Category Archives: Spiritual Activism

Bow Down to the Power Within You

“Ah, yes. This is the one,” I thought as I bent over the wide lip of my cauldron, bubbling cool and thick purple liquid.

For months, I’d been charging my body with intention,
reaching in the goop to pull out instruments of power,
voices of the age, crying

“Find your power,” at my back.

In my closed cavern, I’d taken a good look at the fiery sword of righteous anger, remembering the time we’d spend together.

I’d carried the feather that smelled of elder wisdom for a few days, but eventually let it slip back under the surface. It wasn’t a thing to cast energy. It didn’t work that way.

I’d pulled out a full loom, so familiar, threads of community stretched across the beams-but there was something missing there. Something I had been entangled in, so I let that go, too, watching it return to a primordial state before dissolving.

Always, fully formed,
infused with the power of societal expectation,
the Sword of Charismatic Ego was raised in the back,
hilt towering over the magical surface.

I am not moved by it.
Time stands between us, a desert of isolation, contemplation and gathering – a kind of goodness-gathering that happens when there is space to store it.

“I am no longer tempted or even angry at the presence of you, old saber.”

I am safe now. I have ridden storms that raged inside me. I have turned my focus from battles and building to sow seeds of my own happiness.

How will I be called to serve next?
What will it be?
What kind of power does the body of my song desire to wield with her every fiber?

Before finding the elusive answer, empty, I passed my hand into the cool and felt something move across it, falling towards the bottom of the cauldron. Instinctively, I thrust deeper and caught it, this strong, humming thing, this rod, this staff, this wand covered in pearl sheen.

Yes, of course it would be pearl.

Kindness.
Subtle,
permeating in power,
slippery.
This benign force quiet.

My heart tightened in need-fire.
How could I feel passion for a power impossible to master?

Because there is no other power,
no other path to stumble upon when days are unfocused.
I can learn to hold my spirit just so,
not let it fall through a grip too tight or loose
on the good days.

To wield the Power of Kindness.

There are many teachers to draw from, mountains to be built.
This time we will build them together.

Tasara Jen Stone https://littlelight.info

Magic, Tattoos, Hate and Transformation

Let’s unpack the spiritual potency of a tattoo. It may be a symbol, a colorful depiction or it may be just words, but its form, resting endlessly on that body has an active meaning which imprints itself deep into the psyche and plays into the subconscious. It also changes and evolves over time as the wearer changes through their life experiences. They are homemade archetypes, always there, always speaking, always.

Tattoos are a form of blood magic. A person has to cross a threshold of pain and shed their blood in order to receive it. It is a life commitment made in a pain-induced state of elevated consciousness. One enters this ceremony knowing that a tattoos are permanent, and that even if they try to erase it in later years, their body will always show some mark. Most of us are thinking about the symbol or words throughout the entire process which binds us to it and gives the tattoo spiritual power. It becomes a talisman made of one’s own living flesh.

There is no going back. Only transformation.

So imagine what it would be like to have a tattoo of hate emblazoned on your body that you didn’t want anymore.

WHITE PRIDE. A swastika. Perhaps it felt right at one time. Perhaps it never did, but actually was a mistake from long ago. Imagine the dissonance of having to live with an active archetype on your body that does not stand for who you are anymore, and still be able to feel its power, moving and expressing itself on a multi-dimensional level.

Imagine having your character broadcasted as something you are not. Imagine being afraid you might encourage another person to go down the wrong path. Imagine hating this and not having the funds to change the tattoo.

This is where spiritual activism comes in. Sometimes we can do ceremony for others. In this case, we just need to fund someone’s blood ceremony of transformation.

I am donating to Redemption Ink, a nonprofit collective of tattoo studios that are removing symbols of hate for free. Please join me.

Social change happens when people change on a deeper level. Imagine the change.

https://www.redemptionink.org/

Trump’s Illness and the magic of the Election

Yes, I laughed my ass off when, half-asleep, I opened my laptop to find that Trump was diagnosed with Covid-19. I didn’t want him to die, but I couldn’t bring myself to the shore of other people who were truly concerned for his health.

