Friday, April 22, 2016

Going with grace: How to leave a spiritual group

I once wrote a post about how to leave a spiritual teacher, but how does one leave a spiritual group? When a group has met for many years, sharing experiences alternately profound and mundane.what are skillful ways to come apart without breaking apart? A spiritual group is a family of shared joys and frustrations, so how to say farewell with grace?   In thinking about a mentor group that is now disbanding after 16 years, to which I have belonged and in which I have taught, I decided to do a Journey Oracle reading for advice.


This oracle  card is an image of the situation from my perspective, since I am the one who is doing the reading.  Although it is possible to receive advice about a group from the Journey Oracle, the answers always reflect the experience of the person doing the asking.  Card #36 represents Muin or Vine.  Its qualities are generosity, vision, altered states. The card's image to me certainly emphasizes seeing more than speaking, and has a suggestion of being exposed.  The time of year associated with this Oracle card is September 2 to 29, a time of increasing quiet as nature withdraws vitality in preparation for rest. The Oracle card has this message: expect delays.  What potent advice.  Be willing to wait, to expect shift and change to occur.  

This oracle card shows my experience in this situation.  The card of  high midsummer: Summer Solstice.  The mentor group began by making drums together, and here is that drum still, raised to radiance. This oracle card represents Fire, South, birthing.   The message of this Oracle is go here to be healed and for me this means that an ending is always also a beginning.


The oracle card of change is the Sun.  This card represents opening to higher self, entering the sacred circle.  My first impression of this image is "not much speaking, much more witnessing".  This Oracle brings a question, How is this a gift?  What a beautiful thought to bring to every complicated, emotionally charged situation!

This oracle card is an image of resolution in my situation: the May full moon.  This card represents constant growth, earth magic, positive magic.  I feel like the old woman in this shamanic painting; holding a drum. The question from this Oracle is, Do you want to go home?  Perhaps this is the way to go with grace, to leave this spiritual group--by finding a home for the drum we have been collectively holding for so long.  

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Journey Oracle readings at Banyen Books

The Journey Oracle will be at Banyen Books in Vancouver, BC as part of “Authors for Indies” on Saturday, April 30.  Authors for Independent bookstores is a Canada-wide event celebrating the value of independent book sellers.  Banyen Books has been a steady supporter of the Journey Oracle cards and so I am thrilled to give an afternoon of free oracle card readings, maybe to you or a friend if you stop by between 2 and 5 pm.  

In honor of giving oracle card readings, I thought I would do a brief reading for the event, to receive some insights about what to expect and how to prepare. 

This oracle card represents the full moon in December, and is an image of the situation. Its qualities are "looks within self, renewal, moderation, freedom from control."  Its message is "the wisdom of age."  Sounds like a good omen for a day sharing the Journey Oracle in a beautiful setting with people who love books. 

This oracle card shows an image of my experience at the Banyen Bookstore.  Very mysterious!  It is the card representing the Teacher. It is about "receiving the teachings of impeccability." It gives me two questions to ponder.  "Are you willing to break free?"  "Can you make peace with this moment?"  It will certainly be interesting to experience the moment that will make these questions clear.

This is my oracle card for change.  Beltane is the Celtic name for the pagan holiday on April 30/May 1st, a fire holiday representing "joining."  Its message is "sweetness."  Since the Authors for Indies event is on April 30th, this sweet change feels particularly powerful.  

The card representing Vision is my Oracle for resolution.  This oracle card represents "calling Great Spirit" and "empowering miracles of transformation."  It's statement is "cannot sort this out."  How perfect.  Accessing our subconscious wisdom with the Journey Oracle is not meant to be sorted out, it is meant to be revelation.

This 4 card reading only took moments to do and is so powerful that I intend to offer this format at the Authors for Indies event, instead of my usual one-card reading.  Come visit me at Banyen Books and receive your own revelation. 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

How to become a drum maker, or my shaman drum teachers

My drums taught me how to become a drum maker.  My first drum was built twice because the hoop warped and became like an egg.  My first lesson was "do not make a crippled voice.  Either give spirit a voice or let your effort die trying." You can see the original drum head line inside the drum rim.

My second drum taught me how to paint images by gazing into the dried skin until I could say, "Oh, it's you." The creatures were coaxed into appearing in this reality by dusting raw earth pigments into their forms, but mostly into the shadows around the forms. 

Initially I painted the backs of my drums as well as the front by reaching through the cedar withe holding ring.


Even though the holdfast at the back of the drum has evolved over the years to contain unique interlacement patterns without a painting, the cedar withe and the copper snake remain my signature.

One of my most constant lessons from my shaman drum teachers is "don't give up."  Before this goat skin became a drum, it was grabbed by a neighborhood dog who was busy trying to swallow it while I was equally busy trying to retrieve it.  You can see how the sewn up tears in the skin at the bottom of the drum became the claws of the jackel.

This profound image came to the most damaged deer skin I have ever received.  A plastic bag of hide was left at my front gate.  The skin was green with decay and covered in maggots.  Apparently the deer had been dragged from the woods because long gravel burns marked the lower portion.  I thought to make a small part into a painting surface, and so stretched it on an old hoop only to give a flat surface to work with.  When dry the drum had a beautiful voice, and this image was already mostly present in the skin.  Only the bear's face and the woman's figure were added by me. 

Sometimes the lesson is about how is drum is not always a drum--like when it is a rattle instead.  This drum was made for a ceremony in which all the participants had to wear skirts...even the drum.  The swishing sound of the bead skirt became the voice of spirit. 

Rarely a drum will have such a big lesson that the echos of its meaning continue for years.  This drum was made of elk from a single hide that provided this skin, plus 4 other skins for smaller medicine drums, all made by a circle of women who had worked together for many years.  The drum was then committed to be sold to someone with a powerful connection to its spirit. 

But then one of the women of the circle died.  And a larger voice than human desire came forward to be heard.  The drum was from the center of the hide.  And from one of my favorite Journey Oracle cards I remembered this question, "Will the rim hold if the center falls out?"