Tales of power/Shaman or Sorcerer
Crystal Seeds of Zion

We must give thanks for that which strengthens us. When it comes to sacred traditions, the same applies. For many of us in the White culture it is difficult to find our way and to embrace our heritage. The wisdom of the Vedas, or of Native Elders or various other traditions celebrated in our country are able to feed our soul fires when we learn to be thankful for the part they play in nourishing us in our paths of growth and fullness. Perhaps they are there to remind us that it is not our path but it still may be a path that is well worn and proven for others, yet there may be signs or symbols that actuate seed memories that we can learn to sprout when the season or time is right.

   In the ways of these older traditions often we find a process that has been in place for a long time, where elders or spirit guides are accessed to keep one on the path of self or to alert one that may have strayed into parts unknown or areas that trigger deeply hidden fears. For many of us Rainbow Children, who hold vague memories of other times and still smell the smolder of the ceremonial fires, we find that this world of vast technologies and designed wonders rings hollow in its wisdom and ultimately leads away from the path with a heart. This can easily lead to a sense of disconnection from the outer world, as riches, fame and glory pale beside the rich textures of deep memory that stirs our dreams.

   So often we seek affirmation in things outside of ourselves. Sometimes it is wondrous synchronicity that hearkens us like the call of the raven, to pay attention to now and to be of this moment that only always is. Other times it is forms of distraction that pull us from our center. That is part of the path we walk upon! What is essential is to BE, to recognize where your power lies and to know your heart path. For many people this is too difficult and is easily forgotten or overlooked. There is an immensity of information and it is increasing in an exponential way as the forms of communication have now connected continents and hemispheres. But what of our own two hemispheres? When will we seek the silence that unites us and brings us peace and tranquility?

   For me the path has not been direct and for most this is the way of the world and perhaps part of the truth of why we are where we are. To me there has been a choice that has been there for many years and one that asks me where my power lies and how to connect to it and still live in service to this world. It could be seen as a choice between shaman or sorcerer.  Both, indeed are paths of power, and that is what makes this recognition so mystifying. Dark nights of the soul, sufferings and sickness, healings and the beauty of moments all color the canvass of experience. Those of us with families are presented with years of observation, contemplation and often times of action. It is not an easily understood lesson to release those we love, so that they can walk their talk, stumble, and fall and also surmount the difficulties along the way.

    A sorcerer can be the coyote, an entertainer, or a magician or one who has mastered certain abilities and is able to display and utilize those abilities that would pull others this way and that, and yet for them allows opportunities to arise. Not unlike the warrior’s path, they have learned to use the navel, tan tien or solar plexus as a source of power and a way to sway opinion, distract from concentration and utilize others power to display their own abilities.

They have excelled in their trainings and often attain positions in the world that hold power over others, or powers that others seek.

   The shaman sometimes can be seen in much the same way to those who have been disenfranchised from their own hearts path. The medicine of the shaman is often a mystery or a mysterious process and for many this blurs the lines between these two traditions. For me, however, there is a distinction that is often more easily understood through the wisdom of the elders. Outward displays of power are not so obvious when the quest for position is not outwardly displayed. Yet, there has also been a choice or transitioning away from paths that were found to not have a heart. The shamanic tradition has warmed my heart. It’s learned wisdom is of the heart indeed! It seeks not control of others but also recognizes that there are no accidents or coincidences, and when the Great Spirit or God or Higher Self acts or speaks through them, they give thanks. Yet with all things, there is no simple dividing line, no ascertainable duality that simplifies our choices, each and every day or moment. We all find the fork in the road. We meet Hecate at these crossroads each day as we open or close our eyes. It is humbling for me to realize how often we seek some type of affirmation of being right, of being appreciated for the path we have chosen to walk upon. Still it is in the moments of silence, wherein the path to or away from the heart is illuminated.

   Too often, when sharing thoughts, ideas, or feelings we look again for like-mindedness, instead of acceptance. We lure others to our caves of comfort, into our ways of understanding, to make ourselves feel connected and to feel that we are of value. We also desire that others recognize our ways and understand that we have grown and learned to love and understand one another. Yet, again, it is in the quiet hours of darkness, times we have awakened in fear or anxiety, or out of a need for prayer, that we find ourselves, our true selves and our struggles. It is then we have the strength of surrender or see the shame we hide by the light of day.

   It is the mirror of our soul that shows us the thousand faces of life that is each and all our own. All truth is simple, but there are no simple ways for most of us in this world. The ascetic path, the mystical worlds we can hear or read about are not available as we succumb to schedules and routines and often we do not see the opportunities for true change. I have done ceremony both in groups and alone, have experiences that run round and round the wheel of life, and I have come to understand that wisdom that has learned to forgive others and especially myself, for the assumptions of easy truths, or the justification of actions that often end differently than one would expect. I have learned to give thanks in my heart for the truth of my own path.