Now it’s been a few days and it’s become real. It is no longer symbolic or part of the game of politics. It’s about a human being. I was able to shift and put out a message on social media saying,

“I envision that Donald John Trump receives the care he needs and the outcome of his illness is aligned with his pure soul’s deepest desire.“

Lots of people are having moral conflict in their own reaction to Trump’s hospitalization. I completely understand. After he bullied Biden in the debates, as he puts his own staff at risk of infection, it is hard. But this is a test. As you are concerned about ethics, and karma, and the trajectory the world is on, this could be a turning point on your spiritual path. I am not perfect. I think that writing this is helping me get to that shore, so bear with me.

We created this situation with our political apathy and cynicism. If we don’t want this person to be the President of the United States, we are meant to use our power and vote in someone else. We can even reach across state lines and reach people in swing states. There is still time to make this happen. See the links at the end here.

But wishing someone unwell is a malevolent use of magic. Period. It is in times like these, time of crisis and real feelings of life and death for our planet, ourselves and our brothers and sister, it is times like these when people can sooo easily turn to using their metaphysical abilities for harm. Doing so sets off a whole chain of events in oneself, changing the shape of who you are and making the likelihood you would do such things like that again in the future. Deciding to channel your energy in a way that aligns with your true values, despite the great duress, will also shape you. Times like these reveal one’s true character, and can mark one’s character, too.

Let the forces of the Wyrd decide. We are not Gods and Goddesses. There is POTUS, and there is the man, who we know is profoundly traumatized, wounded and out of control. He is not asking for prayers, as far as I know. We do not know what his soul wants. So we don’t try to heal him, just as we don’t try to kill him. We send up a flare with an image of hope that his soul find what it needs, but we send it no where.

It is also important to decide and cement what your energetic response to his illness is, so your strong emotions and unconscious thoughts do not leak out and send energy you do not intend. Time to tell your whole confused system who is in charge and what the energetic directive of the hour is.

Keep doing what you were doing before this happened. Do more if you can. Do something if you haven’t been doing anything. Let’s invest our energy where it is needed, rather than reacting to the news. Let’s keep going. I am with you. I love you. I need you, and I see a world where were we all come together and rejoice in the relief we feel when we discover that we are working together, rather than waiting for someone to save us. And through this, we find each other and our sense of true community and family-outside-of-family is restored.

Here. Over here. Point your magic here. I need you right now. And I’m not the only one. There is still time:

https://votefwd.org/ Letters to swing states.

https://votesaveamerica.com/adopt-a-state/
Phone calls to voters.

And, Blessed Be.

Tasara

(excuse the first draft, this is a message sent when I should be getting ready for work)

Returning My Crystals To The Earth

Lately, I have taken to driving for hours in search of the right high mountain road, where I can return my crystals to the earth. I have been picking through my crystal beads, asking, This one? Yes. This one? Not yet., mixing the yeses together in a box, with salt for purification, in preparation for when they will be released to the waters. I am thinking ways to let them be wild, where no human will catch them.

Box of crystal beads, mixed with salt for purification
Box of crystal beads, mixed with salt for purificaiton

I am not infusing them with prayers or directing their energy into any configuration. I am not even making proclamations. I am saying, Here. This is yours. Be at peace. Knit yourself back together, now.

This is my act of love. Mother Earth needs no more.


It all started with a group journey to the Spirits of Kindness. We were asked to go the ley lines of the Earth and ask if there was anything we could do to help. I saw them, so beautiful..

Immediately, a loud voice shouted, again and again, “STOP BUYING CRYSTALS”.

Now, I had done my stopping of buying crystals years ago, but I started up again recently. I already knew. In my journey, I saw images of the land being gouged by the mines. The destruction. The dissipation of the earth’s power centers.

I knew this was a message I need to listen to, and at the same time, I also was conflicted.
I asked, What about the magnified power and healing we get from them, each in their own way?
The answer was: If you have ever known a crystal, you can always tap into it again. It’s like knowing a mudra.

I asked: What about the ones I already own?
In answer, I felt a deep desire from the crystals to go back into the earth. They can’t communicate, connect with all the others, be charged, do their thing when they are trapped in all these little boxes we call homes. I could see that if I had my own backyard, I could put them down and visit them there still. But I don’t have my own backyard. I was told to journey more about it and take my time learning how to transition out.

