic and upcoming virtual events.

Much love and gratitude to Blair Sutherland for the beautiful intro and background music. Blair is also an outstanding webmaster and makes sure I can share these episodes with you. Thank you, Blair!

While the yoga and other practices presented are intended to be accessible to most, please be open to practicing in an appropriate and safe way for you. It is recommended that you consult your physician before beginning any new exercise program and that at any time during a practice you feel nausea, dizziness, or pain you stop and seek medical advice. I accept no liability whatsoever for any damages arising from the use of my podcasts and, while I make all reasonable efforts to share accurate instruction, the podcast may contain unintended errors. Before all else, listen to your body and trust your inner knowing.

Podcast Ep. 112: The Thing About Balance

I missed a couple of weeks of recording because some personal stuff upset the illusion of balance I had for myself. The thing about balance, especially that work-life balance that is often spoken of, is that it does not exist. Instead, we are merely juggling our obligations or, as I put it in this episode, running from one side of the seesaw to the other trying to keep them both in the air. Sometimes, however, something unexpected but important and urgent lands on one end and you just tumble off. In this episode, I invite you to explore balance, and then let it go, in an equinox inspired yoga practice.

If you are a Shamanic Reiki Level Two practitioner or a Reiki II with shamanic journeying experience, you can join the upcoming Shamanic Reiki Master Practitioner training taking place virtually over the first two weekends in April, 2022. Visit my Shamanic Reiki Training page for more details and online registration.

I would like to welcome new My Shamanic Life patrons. Thank you! If you like this podcast and would like me to keep recording new episodes, please visit my Patreon page and become a patron for as little as one dollar a month. When you do, you will have access to patron-only guided shamanic journeys to meet animal helping spirits and read posts about the animals’ symbolism and archetypal energy as well as the natural history and conservation challenges those animal face in their living incarnation. As you work with different animals, you connect more deeply with the natural world and may be inspired to advocate for one of the wild beings you resonate with.

If you would like to chat about this episode and connect with others who share your love for the wild beings, join the Shamanic Flow Circle group on Facebook and get the free Guide to Getting Real when you sign up for the email newsletter, which is full of moon magic and upcoming virtual events.

Much love and gratitude to Blair Sutherland for the beautiful intro and background music. Blair is also an outstanding webmaster and makes sure I can share these episodes with you. Thank you, Blair!

While the yoga and other practices presented are intended to be accessible to most, please be open to practicing in an appropriate and safe way for you. It is recommended that you consult your physician before beginning any new exercise program and that at any time during a practice you feel nausea, dizziness, or pain you stop and seek medical advice. I accept no liability whatsoever for any damages arising from the use of my podcasts and, while I make all reasonable efforts to share accurate instruction, the podcast may contain unintended errors. Before all else, listen to your body and trust your inner knowing.

Podcast Ep 111: Mindfully Re-Centering

This week I have felt scattered, and I am having trouble focusing on tasks I need to complete, like creating a new podcast episode. World events, and my own stuff, have been distracting. To work with the disarray in my thoughts, I am sharing a simple mindfulness meditation practice, which I hope will be re-centering for both of us.

Please join me on Tuesday, March 22, 2022 to celebrate Ostara, the spring equinox, in virtual ceremony. You will find more information and online registration on my ceremonies page.

I would like to welcome new My Shamanic Life patrons. Thank you! If you like this podcast and would like me to keep recording new episodes, please visit my Patreon page and become a patron for as little as one dollar a month. When you do, you will have access to patron-only guided shamanic journeys to meet animal helping spirits and read posts about the animals’ symbolism and archetypal energy as well as the natural history and conservation challenges those animal face in their living incarnation. As you work with different animals, you connect more deeply with the natural world and may be inspired to advocate for one of the wild beings you resonate with.

If you would like to chat about this episode and connect with others who share your love for the wild beings, join the Shamanic Flow Circle group on Facebook and get the free Guide to Getting Real when you sign up for the email newsletter, which is full of moon magic and upcoming virtual events.

