Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What to do with a lucky penny

Recently my friend Ann Mortifee gave me a lucky penny. We were in a crowded restaurant at the end of the tourist season here on Cortes Island, and midst the beet salad and views of Desolation Sound, she dramatically reached across the table and placed a penny in my palm, declaring this was a lucky penny that would bring me good luck and good fortune. Ann pointed to a beautiful necklace of silver rings she was wearing, from which dangled a penny. The necklace was from her mother, she said, and the penny came from a friend who offered her in jest a penny he had just found. She chose to receive the penny with a full sense of honor and serious purpose. I could have thought her gesture was silly and the sentiment old-fashioned, but I chose to believe her statement: this is my lucky penny.

I asked my friend Irene Blueth of Silver Sea Jewelry to to honor my penny by setting it in silver so I could keep it close by wearing it. I also have a necklace my mother gave me, but instead of planished silver, it is a steel or tin chain hung with plastic circles that my mother brought back from a trip to India many years ago; the sort of token thrown by street performers during a festival. I could have accepted the necklace was cheap and undignified to wear, but I chose to believe this gift from my mother has been waiting a long time to be received.

In this time of great change, I can choose to be in fear and disappointment, or I can choose to be in love and generosity. I can believe that my work toward spiritual fulfillment is joy, or just work. I can believe that I am too small to help others, or I can believe that my artful effort is big enough to turn the tide. I am choosing to believe in my lucky penny, and I am wearing the Queen like the Queen that I am.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

shamanic counseling fees

How to set my shamanic counseling fees is always a dilemma of need vs. want. For both the client and myself, I want my oracle card readings, shamanic mentoring and dream work sessions to be accessible, yet I need a fee schedule that honors my skill in entering the spirit realms, enabling that world to do the work of this world. I also want those folks who most need spirit-filled guidance--young adults, parents, elders, those who are struggling with hard times and hard choices--to be empowered by this clarity without the limitations imposed by lack of financial resources. I asked the Journey Oracle for a reading about how to balance these needs and wants. This oracle card is of the Celtic tree month Birch, which encompasses the time from late December until mid-January. My first impression of the Oracle's answer is that this time is metaphorically the bones of the year. Bare branches rattle in the wind that sends achingly cold fingers into pockets and tucks chins into coat collars. This is the time when, if we live a rural life, we gather inside around a wood stove to visit, share stories, and eat apple crisp made from the fall harvest. This is the true time of the Oracle, and of looking deeply within. I therefore believe this image and its question applies to me more than those who come to me.

I see a woman swimming in a sea of yellow empowerment and blue seeking, carrying her heart before her head. Above her flows the red passion and orange attraction of the dreamtime snakes, swimming with her in a flowing stream toward the side of intuition and revelation. This image is confirming of my skills in helping others access through me the spirit guidance they seek.

But the question is also significant and provoking. When I am mostly giving away my skill--creating work trades that don't quite get finished, allowing sessions to go over time but only asking for the original rate, accommodating my energy to the schedules of others--I am making situations where I am not getting to finish my story.

I was recently told by a stone that they were "helping me compete against time for honoring." I don't yet know what that means, but I do think it means I must begin by honoring myself.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The spiritual meaning of doorknobs

Several years ago a man gave me a doorknob as partial payment for some shamanic counseling I gave him. Although it is a very beautiful object, I didn't think deeply about the spiritual meaning of receiving a doorknob until I recently read this passage in Iron John, the book by Robert Bly that gave form and speech to the men's movement of the 1990's.

"Every adult or older sibling who wants to enter the child's psychic room does so, because it is as if there is no doorknob at all on the inside of the door. The door moves freely in, opening us to improper intimacies.... The door moves freely, we could say, because the doorknob is on the outside."

The receiving of a doorknob all at once felt like a gift of revelation to me, much like when an oracle card reading alerts me to something hidden and yet in plain view in a situation I am examining. I really looked at the doorknob. It is ceramic and brass of a very old design, not capable of operating an ordinary door, and therefore it must be able to operate a non-ordinary door. So what kinds of non-ordinary situations need a doorknob on the "inside" that I can control?
Two types of situation occur to me. One is when I want to shut a door on interaction and maintain silence. I don't mean the kind of not talking that originates in hurt or disinterest, but rather the wise silence that grows from insight and compassion. The other situation is when I want to open a door to speak my truth. This is not the speaking that originates in emotional drama, but the calm speaking that expands awareness in a quiet respectful way.

Sometimes I meet someone who is her or himself a doorknob to these ways of being. Perhaps a friend holds silence in a loving way while I rail away against some difficulty, or she speaks plainly about a commitment still to be met...and I can hear a doorknob turning, and feel the choice of moving.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

What is a shamanic retreat?

I have just returned from a four day shamanic retreat, and while I had originally planned to write about the spiritual meaning of door knobs, the journey into the other realities ate all my time, as if I were serving to each minute a feast of giving blessings, re-committing to my spiritual teachers, and receiving blessings.

I cannot answer the question yet, "What is a shamanic retreat?" I am still waiting and not watching the pot that is my journal as it continues cooking. I know it took lots of letting go to get off the map. While it feels good to return to my Journey Oracle card readings, and painted frame drums, and shamanic art--I realize I have been in a landscape inhabited by the Other, the place where the torrents of ritual and sacrifice cut deep channels though my comfortable paths.
I wanted to be guided by these lines from Antonio Marchado:

Mankind owns four things
That are no good at sea--
Rudder, anchor, oars,
And a fear of going down.

Of course my cultural and personal version of these four: my anxieties, expectations, skills and fears accompanied me, yet I do think I mostly let the ship of the spirit world carry me. Turns out I got to sail on a beautiful boat.