In the weeks after this journey, I have been slowly and silently guided by the Spirits of Kindness to find alternative magics. See, I use crystals a lot for protection and I need to be taught some other ways. I am in my home, often gazing at crystals, asking, You? Where How? Thank you.

I have found that different stones desire different things, so I listen, and listen. I am not getting rid of all my jewelry in a fell, unthinking swoop. I am listening. I am learning so many things. The stones that have been locked away say to me, See how well you have done without me!

I do not hope that my short post here compels you to purge every stone person in your house. I only hope that it reminds you to listen.

Blessed Be.

Rubber Bullet Talisman

Send me your rubber bullets and I will build an altar for us.

It will contain the power that struck the hammer,
sending them, cutting through the air.

It will be packed with the force of cold, negligent denial
of all wrongs done from slavery until now.

It will be charged with the emotions of our people
on the streets, shouting until they can’t speak,
marching until their bodies hurt,
retreating through tear gas and chanting in unison,

of those tased in the car
while police slash their tires,
merely for being there.

It will hold the memories of those who held out their hands,
those who risked their lives,
those who crossed the lines,
those who took a knee for peace.

It will be purified by the mere act of picking it off the street,
turning it in one’s fingers,
and taking it home
to channel such
into societal transformation.

Take your rubber bullets
place them in a small dish.
Surround all that passion
and song
and force
and rage
and grief
and sweet bonding,
with petals
and nurturing sounds.
Then, light a candle
to hold witness to us all
as you shine in your heart to envelop us
with your sweetness.

Take your rubber bullet,
pierce it with a hot needle.
Pull a strong thread through the hole
and make yourself a garland.
Make yourself a thing of beauty,
wrought from the forges of rebellion.
Take it with you always,
to fuel your revolution,
which is our revolution,
to crystallize your truth,
which is our truth,
to remind you,
never,
never to stop.

How Can I Help?

If we truly believe that we are connected as one consciousness, we cannot turn away from the children wrenched from their parents at the border. If we truly believe that we are one, we cannot wait for the movement to save our environment. If we know in our hearts that every one of our actions ripples out into the greater collective, we can no longer bury our heads in the sand and refuse to listen to what is happening in the world. There is a young black man crying in his prison cell, missing his family and wondering how on earth he could’ve been convicted for a crime he did not commit. He needs you. There is a homeless person not far from your house searching for a place to feel safe, who holds their own special story, and needs your help navigating. As the orcas starve in waters and the bears search for food, malevolent industries continue to take. Do not feel despair. The overwhelming emotions that you feel, are you trying to bury as you flip through your social media pages, as you drown yourself in late-night TV, as you reach for a bottle or a pipe or the latest medication, these emotions will not go away. They are screaming to be let out. If you do not let them out, they will make you sick. They will create a blanket of depression and no solutions will be found. The longer we wait, the worse it will get. We think we are helpless but that far, far from the truth. The truth is, the real truth is that together we have more a power than all of these destructive forces put together. We have heard it again and again, so much that we have become numb to its truth. Each of us has a part to play and though no one part can shift the tides, our own part can only be played by our own true heart. First, we must speak our emotions. There is great fear speaking about politics in our country, fear of conflict, but the conflict is already here. It is up to us to find solutions. When we speak our emotions, not only do we give others permission to speak their emotions but we open the valve inside us. The power rushes out. As we process our feelings, our minds naturally look to solutions. We need not find the one great solution. We need find what our hearts are asking us to do. The mystery of the oneness between us will take care of all the rest. Each of our parts will magically synthesize into tides change. I don’t need to ask you to believe me because I know that you know this is true. We say that we don’t have enough time in our busy lives, but the time that we spend, the energy we invest in trying to get away, once turned, will change the world. The reality is that if we don’t all take our part now, our species will die and we will take all the other species down with us into the darkness. Prayer and ceremony are needed, but we need more right now. Our hearts know it, too. Do you need to volunteer? Do you need to donate? Do you need to take food to the next big meeting? Do you need to march in the streets? Do you need to write some letters? Do you need to mentor the young? Do you need to build a tool for others to use? Whether you do it by yourself or with others besides you, you are still in the One. Rejoice in the fact that millions of others are working with you in their own unique way. Blessed be. Blessed be.

