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.
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.
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