The Dark Side of the Shaman

Shamanism is not for the weak. Nor is it something one dabbles in. Shamanism is a spiritual path that one takes because they are called. And once called, and you accept, it’s not always a bright shining path. People see me now and they think “wow you have such great energy” ~ but it took awhile for me to get there. And a LOT of darkness and loss along the way.

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For a very long part of my life, I suffered from severe anxiety and deep depression.  I struggled to “fit in” ~ and not on a social level. On an every day I live level. I always liken it to feeling like I was a visitor on Earth, someone on the outside looking in. An observer. It wasnt until I was in my twenties and started meeting people of like mind that I started to feel “normal.”  In any case, meeting like-minded people, continuing my spiritual studies and finally finding Shamanism….I started to…..unravel.

From December 2011 to March 2014, my depression and anxiety got worse. In fact, I was having frequent panic attacks and my depression was so bad that I would spend days on end sleeping, crying and not eating. Sometimes not going to work for days. I found little joy in things, though I was able to put on a smile when I had to. I eventually ended up seeing a therapist and going on medication. IT was the ONLY way I could function. I am not, against medication when needed to HELP you see clearer. While digging my shoes deeper into the path of the Shaman, I began to loosen the strings and ties that had held me down for so long. It was a dark and scary. I had to acknowledge deep pain — emotional, spiritual, mental and physical. Barriers I set up a long time ago to protect myself. Pain I didn’t want to acknowledge. Past hurts. Present hurts. Things about myself that made me not a good person. It was like standing in front of a bunch of fun house mirrors and seeing myself warp into different people–yet remaining the same. So many layers of skin shed away. Things I thought I wanted and needed—I realized were a lie.

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As the weights slowly came off, the depression lifted. And while there was still a fog around me, I was able to see a bit clearer…..I was finding out WHO I was and WHAT I wanted….Because of that, I started losing people close to me….Phone calls stopped. Emails stopped. Chats stopped. People I considered family simply vanished from my life. I  was okay with that. They were there for whatever time they were meant to be there. I know that now, though at the time, it felt like my world was shattering. I got divorced and realized the things I needed in a relationship were not just things based purely on the idea of love. My perceptions of relationships, love and friendship changed.

I quite literally, became a whole new person.

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Shamanism is not an easy path. It’s a path that forces you to accommodate the LIGHT and THE DARK. I always explain to those interested in the Shamanic path…that you are like an ocean: you have your deep dark parts and your clear sparkling parts–the catch is being able to allow the two parts to flow together not apart–they are not separate. These two worlds, the dark and light, must be constantly fluid. Moving together.

As I began my career as a Shamanic Reiki Practitioner, more things came to “light” — more gifts opened up that once again forced me to look at myself. I had to learn how to deal with my new abilities and deepening intuition. I had to again, deal with the light and darkness that resides not only in the world around me, but in myself. Friends came and went, relationships changed…..But I went with the flow.

Being a Shaman is about becoming a master of the balance of light and dark.

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Wrap Yourself in Coils: You Are NOT A Healer

I have been guilty of it myself. I have let it slip in the heat of the moment. “I am a healer.”

 Well, no…I am not actually a healer—and neither is anyone else who uses that phrase. We are conduits for healing energy. Like a giant Tesla coil, we allow the forces (Universal Energy, God Energy whatever you want to call it) to flow through us for the benefits of healing. It’s a gift from The Universe. It was The Universe (or Creator if you will) that is allowing you to be the instrument of healing. Gifts are given and can easily be taken away.

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Maybe it’s my years of practicing Earth based magick and religions. Years of working with various Deities in various forms. Truth is, what is given can be taken away. If The Universe feels you are abusing that what is granted-it can just as easily be abstracted from you.

Sadly, I have met a lot of conduits of healing energy who taught the “I am a healer” phrase—who use it as a means of projecting some form of supremacy over someone else. You are not a healer. You are merely a channel—nothing more.

The Mystical Urban Shaman

I am a bit tired of hearing about people who try the one up card. You know those people: I studied with so and so and therefore I am way better than you will ever be.

Seriously? I hear that a lot in the “healer” community. Which is a bit ironic……..Or the “teacher” who is only out there for selfish reasons- to have groupies and followers- in which breeds the seeds of negative energy which gets passed on and on and on and one………

I get that a lot with “shamans”…..So let me just empty my brain.

