On being a shamanic practitioner on the bad days….

Stuff sometimes happens, and life comes in like a rattlesnake. You step on it, and you get bit. The poison enters.

            It’s a big world, and if you do shamanic work as your livelihood because it has called you, and you said yes, YES, as your answer? If you promised, long ago, that you wanted the spirits to be in charge of your spiritual evolution? You have made a promise that is, thank all that is mysterious, non-negotiable. Your face is always turned up. Into the direction of mystery.

            Day before yesterday, I stepped on a huge rattler. I was just walking along, and he sunk in his fangs down deep. It hurt, and I am poisoned.

            Today, I must serve a client. I feel all broken, and I ache. I am very tired. Woozy even. I know woozy doesn’t do well in the studio. I mean, if you are working for yourself, you can have those days when you just sink to the blanket, and say, “Please, help me.” You don’t form a question. You can’t. You don’t know what it is you need; you’re just in pieces. And those journeys? Sometimes, in those journeys, you are given a sip of water, enough to get through the day, or something much larger.

            But when my stuff is not the stuff I can focus on, and I must get myself out of the fucking way, I have learned to rely on what I have learned about shamanic work along the long, long way.

            Whether it is heartbreak or headache, fear or lack, what ever it is you have? That is what you must give to the work for the work to work.

            My practice is built on two words and only two: reciprocity and reverence. Reverence is never a problem anymore. It’s cellular for me after so many decades. I always feel it, maybe because I have seen, felt that I am always being held, every single second, even when I cannot locate why that is true. Because of that? I can always bow. Always. My gratitude for that is never in question. Of course, I can bow.

            The reciprocity, in my work, must begin with what I can give. In my shamanic childhood, I was greedy like most kids are. I wanted what I wanted and I showed up to get it. The prize. The euphoria. The wow.

            But now? I know I must enter the circle by giving what I have, and only then they come. This is how the circle works for me.

            Today, I am fragile and teary and scared. So, I shall do this ritual, very short, very easy, that I was taught so very long ago that I do before I walk into the studio. It works. It washes enough of my shit away, enough of it so I can focus to work.

            Then I walk in, and devise the questions to ask the spirits so my client’s suffering can be cured or eased. I speak the question in my mind, if the client is in the studio, or aloud, if the work for the client is being done long distance. I say something, or will say something like this when I start today: I am sorry because today? I am broken. All I have are pieces of grief and me. This is all I can give you today for this cure that my client needs through your magic. I wish it was prettier or sweeter, but as you do not care for lies and know everything anyway, I cannot give you what I am not, only what I am. This is ALL I can offer you by way of reciprocity. Please take it as a gift. Please. Please come for her. Please come into me for her. She is suffering and needs you. Take my offering, please.

            I believe, know, and have seen, when I do this? Usually, for some unfathomable reason, the work works. I do journey, the client is served.

            Thank all that is holy I learned this a long time ago. Not because I wanted to, but because I had to.

            Power, having your own power, is not as simple as flicking on a light switch. You don’t either have it or not. Sometimes, it’s a torrent, a waterfall. It is so big that it thunders. Other days, your power is in a back channel, a bog. It is not moving fast and free. But it is still there. Power is like water, and not the teacup that holds it. You don’t own the water like you own the cup. Or I don’t. It’s either moving fast or slow, a beautiful river song or the buzz of mosquitoes. It doesn’t matter. It’s still there, and you can use it even if you don’t feel like it could possibly be enough.

            On days like this? I have to work harder. Work hard to remember what they said. To be 100 percent in the journey. Practice what I know. First person present. I see, I hear, I touch. Be in the journey, and not in the confused mind or the breaking heart.

            Then the spirits come. They are compassionate, always. Empirically, I have learned that it is not what I give that matters. It’s that I give what I am that matters. Sometimes rubble, sometime bouquets.

            People who do not do this work think it is all so pretty all the time. It’s always spring. It’s always tears of joy. Sometimes, it’s just tears. And then the only choice is do not do the work or let the tears drop on the altar, and ask that they be enough.

            Much to my utter amazement, confusion and downright shock? The first time I tried this a long time ago, the work worked well for the client. After that? I knew I could do this, whenever I had to, because my partners in the work get it. They get I am human, and that if I do show up? Work hard? They will ALWAYS do what they know is the best thing to do for the client.

Can I say that every single time I feel like this that outright miracles occur for my clients? No. But I also can’t say that when I skip and tra-la into the studio that our work always knocks it out of the park. And yet, I also know every journey is perfect. It ALWAYS works the way the spirits determine. Clients always receive. Outcome is never certain. Work that seems to rock the world? Yes, the world rocks and the client changes right before my eyes. But the work that seems subtle? Wow, sometimes that work is just the beginning of a great unfurling, one journey that will be the first of many, that will take time to finally untangle the client’s soul into some shape that she could have NEVER imagined.

Whether bog or river, my power is just the water. Sometime, backwash and sometimes flow. As a human who is always broken and whole, I can only stop for a while to breathe, and then proceed. That is all there finally is.

So when I walk in, as I will in about ten minutes from now, and show up? In pieces? Plead for grace for this astounding woman who is begging for her shine? Unsure about me maybe, but not about them? I hope that, yet again, Bear will rise. And even though I am actually shaking now as I type? And I can barely see or move my fingers over these keys? There is a most faint whisper in the background, and Bear is saying, come, come, I am here.

Believe me when I tell you that today? I will lean as hard as I can into that. Because right now? I cannot do anything for my client but give Bear what little I am, work my ass off, and ask him to please do the rest. And hope, yet again, that he will.