Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The path of effort as shamanic initiation

I enjoy reading back issues of Shaman's Drum, reading articles that did not hold my attention initially, but now give me new learning, because I have changed in my spiritual awareness since my first meeting of their authors and ideas. An article called Beautiful Painted Arrow's Sun Moon Dance, by Marsha Scarbrough, in number 79, 2009, contained such a teaching. I came upon this quote:

[Joseph Rael] talked about the importance of the path of effort. To achieve supernatural power,
you must choose to do things the most difficult way. Once you've achieved it, Spirit takes care of you, and things become effortless.
I think I am very good at choosing the path of effort. I do not think this means choosing difficulty with human relationships, or indulging in the drama that makes situations difficult; I think this means choosing to do what one is told by spiritual guidance, no matter how arduous or cumbersome the task. Creating the Journey Oracle was such a path of effort. Painting the cards , writing the stories, and determining how to use the two together for revelation took 16 years. And of course such a statement says very little about the frustration, and elation, and determination involved in such an enterprise.

What I realize now, about this path of effort that leads to effortlessness, is that it mostly requires trust and perserverance. This is just like the fairy tale: The Death of Koschei the Deathless, in the Red Fairy Book, edited by Andrew Lang. Prince Ivan keeps returning to steal away his sweetheart, the Princess Marya Morevna, even though he knows Koschei intends to cut him to pieces, and the Baba Yaga intends to put his head on a spike. It only matters to be with his beloved, now that he has found her. This is the path of effort: to choose the most difficult way. And so to be initiated into beauty.