The Ancient Bones of Ceremony

I have returned from the cauldron.
I have been dreaming, transcribing, laughing over the memories,
crying with frustration, reveling in the discoveries and
being prompted by my editor,
again and again, to go further and further.

It is the best of me. It is better than me, for it has a soul.
And from the bottom of my heart,
I wrote it for you.

Cover

This book has no recipes for ceremony. Instead, it takes you on a journey through each stage of creating ceremony, so you can deeply understand the energetics of what makes a ritual powerful and never need a recipe again.

Step into the mysteries of the ancient ways as you travel on an allegorical journey to explore the many dynamic aspects of what makes a ceremony transformative for yourself, your family and your community.

Weddings, rites of passage, baby blessings, funerals, yes, and also life changes that are not typically honored: loss of relationship, divorce, new home, new job, eldership and retirement.

For many of us, the formats provided by higher authorities are not enough, and imitating traditions of other cultures is controversial. We need to return to the bare bones of ceremony and create transformative events that are personalized to our own lives and the culture we live in. This is where our power lies.

With Tasara Stone’s careful guidance, you will learn to:

  • Identify your heart’s yearning and turn its message into a pure, ceremonial intention
  • Create beautiful metaphors and symbolic language to express your heart’s need
  • Invoke and maintain sacred space
  • Perform ceremony with effective, safe practices

For public ceremony you will learn to:

  • Identify community needs and desires
  • Empower others to participate in the ceremony-creation process
  • Manage large groups of people when the energy is unpredictable
  • Hold ethical and safe space for others

Tasara Stone’s lyrical writing, which includes prayers, blessings, and paeans of gratitude, transports us to a sacred landscape where our heart’s needs are treated with utmost care. We tune into the light that glows at our core, connecting us to all of life. We spend time with Mother Earth and her elemental spirits, who teach us to walk the sacred spiral path. We learn about the importance of aligning ourselves with the cycles of growing and dying, accepting and letting go. Only with this wisdom and love can we craft and experience ceremonies that are truly transformative.

Tasara Stone offers us not only a practical guide, she gives us a powerful and moving experience of the energies that will nourish our practice. Her words root us in the very soil out of which ceremony grows. Fully engaged, heart, mind, body and soul, we come to understand how the wisdom of ancient times can help us cultivate an authentic spiritual practice in the midst of modern life. This is another essential gift of The Ancient Bones. As we contemplate the lies and distortions that bombard us daily, we come to understand ceremony as a way of creating alternative stories for ourselves, ones that give our lives true meaning.

Access The Sweetness Within You.

Sing Your Song.

Shine Your Light.
———————————————————————————

Where To Find It

Paperback/Ebook
Bookshop is my favorite, because they donate to local bookstores.
Also, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and many others.
Audiobook
iTunes Store / Audible, Amazon / Audiobooks.com / AudiobooksNow / AudiobooksNZ / Authors Direct / BajaLibros / Beek / Bokus Play / BookBeat / Bookmate / Chirp / eStories / Fuuze / Google Play / hibooks / Hummingbird / Instaread / Kobo, Walmart / Libro.FM / Nextory / NOOK Audiobooks / Papaya / Playster / Scribd / Storytel

BACK2

If this booksoul touches your heart, please give it a lift by leaving a review on the big bookseller sites.

Take It.

Take It,
they say.

You have come here,
your mind reeling from the city,
mired in the wires of your human ways.

You have come here, out of breathe.
You came parched with soul-thirst.
You asked for healing and we have given it to you.

We want something back this time.

So take it.
Pick up this sacred sword of truth,
the one we gave you when you thought you lost your soul
and we helped you,
and do something right for us.

Speak in your language for us.
Use your human will and score a path for us.

For it you don’t, we are all going to die.

It is time you have grown up
to take your place in the work.
Take the sword and act in this world.

For if you don’t, we are all going to die.

A Call to Action: Shamanic Practitioners, Consumerism and Community. Our Place in the Web of Global Healers

Original, 2012.

The first draft of this article was originally rejected by the Society for Shamanic Studies in 2011. After working with an encouraging editor to tone down the intensity, their committee eventually decided that it still wouldn’t work for them.

I went on to work with Peter Clark at “All Things Healing” to break it into a three-part series and make it more palatable for an online audience. Their publishing site has gone down, so here is another draft, updated for our times.

