An Initiation Story, Part 1

436px-Durian_-_Shaman

Too much going on and too much time has passed to try to give you a linear account of what happened.

So I’ll tell the story in a way that makes sense, though the events may not have occurred in exact chronological order.

Time is an illusion anyway.  Not a linear progression, but a cycle.

Back to thinking positive.

Couldn’t do it 24/7, but every time I made a conscious effort, my mood improved.  Then something would happen that would awaken my fear and I’d have to start all over again.

I kept reasoning with myself, telling myself that if my own thoughts were creating the conditions for my mental environment, then there’s no reason not to create the most kick-ass mental environment possible, filling it with love, possibility, and strength.

Somehow, I got drawn back into reading about shamanism.  Ran a Google search on “shamanic illness” and read just about every link that came up on the first page.

“Is that what I am?” I prayed to my spirits.  “Is that what’s happening to me?  Is that why I got inexplicably ill all those years ago, the illness that has triggered the bat-shit-crazy trajectory that I’ve been on ever since?”

I ran through the symptoms, comparing them to my own experiences.  Some things overlapped, some didn’t.

“Is this what I am?” I prayed.

You’re something else.

I needed a staff.

When I meditate, I imagine myself holding a staff of some kind to help balance the energy.

I needed a real-life staff.

I went to Red Rock Canyon and found an old tree branch that had been burned during a fire.  The branch was too long, and splintered at one end.  It would have made a great trident.  But I’m no Greek hero; I’m just some guy who’s also something else.

I cut the trident in half and turned it into a prayer stick.

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I made a crude carving of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life into its side.  I didn’t carve all 32 paths.  Just enough to satisfy me for the time being.

Speaking of trees, I started speaking to the tree in the backyard.

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It didn’t have a lot to say at first – just sounded like a bunch of clicks and buzzing.  But when I stuck with it long enough, I could hear it saying, “Life, life, life, LIFE, LIFE, LIFE!! LIFE!!!!!!!!!!”

Years ago, I bought a djembe drum when I was visiting South Africa.

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Been using that too, singing spontaneous songs of power in languages I don’t quite know.

Had a dream in which I was holding a quartz crystal in my hand, and I heard a voice reciting William Blake’s famous line:

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And Heaven in a Wild Flower.
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.

Went into the garage, pulled out an old box, took it up into my room, and opened it.  Inside were all the spiritual tools I’ve collected over the years, and used to employ frequently:  quartz crystals, stones of power, necklaces, holy books.  Made me feel like an old warrior coming out of retirement, opening up his suitcase full of old weapons from his past.

I pulled out two quartz crystals…

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…and left everything else.

Glad I did so.  One day, I had a real bad day.  No energy, falling into depression.  Heard an inner voice say, “Put on your necklace.”  I did so, and immediately my spirits lifted.

Then I got the urge to make a rattle.

Surfed the net, looking for instructions on how to make one out of a gourd.  Bought one, carved it out, stuck it in an oven at a little under 200 degrees for 12 hours, poured some rice into it, and duck-taped it together.

Presto!  Rattle!

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Yeah, I know.  To quote Han Solo, “she may not look like much but she’s got it where it counts.”

Started drawing, stream-of-consciousness-style. Had no idea what I was drawing, and didn’t care.  Just needed to get it out.  It wasn’t until I was finished that I could see what it was.

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“Man Reaching For the Inner Light”

Often when I pray, I imagine myself reaching for a source of power and goodness that is outside of myself, that can counteract the chaos within.

What I’m reaching for is actually originating from inside of me.  The chaos within me, when it is brought into harmony, becomes the light.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:14-16

“If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.”  – Gospel of Thomas 70

All this time, I’ve been trying to snuff my light out for fear that it would drive me crazy.

The truth is, I’m being driven crazy BECAUSE I’ve been trying to snuff out that light.

Why, oh why, this preoccupation with, this terrible fear of madness?

“A man needs a little madness or else…he never dares cut the rope and be free.”

It’s no wonder I haven’t landed on firm ground.  Up till now, I’ve had no real conviction.  Claiming to hold certain values, yet constantly folding under the pressure of adversity.

I gathered these tools together.  I’ve listened to promptings of my dreams.  And I called out to the spirits.

I asked them to take me back under their tutelage.  I acknowledged that my refusal to integrate everything that I’ve been taught so far has led to my arrested spiritual development.  My inability to be vulnerable and extend my love to others is slowly killing me.

“You used to visit me once, ” I prayed to them.  “You used to speak clearly to me in the twilight hours.  Visit me again, my brothers and sisters.  Help me.  I’m ready to listen.  I’m ready to learn how to love.”

Thus I prayed, and  went to bed.

And that night, the spirits came.

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