Podcast Ep. 97: Elephant Yoga to Face Change

What endears me to Elephant Spirit is the way he puts his head down and charges, right into the wild holiness of change. In this episode you can embody Elephant energy in a grounded yet active practice with a few accessible challenges. Can you be steady and hold your focal point?

Get more information and register for the virtual Lughnasadh ceremony here.

If you like this podcast and would like me to keep recording new episodes, please visit the updated Patreon page and become a patron for as little as one dollar a month. When you do, you will have access to a new patron-only offering. Each month you can listen to an exclusive guided shamanic journey to meet an animal helping spirit and read posts about that animal’s symbolism and archetypal energy as well as the natural history and conservation challenges that animal faces in their living incarnation. You will work with a different animal each month as 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.

Helping Spirit Troubles: Get Lost, Bluebird (Part 2)

In my last post, I shared the challenges I encountered while trying to shamanically connect with the bluebird helping spirit I had been gifted. I did not give up and leave the Shamanic Reiki Master Practitioner training at Omega Institute and, as a result, I learned not to limit my shamanic experiences to journeys.

After the frustrating morning session and needing something to distract me from my funk, I visited Omega’s bookstore during our lunch break. The shopkeepers routinely gathered books into a featured section based on the programs that were happening that week, and they had grouped books about shamanism and animal totems on shelves near the front. I scanned through the spines but did not see anything of interest.

Then I looked up.

On top of the bookcase on a display rack was a book called Bird Medicine. Curious, I flipped it open to a page in the middle, one of a set of glossy pages of pictures. There, on the page that I had opened to, was a photograph of a bluebird, sitting on a branch. Like my helping spirit, it had only a crescent-shaped stripe of orange on the top of its chest.

I read the caption. It was a western bluebird. The full orange chest of the angry bluebird meme was an eastern bluebird. Living my whole life on the east coast of the United States, I would have had no opportunity to see a western bluebird. The same was true of my partner, yet it was the western bluebird that came in her journey for me.

I decided to buy the book so I could read the bluebird legend and other information after our afternoon session. I returned the display copy and looked through the shelves for the rest of them. There were no others. The copy I had held and opened to the photograph of my bluebird guide was the only copy in the store.

I purchased the book and got back to learning how to be a Shamanic Reiki Master Practitioner.

Since that day I have journeyed with my bluebird guide countless times. Bluebird is rarely invited; instead he shows up when I am trying to force my scattered mind to focus. When bluebird is hopping around in my journey space, I know it is a signal that I am not in the right frame of mind to journey. The best thing I can do is let it go, and instead tune in to my intuition as I move through very earthly pursuits for whatever messages I need to find.

Perhaps I will again find guidance while shopping.

Get Lost, Bluebird (Part 1)

I had never seen a bluebird outside of internet images and had developed an aversion to one particular “angry bluebird” that had become a meme. When I was given Bluebird as a helping spirit, I was not grateful.

I was staying at Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York, training in the Master Practitioner Level of Shamanic Reiki. Llyn Roberts, the founder and lead teacher of Shamanic Reiki, had given us an exercise – to find a partner and retrieve a spirit guide for the other. I had paired with a stranger, which was advantageous in avoiding our preconceived notions about each other influencing our choices. I journeyed on her behalf and, when I told her about the woman in the white robes who appeared to me, she seemed disappointed. Maybe that is why she cursed me with bluebird.

The bluebird she described was almost normal, as far as I knew. She told me she saw it sitting on a branch, and that it looked like every bluebird she had ever seen, except the orange did not cover its chest. Instead, it had just a crescent-shaped stripe of orange below its neck. I wrote what she told me in my journal and tried to be appreciative that she had given me a deformed bluebird to work with.

Our next exercise was to go on a shamanic journey and connect with our newly acquired helping spirit. I settled into the blanket-and-bolster “nest” I had created as my journey space and closed my eyes. I imagined the place in nature that is the starting place for my journey work. I invited bluebird to join me. Then – bam – I was gone. My mind whirred with thoughts that came so fast I could not catch any of them. I think I fell asleep, then woke up when the drumbeat changed to the callback rhythm, feeling angry. I had failed to connect with my bluebird.

As others in the group described wondrous experiences with their new guides, I sat seething. I left that morning’s session sure I was no good at this shamanic stuff and contemplated giving up and going home.

For me, the biggest challenge to developing a shamanic practice was my fear of being inadequate. Come back for the next post to read about what happened when I decided to stay and keep practicing.

 

Podcast Ep. : Yoga for Your Inner Spark

The spark of inspiration for this episode was Firefly Spirit. The cherished lightning bugs who created magical nights during my childhood are declining. Saving them will require a spark of out of the norm thinking. The yoga practice ignites your inner spark and channels Firefly with expansive and contractive movements that mimic the lightning bug’s flashes.

Register for the virtual Lughnasadh ceremony here.

