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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.

 

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.

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