Just remember–the further you go–the less you know.

A shaman in essence, is one who walks between the worlds. I journey when I do my intuitive work and during a reiki session. Shamanic reiki consists of doing a shamanic journey in conjunction with the reiki. Anyone can journey—it just takes patience and time…..lots of time….And it doesn’t mean that you necessarily need to practice NATIVE AMERICAN shamanism to be a Shaman.  Work with what connects to you. Ironically, even though I am a quarter Native American—not all aspects of Native American shamanism resonate with me. I take bits of Aboriginal, African and Native American shamanism when I work. I know people who connect with Nordic Shamanism or Celtic Shamanism.

The word shaman is simply Siberian for–“one who sees in the dark.”

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We are just idiot humans with a vision of what a Shaman should look like—A wild lone man living in a cave with no clothes, ratty hair and bones around his neck? Or a head full of feathers tossing animal bones to read……..Humans are narrow minded in the world of words, imagery and symbols.

It’s IMPOSSIBLE now, for people to find a Shamanic teacher.  And classes that offer you the idea of the instantaneous shamanic journey are rolling in money over something that takes years and practice. I was recently speaking to a client who attended a 3 day long Intro to Shamanism class. Of course they “taught” students how to journey—and explained they would be able to journey by the end of the session—and then could “graduate” to the next 3 day long $$$$ workshop. During the 3 day workshop, the teachers asked students what they saw on journeys, etc. All the students had something to say—except him. He didn’t experience anything. After the three day workshop was over and he was speaking to his other classmates, he asked them “did you actually see all those things?”—in which most of them said, “no” or “I just said I did because I didn’t want the teacher to feel bad.”

Shamanic journeying—is liken to meditation. The practitioner needs to be able to pull themselves from this “reality” into another. And like meditation, you can’t learn it in a three day workshop. To be a shamanic practitioner does not require certification. We don’t live in a society where you can study with a Shaman or are “chosen” by the Elders in your tribe. We live in a world of urban shamanism. Every human being has the ability to be a Shaman. It’s about accessing and using all of your senses including your 6th sense. By not using them, we destroy that one gift handed to us by our ancestors—the ability to be able to help others by accessing a Divine Source of Power within us. But with that takes the understanding and the knowledge that to become a shaman doesn’t mean taking a few workshops, classes, etc. I used to think that. I used the think you had to take classes, study with a group, spend a crap load of money, find a “guru”, and go on retreats. Then one day I realized, I have been preparing for where I am at this moment in my life since I was 13.

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I started my journey when I was 13. I studied Witchcraft, Gnosticism, Ceremonial Magick, Egyptian Magick, the Kabbalah, Buddhism — you name it I have studied it at some point in my life. My extensive book collection will show you—and I can point how old I was when I started!  I have also heavily studied ancient mythologies from around the planet as well as the anthropological and historical religious teachings of various tribes from around the world.  I was involved in three esoteric groups and then was in a ceremonial Magick/alternative religion group for 10 years where I got initiated and got my name “Zehara” from. Yes of course I took some classes on the way, got certificates in Metaphysical studies and herbology (even though I had long since been using herbs to make mojo bags, teas, incense) and got my reiki attunements. The nice thing about Shamanism and reiki is that you work with what suits YOU. In essence creating your own version of Shamanism and Reiki. I use almost everything I have learned in the past 20 years since I started my journey into my practice now—from casting a circle to reciting a mantra to banish negative energy. It’s like I have been blessed with a large and extensive kitchen full of ingredients to make the most magical delicious healing work.

And Shamanism is a moment by moment thing. I try explaining that to people who ask me. What was given to you by the Higher Power, which I refer to as The Universe, can just as easily be taken away. You don’t own it. You are allowed to have it to help others but it’s not yours.

I like to refer to myself as a practitioner—not a healer…Clients are the healers—I am just the middle man-the initiator. Clients heal themselves—I just give them a boost. Shamanic journeying is like day dreaming—for me anyway. I don’t like the term of “non ordinary” reality. When I journey I am in reality—I just use all my senses. I am in a different state of mind—I “see” things which exist outside the scope of what we call “normal reality.”