Much love and gratitude to Blair Sutherland for the beautiful intro and background music. Blair is also an outstanding webmaster and makes sure I can share these episodes with you. Thank you, Blair!

While the yoga and other practices presented are intended to be accessible to most, please be open to practicing in an appropriate and safe way for you. It is recommended that you consult your physician before beginning any new exercise program and that at any time during a practice you feel nausea, dizziness, or pain you stop and seek medical advice. I accept no liability whatsoever for any damages arising from the use of my podcasts and, while I make all reasonable efforts to share accurate instruction, the podcast may contain unintended errors. Before all else, listen to your body and trust your inner knowing.

The Land and Me

I have been thinking about ecology, which is the study of how beings interact with each other and their environment, to better understand what terms like “eco-spirituality” and “spiritual ecology” mean. Ecology seems pretty science-y, and science and spirituality are often thought of as opposites. Both spirituality and ecology are about relationships, however, and there is crossover in the way we relate to the land and the beings with whom we share the land.

I was disappointed in my religious tradition of origin and many of the others that I have explored because the concept of relationship seemed to end with humans, and often did not even extend to all humans. The land, and living on it, seemed to be something to overcome or control. I cringed ever time I read or heard about the “lesser beings” who we supposedly had dominion over. My own experience taught me differently.

grey squirrel on my snow covered landI do not work with deities in my spiritual practice. The personification of divine energy does not resonate with me; instead, I see that energy expressed in every living thing and in the land itself. After struggling to even say “God,” which felt like an obstacle to an interfaith ministry, I redefined that name for myself to mean the universal divine energy.

If I am an expression of divine energy, the other animals and plants are expressions of divine energy, and the land is an expression of divine energy, where is the separation? How can we possibly have power over another life or the land if we are all, essentially, the same?

I contemplate those questions during my morning outdoor meditation time as I watch the squirrels and birds in their morning activities. That contemplation has shifted my relationship with the land I am on. Like a human family has shared genetics, the land and I are of the same stuff.

It is in this realization, I think, that spiritual ecology comes to be. I, as a human animal, interact with the land and the other beings differently when I see us as the same. My spirituality influences my understanding of ecology, and my study of ecology influences my spirituality.

And here we sit, the land and me, divinely intertwined.

Ostara 2022: What We Plant

To create the ritual for my upcoming Ostara ceremony, I revisited my research looking for themes. The vernal equinox marks the beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere, which is associated with rebirth, revitalization, growth, and fertility. The equinox is also the time of balance when the daylight and dark are approximately equal. And there is spring cleaning to be done. But none of those themes were calling to me.

hands of two people holidng plant seedling

Image by Shameer Pk from Pixabay

Like the Christian Easter, Ostara is symbolized by spring things like baby animals, eggs, seedlings, and the early flowers that emerge from bulbs such as crocuses and tulips. These symbols represent new life and affirm the hope we cultivated at Imbolc. Although my ritual would be at winter’s end, I was not feeling ready to leave hope behind, and began to think about what we plant with our intentions.

I pulled on the threads of hope, intentions, and planting to create a ritual that felt empowering, then set that aside to work on other things. A few days later, Russia invaded Ukraine, and suddenly the context for hopeful intentions expanded beyond our individual desires.

What if we plant an intention for world peace? Does that seem too big? I wondered if such a lofty intention would have the effect of being ultimately disempowering. After all, some humans have been wishing for peace, as well as slightly less ambitious things like an equitable response to climate change, for a long time without seeing much movement in that direction. Even those of us with a big reserve of hope can feel discouraged.

In the end, I decided to go big. We are, after all, powerful changemakers, so let us have our magic reflect and reinforce that. What we plant matters, not because we will be immediately rewarded, but because the collective force of shared intentions will eventually reach a critical mass. Combining our power is, after all, why we come together for ritual.

