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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.

 

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.

Animal Spirits – totems for heart chakra work

The heart chakra, Anahata, spins with the energy of love, joy, and harmony. If your heart chakra is feeling out of balance, by journeying to one of these animal spirits you can gain insight and guidance to make your heart happy.

hummingbird in flight

Image by skeeze from Pixabay

The joyful nature of Hummingbird invites you to find your own inner happiness. In Hummingbird’s quest for the sweetest of experiences, he playfully spreads joy and love. Hummingbird is linked to the healing power of plants, and reminds you there is powerful beauty everywhere.

 

Deer in tall grass

Image by Lubos Houska from Pixabay

Gentle, peaceful Deer epitomizes the energy of the heart chakra. Anahata, which means “unstruck,” is pure love, untarnished and untraumatized by any worldly goings on. Like an innocent child, Deer is offers only unconditional love, without judgement or condemnation. Call on Deer to learn to be sensitive, compassionate, and, at times, courageous. (“Courage,” after all, comes from the Latin word for “heart.”)

 

Dove on a cherry tree


Image by Susann Mielke from Pixabay

Long a symbol of peace and love, Dove flies in when your heart needs healing. Dove’s qualities are diplomacy and gentleness. Dove soothes grief, the wound of this chakra. Dove also symbolizes faith, and her energy can be accessed through Bhakti Yoga, the practice of joyful devotion.

 

Antelope in the wild

Image by Bishnu Sarangi from Pixabay

Antelope is associated with Anahata in yoga philosophical symbology. While the horns suggest the rising of spiritual consciousness, the soft eyes remind you to be guided by compassion. Antelope brings empathy, grace, and atonement to your heart chakra work. He invites you to free yourself from your emotional blocks, and comes with the message that you are loved.