Blessing on your path.

—————–

drum

I stand beneath the sacred redwood trees
and
the power of the ancients nourish me.
I am touched by the precious kiss of mother earth,
I h
ear the raspy caw of the raven and I know,

I do not need to search for heaven.

I stand before an ocean, rising and falling with plastic with her swells.
O
il slicks drift into the wild.
I look at this and I am sure
that I do not create my own reality,

Rather, we co-create it.

It is no secret that the world is out of balance. There are dams that kill the salmon, clear-cuts that muddy the rivers, over-spending on military that leaves naught for our disadvantaged. There is anorexia, drug addiction, domestic violence, xenophobia and the lack of working class job. The list goes on as you know.

This situation is so commonly known that it has become easy to accept as normal. It tempting to block out these realities and focus only on the good and healing, the ‘love and light’, even though we know in our hearts that we cannot get away. We know it. We know that we cannot get away because everything is interconnected.

As Shamanic practitioners, our foremost responsibilities are to restore harmony and to serve our communities. We specialize in accessing the other-realms in order to find healing for the sick. We have devoted ourselves to our relationships with our spirit friends so that we may bring our clients’ lives back into balance. But what is our part in helping the global effort to restore harmony on the broader scale? How do we open ourselves to do the work without becoming overwhelmed or thrown into despair?

“It is too overwhelming”, I have heard some say. “It is depressing.”

“My empathic nature cannot handle the truths out there.”

In a discipline where we specialize in spiritual solutions, we can get grounded enough to protect ourselves and hold presence for what is going on. Granted, we can’t watch the news every day without some impact on our well-being buy we must find balance there too. Just enough and we may find that our emotional reactions are a great source of inspiration.

In order to help out, we must understand that we are not alone in the mission to bring the planet back into balance. Hand our despair the truth card, which us that there are millions of people who are working towards this end. They know that the only way things change on a global level is when we dig in, reach out for each other and keep moving. As shamanic people, we have a place in that, and it has to do with a lot more than prayer or individual healing. We need an agenda to spiritually address these global monstrosities. And I’ll betchya, knowing our place in the collective is going to be more fun than we might think.

There are organic food farmers, fair trade merchants, tireless community organizers and patient, patient teachers. There are prolific advocates and strong activists, innovative scientists who work on renewable energy projects and brave whistleblowers. Look at this wonderful list! There are progressive songwriters to encourage us and soothe our sorrows. There are documentary filmmakers, independent journalists, impassioned writers and dedicated fathers, in touch with their feelings. There are powerful, brilliant, creative people, inspired and gorgeously diverse.

This vast web of people who hone their passions and abilities create an interlocking pattern of energetic change across the planet. Each role is as crucial as the other, and when we step back to look at the whole, a song emanates from all the activity.

As Shamanic practitioners, our work is a reflection of these movers, changers and growers but on the spiritual plane. What we do there affects what happens here. What happens here affects all other realities. So, should we be down in the protest plaza or in the sacred circle? Or both? For each of us, the answer lies where our individual passions are kindled.

We already know from our inner work that we can’t remain idle on a path towards passion, even if it seems that we must pass impenetrable boundaries. Our initiations have taught us that. It is really a matter of life or death. So what do we do? The answer is found in the songs and the patterns. Follow me here. I want to show you something. We are going to use our shamanic gifts to look together, to listen and watch, to learn and then finally to vision together.

Let’s go back to the web of changers and widen our visual scope to encompass all aspects of society. Now we can see many more patterns, hear more songs as well. There are healing songs and there are songs of sorrow. There are entrancing, manipulative songs and there are songs of hunger. There are symphonies and clashing chords, the music of brooks and pebbles falling off a mountain. Here we can sense the shape of things. We can glean the nature of the forces that want to turn all of Mother Nature’s gifts into money. We begin to understand the mechanism of how these forces take our own individual talents, passions and desires and turn them into tools for their gain.

Looking is not easy. It can be overwhelming, but it is a crucial step to applying our skills to these big world problems. To open ourselves and be present with such powerful energy systems at work, all we have to do is use the same technique we use with our clients: shields up, open heart, keen senses and compassion. At first, our intention is only to gather information. The following stage is to use that information to figure out what to do. Knowledge becomes power so that we can shift from a practice of seeing to one of envisioning, or ‘using our vision’.