If you like this podcast and would like me to keep recording new episodes, please visit the updated Patreon page and become a patron for as little as one dollar a month. When you do, you will have access to a new patron-only offering. Each month you can listen to an exclusive guided shamanic journey to meet an animal helping spirit and read posts about that animal’s symbolism and archetypal energy as well as the natural history and conservation challenges that animal faces in their living incarnation. You will work with a different animal each month as 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 Pilgrimage of Turtles

A recent study conducted in my state found that turtles in wetlands surrounded by busy roads were more likely to be males. This finding only confirmed what I and other turtle rehabilitators already knew – during the late spring, many female turtles are hit by cars during their annual pilgrimage to lay their eggs.

A pilgrimage is a journey, usually a long one, to a place that is sacred. Often the journey itself results in transformation of the traveler. People have been making pilgrimages since ancient times, such as on The Sacred Way from Athens to Eleusina, Greece. The famous Camino de Santiago, which leads to the tomb of St. James in northwest Spain, is walked by hundreds of thousands of people every year.

empty turtle eggs next to a hole in grass are the result of a turtle pilgimage

An old turtle nest with empty egg shells found on a recent hike in a protected wetland gives me hope there are some babies out there.

The turtle’s pilgrimage is shorter, by Camino de Santiago standards, but no less sacred. The destination is an ideal nesting spot, where she will bury her eggs, the hope for another generation of turtles.

As female turtles disappear, that hope is diminished.

For humans, travel has become easy. Most will hop in a car and drive more miles to pick up a pizza than a turtle will walk to her nest site. Roads crisscross the habitats of almost every species. Cars are faster than ever and filled with distractions. Relatively few of us will make a long journey to a sacred place, especially not by foot. Perhaps our lack of experience with sacred journeys is why we cannot see the turtle’s trip as an act of devotion.

If you asked me to explain divinity, I would tell you that what is divine is the impulse that keeps life “life-ing.” The turtles, and all other non-human beings, are devoted to life. It is innate, and probably is in humans too, and available if we can drop the religious constructs that squash our animal selves.

Most humans fail to see the turtle’s journey as sacred and, as a result, value pizza over her pilgrimage. That can cost the turtle her life.

There are things that can be done to make road crossings safer for turtles and other wildlife, such as green bridges and tunnels. Humans seem to lack an appetite, however, for spending money on those who will never be able to reciprocate.

When I recognized the turtle’s nesting walk as an act of sacred devotion, I made a pledge to help them. I even started a nonprofit organization to save turtles and their wetland habitats. But the needed work is really helping others to connect with what is sacred, so they will want to help too.

On July 19, 2021, Lori Ferry’, my HEARTH project co-director, and I will be guiding an online HEARTH Circle shamanic experience with the theme “The Sacred Way.” The online HEARTHs benefit the Olympic Mountain EarthWisdom Circle, an educational 501(c)(3) that promotes a sacred and responsible relationship with the Earth. For a small donation you can oin us live or listen to the replay afterwards. The HEARTH Circle is an opportunity to connect with the sacred and experience a shamanic pilgrimage.

Red Eft, Spiritual Nomad

red eft eastern newt on the ground under leavesThe red eft appeared from under some leaves and walked slowly down the hill towards the woods, seemingly oblivious to my presence. I shifted my gaze from the sapling that had been my meditation focal point to watch the eft. The bright red salamander stood out against the leaf litter, but the squirrels and chipmunks paid him no mind. By the time my meditation practice was complete, there was no longer any sign of him. He had disappeared under the leaves again.

The red eft is the juvenile stage of the eastern newt (Notophthalmus viridescens), an amphibian abundant in most of eastern North America. The eastern newt begins life as an aquatic, brownish green larva. After about three months, the larva sheds his gills, transforms into a bright orange sub-adult with darker red spots, and leaves the water. The red eft is a terrestrial traveler.

The day before I watched the red eft had been the closing of my first year of the One Spirit Interfaith Seminary program. During that day, we had each been asked to speak about our experience during the year. Still struggling to define my spirituality in a coherent way despite a year of study, I described myself as a spiritual nomad.

As spiritual practices go, wandering is not all that uncommon. Jesus wandered in the desert. Before enlightenment, Buddha wandered from place to place. There are countless examples of pilgrims and transients among followers of the world’s religious and spiritual traditions. In Shamanic Reiki, we are encouraged to aimlessly wander out on the land with an open heart and without an agenda, to connect with nature.

And yet I was embarrassed to admit I was still wandering through my spiritual life while I was supposed to be learning to minister to others. I wondered what my classmates and the deans and teachers thought of my wishy-washy approach to spiritual matters. Would I be judged “not good enough” next year?

That question was on my mind as the red eft came into sight and it did not take long to realize the significance of his appearance. This small being was not afraid to be bright and bold, and he embraced the nomad life. The eft may wander for two or three years until he figures out where he belongs and walks back into the water, where he will transform again into an aquatic adult eastern newt. He has to be sure he is in the right place, because he will call it home for the next decade. It is no wonder he sees all that he can before deciding.

As for me, I guess I will remain an eft as well, and figure out how to shine as a spiritual nomad.

You can wander with me when you follow my podcast. Subscribe in your favorite podcatcher or find past episodes here.