Think of journeying like dreaming—it’s the same thing, but you are awake. You see things in dreams that don’t make much sense, but are meant to be taken symbolically. When I see a deer during a journey-it means a few things.

  1. It’s the clients totem
  2. Deer represent gentleness—hence, perhaps the client needs to be more gentle to themselves

I guess my point here is that, anyone can be a shaman, with respect to the understanding that you realize it’s a special gift The Universe is allowing you to have—and at any moment-take it away. It also requires patience and an understanding that being able to “see in the dark” takes time.

And yes, study. Read whatever you can get your hands on. Network. Meet people. And be open minded. Our world is not the only one. There are multi universes you can access once you are able to journey. And ignore the one uppers……they have a lot of work to do.

The “M” Word

I am an intuitive empath—-and a sensitive…

No I am not “sensitive” in the sense that I take things personally. I use the word sensitive instead of the word “medium.”

There is a lot of misconceptions around mediums and I don’t like using the word. And its a part of my job that I do not participate in.

Why? I have a gift to communicate with the dead? I always have. Since I was a teenager, when I was really able to “tap” into the other side, I was always able to communicate with people who crossed over. And I was always able to prove it. Like when a an who died in Salem in the 1600’s came to me (and my family members in attendance). Not only did we later find his stone in Salem, MA….but we also discovered his death records in the library archive and were able to prove that he did, in fact, communicate. He is now one of my spirit guides (yes Nathaniel that is for you!)–or he always was but wanted to prove to me he existed!

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Later,  I developed a gift for automatic writing. Where you allow a spirit to enter you and communicate through writing. I did of course–“dabble”— with the Quija board–which I do not recommend–EVER..After several scary incidents,including one in which a spirit or spirits managed to knock a bird cage over, knocked candles on the ground and the bird died the next day..all witnessed by others…..my 1965 Quija board is now locked away  But, with a ll that said, I could always tell when someone wanted to communicate. My mother, grandmother and aunts all have the ability. Dreams, feelings. They all know when someone from the other side wants to talk.

When I was 17, my cousin and my mother were in one room using the Quija board, while I was in the other doing automatic writing. Something did not feel right–at all. The spirit was writing a mile a minute and I felt like he was grabbing my arm so damn hard it took all I could to make him get out….At the same time, he was communicating via the board and my cousin pulled back and said enough. We both got the same message from the same spirit. He died violently and was PISSED. That was when I decided to not ever do that kind of work again.

But as a sensitive, you don’t just “stop” ~ spirits come to you in dreams, in the middle of the day, before they cross over…I see and feel them–and occasionally hear them. Orbs appear in my home on a frequent basis. I feel energy shifts around people who have lost someone. I stay clear away from funerals. While I have been able to hone my ability better—and tell them to leave me alone–there are always those that like to know I “see” them.

In 2005 when a friend died, I saw and communicated with her…and I told her mother. Her mother’s response was “why you and not me.” And that broke my heart.

I dont know why. Things just happen. When a friend commited suicide, I communicated with him..but who could I tell? No one. I let it be.

When I do reiki sessions on clients, relatives will show up. Friends show up. But II tell them I can not pass on messages for them. Its not that I don’t want to give the client the message–to let them know their loved one is ok. Sometimes, I will just say “does so and so mean anything to you,” and leave it at that.

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Its because being a sensitive brings on  A LOT more responsibility — you are now the “medium” between the living and the dead. And it breaks my heart when I see grieving person who desperately wants to hear those words form their loved one who or wants to see what I see but cant.  Some see that as blessing. I know, without a doubt, this world is not the end all….Being a shaman — a “walker between worlds” I know this. I knew that before I could journey or astral travel.

Its a part of my job I do not allow myself to actively participate in. When the dead come through, I tell them, nicely, to go away.

And sometimes its painful for me to do so because I feel that it is part of my duty–but I cant bear to see more heart break on those who have lost someone.

Rather, I empower them. Speak to your loved one. They hear you. They see you. They feel you. You don’t need people like me to tell you they love you and care. Nor do you need people like me to be the “m word” — you have the ability to have that direct contact. It just takes and open heart and the ability to listen.

I use my intuition for other things…..the spirits are welcome, they just have their boundaries.