Vision is not a passive thing to a shamanic practitioner. Vision is a powerful tool which we use for healing. With these tools, we can project a vision of a new future. We hold in our heart-gaze, with unconditional love, people from all walks of life and all situations. Our ability to track energy and see how energetic things function allows us to discover what remedies may offset some of the destructive forces around us.

In order to be part of the stunning web of changers, we need to hold our vision wide. We need to open ourselves and practice the power of witnessing the calamities and genocides so that the suffering do not suffer even more from spiritual isolation. We cannot turn our presence away from them. We also need to learn from what is happening around us.

Let’s turn our shamanic gaze to peer into several interactive systems that are hindering our collective health as a planet. From this we may glean some solutions together. We will start by observing the difference between culture created by people and culture manufactured by corporations. Their patterns are different, as well as their manifestations and goals.

oceanV

Corporate Culture, Organic Culture

Culture is the unseen stuff that happens when we people spend a lot of time together: our art, our ways of being and our customs. It is the intangibility of a people. It reflects shared values. Culture is powerful and alive, even more powerful than we think because much of it is silent and unseen. Culture can bring joy and close relationships, or silently support oppression. Culture also comes from the shape and natural aspects of the land a people lives upon. The sounds, colors, rhythms and sweetness all express the creatures and plants that we are in relationship with every day.

What happens when we lose our relationship with the land? What happens when many of us don’t stay in one city long enough for it to feel like home? When people value the monetary value that they can get from the land more than the land itself? When we look around, organic culture has been greatly lost in commercialized areas. Much of what we see that is called culture is actually manufactured by corporations.

Corporate advertising creates and perpetuates harmful stereotypes by telling us how we need to look and behave in order to be perceived as attractive or successful. The songs of marketing are all around us. Everywhere we look, someone in some way is trying to convince us to give them our money. We yearn for and wonder how to find our way back to it.

It used to be that the moment some new talent brought his music or art forth for us to share, the corporations would come in and commoditize it, so quickly that it lost its medicine. Now we live in a time where young people, instead of creating new, regurgitate music and art of the past, mixed in with the values of corporations.

“It is what it is,” we say.

We live in a driven, name brand, obsessive, addictive society and as shamanic people we can never, never forget this. We must stay awake. There is only one root value to every expression of corporate culture: financial gain. The myriad ways that corporations try to get money are a myriad of spells that we have to become callous about, but certainly not immune to. We must be acutely aware of how these spells work.

Let’s track it and see it. There is a predictable pattern which has its own song. In our shamanic terminology, we would call it an enchantment spell that has been used over and over, and this is how it works:

  1. Put someone into a trance with enticing images. (Our guard comes down.)
  2. Invoke a strong emotion of desire or self-deprecation which creates a need and then,
  3. Associate that emotion with a product. A logo.
  4. The logo becomes deeply seated in our psyche and can be used in the future to invoke the spell again and again.

It’s a curse, really. A simple one, greatly overused but very effective through sheer repetition. It doesn’t matter to the corporate marketing machine if we are convinced to buy out of desire or spiritual hunger or shame of one’s own body. It doesn’t matter to the corporations if we are buying products that are created in a way that supports war or if we are buying things we don’t need. All that matters, is that we open our wallets. The methods that are used to persuade us are clear misuses of spiritual power. There are energy patterns in every aspect of corporate culture that insert thought-forms of helplessness, fear, low self-esteem and desire for things that are not healthy. These, we know, are intrusions and enchantments.

As shamanic people, we can help our communities disentangle from these curses. Firstly, we call on our shamanic allies to help us unwind these messages in ourselves and then we find methods that will help our students do the same. Things like, journeying for techniques and ceremonies to help us to maintain our self-esteem and find a positive body image.

We can give workshops exploring our use of media, its value vs. tricks, allowing people to discover their own relationship to the TV shows they are hooked on. We can join with the current movement of storytellers in bringing back its ancient human past-time instead.

We can journey together to see more clearly the different ways that corporate culture encourages addiction. We can look at the energetic nature of social media and how to use it as a tool rather than let it use and rob us of our free time. We can also assist our students in gaining tools to find clear separation from energies they do not want to align with. Together, we can create a movement a movement to unravel these curses, find harmony and weave new songs together.