Podcast Ep. 95: Details About Patreon, Details In Yoga

This episode was inspired by Mouse Spirit, who is detail-oriented and focused on each kernel of abundance to be found. Mouse will take every opportunity, no matter how small or insignificant it seems, to find resources. The gentle supine yoga practice invites you to notice the subtle details of the poses and movements.

The shadow side of Mouse energy is a nit-pickiness that is probably procrastination, which is what I was doing when it came to the details of continuing the My Shamanic Life podcast. To keep this podcast going, I need to cover the hosting and publishing expenses. The associated Patreon was set up to help me raise some money for wildlife rehabilitation, but that is now its own nonprofit organization, Dancing Turtle Rescue and Education Program, Inc., with separate avenues for fundraising. The pandemic changed how I generate income, and I find myself unable to continue to fund the podcast, which will need more storage on the hosting site soon, without your help.

If you like this podcast and would like me to keep recording new episodes, please visit the updated Patreon page and become a patron for as little as one dollar a month. When you do, you will have access to a new patron-only offering. Each month you can listen to an exclusive guided shamanic journey to meet an animal helping spirit and read posts about that animal’s symbolism and archetypal energy as well as the natural history and conservation challenges that animal faces in their living incarnation. You will work with a different animal each month as 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 the details of 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.

When I Dance With Bear in Journeys

In my shamanic journey world, there is a large cave. The entrance looks like a crack in a cliff wall until I walk close. It is at the edge of the meadow where I find an old, twisting, and wise tree.

The interior of the cave is wide and round. The ceiling domes but I can easily stand tall, even near the walls. The rough rock walls of the cave provide shelves of a sort, and alcoves, where I find books and trinkets, some left by me during earlier journeys, some appearing as if gifted by an unknown benefactor. There are bundles of drying herbs hanging from the lower parts of the ceiling, and torches burn at regular intervals to provide light.

In the center of the cave floor, there is a fire. I never have to tend it; the fire is always burning brightly when I arrive. Soft rugs, furs, and cushions ring the fire, inviting me to sit and feel the warmth of the flames. The fire has a sweet or spicy smell, depending on the herbs that have been added.

I encourage everyone whose journeys I guide to find their cave, because I have found that within my cave I receive the most potent messages from my helping spirits. The cave is a place of comfort, of knowledge, and of healing, and around the fire is where I find my council.

brown bear

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

My council is the collective of helping spirits with whom I have been cultivating a relationship during my years of shamanic practice. The members present during a journey change depending on the questions I have or the advice I am seeking, but two are almost always waiting for me at the fire. One is an old woman dressed in the remains of a dress of blues and greys that brings the ocean to mind. The other is a dancing bear.

While other guides meet me elsewhere, I have never seen the large brown bear outside of the cave. I have also never seen him sit. When I arrive at the fire he is standing on his back legs, and usually already lost in a rhythmic dance with the beat of the journey drum. He wears a red belt with long fringe that makes me think of a Native American powwow belt but isn’t quite that.

Often, Bear will continue to dance as I sit in council with other guides that are present, being a somewhat silly distraction from the messages I am trying to make sense of. Every so often, however, Bear will stop and open his front legs wide, inviting me into a hug, then holding me so I have to join the dance.

Bear has never said a word during our times at the fire in the cave. Instead of giving me direction, he is my emotional support helping spirit. The offering of a hug comes when I brought my emotions into the journey space, and I might bury my face in his fur and cry. The embrace is gentle, warm, and soothing.

Dancing with Bear is a different kind of emotional release. Bear holds my back with one paw and my hand with the other, and shakes his hips side to side as we circle the fire together. The wiggling hips always make me giggle. I’ve noticed Bear asks me to dance when I am being overly serious, or impatient with my guides.

When I dance with Bear, I feel I have been reset. When I leave the cave and make my way back to the mundane world, I remember the feeling of being held, hugged, and danced around the fire, and I smile.

Sign up for my newsletter and join me for journeys every new and full moon. Contact me for more information.

Podcast Ep. 94: Shapeshift Into Action

In this episode’s practice you will be guided to shapeshift into an animal helping spirit, but the real magic comes when you act on behalf of your helping spirit’s physical presence on Earth. Join me in getting real about some collective spiritual bypassing I witnessed and shapeshift your mystical experiences into action.

If you would like to chat about this episode or learn more about yoga, Shamanic Reiki, wildlife conservation, or other ways you can bring healing to all the beings on our beautiful planet Earth, join the Shamanic Flow Circle group on Facebook and get the free Guide to Getting Real when you sign up for the newsletter.

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. 93: Yoga with Hyena Energy

Hyena must have been laughing at me when I sat down to record this podcast episode, because I struggled to find something to say. While the yoga practice does not reflect all that the adaptable hyena can teach about leadership and communication, it will get you moving with some standing heart openers. May you discover the courage to speak your heart’s truth.

If you would like to chat about this episode or learn more about yoga, Shamanic Reiki, wildlife conservation, or other ways you can bring healing to all the beings on our beautiful planet Earth, join the Shamanic Flow Circle group on Facebook and get the free Guide to Getting Real when you sign up for the newsletter.

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.