The Ostara ceremony for world peace will take place, virtually, on Tuesday, March 22, 2022. Visit the ceremonies page for details and registration.

Podcast Ep. 110: When Yoga Gets Loud

When my helping spirits gave me a message to “get loud,” I was not sure what they meant. Yoga, Reiki, and meditation are not loud practices. But I knew yoga could help strengthen our speaking up muscles, and the practice I planned was affirmed right before I recorded. Join me for an active yoga practice that gets loud.

Join me for virtual ceremony for Ostara on March 22, 2022. Details are on the ceremonies page.

I would like to welcome new My Shamanic Life patrons. Thank you! If you like this podcast and would like me to keep recording new episodes, please visit my Patreon page and become a patron for as little as one dollar a month. When you do, you will have access to patron-only guided shamanic journeys to meet animal helping spirits and read posts about the animals’ symbolism and archetypal energy as well as the natural history and conservation challenges those animal face in their living incarnation. As you work with different animals, you connect more deeply with the natural world and may be inspired to advocate for one of the wild beings you resonate with.

If you would like to chat about this episode and connect with others who share your love for the wild beings, join the Shamanic Flow Circle group on Facebook. And get the free Guide to Getting Real when you sign up for the email newsletter, which is full of moon magic and upcoming virtual events.

Much love and gratitude to Blair Sutherland for the beautiful intro and background music. Blair is also an outstanding webmaster and makes sure I can share these episodes with you. Thank you, Blair!

While the yoga and other practices presented are intended to be accessible to most, please be open to practicing in an appropriate and safe way for you. It is recommended that you consult your physician before beginning any new exercise program and that at any time during a practice you feel nausea, dizziness, or pain you stop and seek medical advice. I accept no liability whatsoever for any damages arising from the use of my podcasts and, while I make all reasonable efforts to share accurate instruction, the podcast may contain unintended errors. Before all else, listen to your body and trust your inner knowing.

Moon Magic: New Moon in Pisces

Each New and Full Moon I dig into lunar astrology to write my newsletter and to set the theme for the associated Turtle Journey. I am not an astrologer, but I have enjoyed learning about this one aspect of astrology. I share some of what I am discovering here, along with a bit of magic.

I have been lax in writing posts for the past couple of weeks. For the first week I was trying to catch up on other work, then last week Ukraine was invaded, and I felt like I had nothing to say. How could I possibly share what was happening for me, someone too small to have any influence on the world around me? It was quite a shock to my system, after feeling lit up by the Full Moon in Leo, as I mused on in my last post.

Today’s New Moon in Pisces has been playing with my emotions, and my sense of time and place. I had one of those shower moments when I was so lost in thought I forgot what I was meant to do while I stood under the water. I am also having trouble keeping track of which day of the week it is and have noticed others are affected as well. These moments of disconnect are Pisces at play, when the edges are blurred between realms, and we are caught in the mystical in between space.

So how should I work with that wobbly, dreamy energy while very real horrors are happening?

field of sunflowers under blue sky

Image by József Kincse from Pixabay

In addition to the grounded, concrete actions one can take now, such as talking to my representatives (we all need to make sure they hear from us more) and supporting legitimate organizations providing aid to the people and animals of Ukraine, magic calls me to its work.

One of the first things I learned as a newbie practitioner was how to shield. I have been working with my protective energy bubble for decades and have placed similar shields on my house and car. The intention of those shields is to keep me safe and filter out negativity. Not long ago I adapted my shielding ritual to protect wolves. Could I do the same for a country?

I checked in with the Earth and the Nature Spirits this morning as I sat outside for meditation and got a clear “yes.” I was shown how to use my roots, both to connect in with my own circle of support and to transmit energy and intention through the Earth herself to feed a bubble of protection around Ukraine. In the past I have powered my shields with cosmic light, so reaching below and working with the Earth in this way was new.