   I can be an example in this world, of the world I seek to be a part of, and to be the change that I also seek to see in the world, yet also realize that I cannot make my loved ones choose those things that bring me comfort, or that I desire for them to be or become. That path is not easy at times and it too has its pitfalls, stones to align or stumble upon. In the end I understand that which is left, is ourselves, myself, and so I choose to do that which feels right inside of me. That is a path with heart! I realize that life is not perfect and that my choices may also not always be perfect and I have come to truly understand that this is why I am here. To learn to be content with what I have and the choices I have made. The ceremonies I have done with others have been very powerful at times and at other times have been no more than a gathering of egos with no group intention. Both are medicine and both are about growth and healing.

For me it is the ceremony I do alone that is important for my soul’s growth. Learning to surrender to honesty and to be humbled has brought rewards, as much as the failure to recognize opportunities to growth has also been valuable lessons. In many ways my work in the world has been learning to realize that there are many choices to be made and many opportunities to return to the same simple choice of letting my mind, brain, intellect or heart choose.

   It could be seen at times as distinct as a centripetal or centrifugal force. A creative or destructive cycle of awareness that includes the acceptance of lessons that repeat themselves ‘til learned, and even then, keep repeating over anyway…So in short, I choose the shamanic path in a world that has forgotten its meaning or has sensationalized and glorified its image. Even now as an elder by age I come to recognize that I need to seek clarity. I need to evaluate the choices I make from multiple perspectives.

   The challenge of finding like-minded folks, loving groups of well-intentioned individuals is not always readily available. For me it is the interactions of the moment, the one on ones, that quicken my heartbeat. That is when I soar or stumble, while making the choices that are presented in those moments to find a common ground of assisting other folks and continuing my own forward progressions. I surround myself with objects of power, tools for healing, crystals and gemstones etc., and try to remember that their power is a mirror of my own power. In and of themselves, they become, like all things, tools or weapons…..a sorcerer uses and a shaman fuses, but even that simple dialogue or duality is only the surface of a reflecting pool.

   There are times I feel tired and feel the weariness of this lifelong journey, and then there are times I feel that all the preparations, the long list of lessons, the dead ends and empty vessels, have all led to this moment now. It is in that moment I am thankful to be awake, thankful to know that now is what is truly important. Each step forward becomes a prayer to Father Sky and Mother Earth, and this place in my heart where we meet, greet, and sit awhile in ceremony, in service and in song.

 

   I cannot always make my desires come to pass for others or even myself. That is when the silence heals me. Each time a need to heal comes into my life, thru sickness, dissent, selfishness or a need for possession, I am one step closer to remembering why I have come to this Earth school. The student becomes the teacher by recognizing both faces that are within. I am thankful for music in my life, for birdsong and the babbling brook. I am graced with periods of calm abiding and then again my heart pounds as I awaken at night, amidst disquieting dreams, or even worse, not knowing where I have been in dreams, or to be fearful for finances or the struggles of my children or grandchildren. Then, with crystals in hand or over heart or third eye, I am quieted again to realize that all this is the path I have chosen.

All of life speaks to us, though certainly not in a language most are used to hearing.  And no creatures or persons communicate more personally, bodily, relevantly or poignantly than one’s totems.

When practiced with intense awareness and uncompromised honesty, the plant totem quest and realization can be a functional method and means for increased self-knowledge and self-actualization, inter-species alliance, and growth, a system or partnership which can result in a more effective herbal practice, improved learning, and teaching, and a new or heightened commitment to a purpose beyond the narrow, predictable, conformist, mundane and unsatisfying.

We use a comparison chart of botanical designs and attributes to positively identify a new plant we discover.  A totem is a way to “key-out” our authentic personalities and personas, to help distinguish the pretend from the genuine, projection and spin from understanding and wisdom.  It can provide us with another way to see ourselves, and to honor ourselves as we would honor the most powerful and significant of all the plant species to ever come into our lives.

Every plant, every creature, lives to serve itself and contribute to its ecosystem, with an intrinsic value and evolved roles irrespective of any service it ever provides to you or your kind, your culture or the herbal practice and field.  That said, a totem can serve to personify, inform, mirror, model, connect, inspire, and initiate.

Seeking out one’s totem is a deliberate and sometimes lengthy process, not like giving job interviews to strangers, but more like rediscovering something that had all along been integral to their selves and lives.   I’ve heard people say they didn’t feel like they had vetted and selected their beloved spouse so much as fortuitously or even magically “reunited” with their “soul mate,” that after years of searching for a partner they’d finally “gotten out of the way” of whatever destiny or process that then brought them together.  They may feel they have found or been given the one person who could be their ideal partner in struggle and growth, bliss and purpose.  Similarly, we can methodically search from among our encyclopedia of plants, in yard and wilderness for years without luck, or – through a combination of our heightened awareness and kind synchronicity – feel we’ve been led to or visited by the one species that best serves as our totem.

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