As I continue to deepen with this revelation, I hope you will also ask Spirit how you might help manifest peace. Yes, world peace is a dream, but there is no better time than when the Moon is in Pisces to float into the realm of dreams and bring one back with you.

May peace and love prevail.

If you are not receiving my newsletter, please sign up. I send a newsletter only before each New and Full Moon with a reflection on the astrology and an invitation to the Turtle Journey – a 30-minute shamanic journey experience via conference call – and other upcoming events and classes.

Podcast Ep. 109: A Prayer For Peace

I set aside my plan for this episode to instead record a meditative prayer for peace. I am following the invasion of Ukraine with a heavy heart, and this is my small offering towards cultivating peace, light, hope, and love in our world. I also pray that I can return to a serious but somewhat lighter topic next week. May this prayer for peace be so.

I did not mention my Patreon in this episode, but I would like to welcome my new patrons. Thank you! If you like this podcast and would like me to keep recording new episodes, please visit my Patreon page and become a patron for as little as one dollar a month. When you do, you will have access to patron-only guided shamanic journeys to meet animal helping spirits and read posts about the animals’ symbolism and archetypal energy as well as the natural history and conservation challenges those animal face in their living incarnation. As you work with different animals, you connect more deeply with the natural world and may be inspired to advocate for one of the wild beings you resonate with.

If you would like to chat about this episode and connect with others who share your love for the wild beings, join the Shamanic Flow Circle group on Facebook and get the free Guide to Getting Real when you sign up for the email newsletter, which is full of moon magic and upcoming virtual events.

Much love and gratitude to Blair Sutherland for the beautiful intro and background music. Blair is also an outstanding webmaster and makes sure I can share these episodes with you. Thank you, Blair!

While the yoga and other practices presented are intended to be accessible to most, please be open to practicing in an appropriate and safe way for you. It is recommended that you consult your physician before beginning any new exercise program and that at any time during a practice you feel nausea, dizziness, or pain you stop and seek medical advice. I accept no liability whatsoever for any damages arising from the use of my podcasts and, while I make all reasonable efforts to share accurate instruction, the podcast may contain unintended errors. Before all else, listen to your body and trust your inner knowing.

Podcast Ep. 108: The Turtle (Yoga) Episode

It has been a while since I shared about my journey into wildlife rehabilitation and why I work with turtles. The story I tell was originally written for and shared with my interfaith seminary class last year. Then, you will be guided in a short, gentle yoga practice culminating in a long-held turtle yoga pose.

Registration is open for Shamanic Reiki Level Two virtual training on March 5 and 6, 2022. You can get more information and register on my training page.

Please visit http://dancingturtlerescue.org to learn more about my nonprofit turtle rescue.

If you like this podcast and would like me to keep recording new episodes, please visit my Patreon page and become a patron for as little as one dollar a month. When you do, you will have access to patron-only guided shamanic journeys to meet animal helping spirits and read posts about the animals’ symbolism and archetypal energy as well as the natural history and conservation challenges those animal face in their living incarnation. As you work with different animals, you connect more deeply with the natural world and may be inspired to advocate for one of the wild beings you resonate with.

If you would like to chat about this episode and connect with others who share your love for the wild beings, join the Shamanic Flow Circle group on Facebook and get the free Guide to Getting Real when you sign up for the email newsletter, which is full of moon magic and upcoming virtual events.

Much love and gratitude to Blair Sutherland for the beautiful intro and background music. Blair is also an outstanding webmaster and makes sure I can share these episodes with you. Thank you, Blair!

While the yoga and other practices presented are intended to be accessible to most, please be open to practicing in an appropriate and safe way for you. It is recommended that you consult your physician before beginning any new exercise program and that at any time during a practice you feel nausea, dizziness, or pain you stop and seek medical advice. I accept no liability whatsoever for any damages arising from the use of my podcasts and, while I make all reasonable efforts to share accurate instruction, the podcast may contain unintended errors. Before all else, listen to your body and trust your inner knowing.