This is the work that the marvelous web of changers is doing on the physical plane. We can take our intentions and consciousness to do the same work with our shamanic ways.

Bringing Shamanism to Work

In keeping with the participation as global spiritual citizens, who keep our awareness open to encompass both the heartbreaks and marvels of our society, we need to allow our students to process what their work cultures are doing to them.

Many people work in toxic or dysfunctional environments where it can feel next to impossible to maintain a sense of groundedness and connection. Instead of allowing our students to hold an escapist framework toward spiritual activities, we can allow a place in our circles for honest talk about on-the-job issues. We can talk and journey to identify the energy signature of our work environments and then find practical ways to create separation from it. Or perhaps find a subtle song that can begin to shift it in some positive way.

Corporate work culture can be so overwhelming that it is important to teach and discover forms of protection in environments where we do not have very much power. There are many different kinds of ‘hidden altars’ and protective fields that can be put up, without interfering with our colleagues’ personal space. Talismans that bring our beloved world view with us throughout the day can soften the blows enough to make the day manageable.

I hope I am inspiring you to find some new ways of serving the community. In shamanic journeys, we tap into our personal medicine. We let out our power songs. We witness each other. We ‘see’ each other with our strong vision and we are able to stay aligned when we go back to work.

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Shamanic Teaching Structures and their Effect on Diversity and Community

It is important, in any community, to be able to have discourse about the ways we have collectively chosen to do what we do. Industrialized society has near killed organic community. There are few public squares or gathering spots that do not cost money. More people live alone than ever. The family system has greatly fallen apart. Spiritual students crave community so much that they are willing to pay hundreds of dollars to fly to another city and take a class they have already taken and don’t really need, because they are lonely for human contact with others that share the same values.

In order to maintain integrity and care for our communities, we need to keep our eyes on how people come together and why they go away. Do people feel welcome? Is this community or class, really? Do we know what healthy community is? What patterns do we notice happening again and again? Are they working – not just for the health of the teaching organizations but for our students once they leave us and go on with their lives?

Let’s use our special vision to look at the structures we create for our spiritual classes. The most prevalent structure being used in many spiritual offerings for advanced training is based on week-long workshops and 2-3 year apprenticeships. Though the intensity of these classes is important, their format creates an economic barrier to receiving shamanic initiation. Realistically, most people either cannot afford to go or can afford it but don’t have enough vacation time to spare. Not only does this structure limit the student pool to the upper-middle class and rich, it limits the diversity of expression and experiences that are shared in the classroom.

When students come from around the world to meet, vital connections are made and still there is not enough time to truly birth community. Deep community is what happens when people live and love and grow together. When they stay together long enough to run into conflict and then pass through it. It requires locality and stick-to-it-ness. Alongside with our craving for community there is a fear of it, as well as over-idealized notions of what community might be. So, we can see there is a lot of sticking around we need to do in order to feed our hunger, get through these issues, and find each other.

Spirit does not discriminate when it chooses a shaman. The call will strike anyone from any country, race, economic class, gender or sexual preference. Therefore, knowing that teachers are scarce, we need to find ways to allow low-income apprentices to work with us. When we look at what happens when someone gifted misuses their power, we must admit that to not teach a power-filled apprentice poses a danger to that person and everyone around them.

These are some problems we have seen. It will be fun to dream up new structures and try them out. If the shamanic role is to serve and tend community, then it becomes important to find ways to offer gatherings for free. Or at least next to free. I’ve seen one model in which there is no charge for classes. They are considered ‘priceless’. Each student decides what form they wish to return the energy of teaching back to the world. They can give time, service, money or gifts. They can give to anyone they please.

In Seattle, I ran Spirit Jams for almost ten years. They were open to everyone: African drummers, ecstatic dancers, spiritual seekers and practitioners of many different modalities. People came with their djembes, frame drums, rattles, didgeridoos, Native American flutes, and we all had a great time. There was singing allowed with no words so no one person’s spiritual orientation would impress upon another’s. In the summers, I organized open public ceremonies in the parks. These were free, and like the Spirit Jams, structured to be simple enough that anyone can participate at the level they need to. At these events, there were always flyers for Shamanic Journey workshops, which were short and cheap, to allow anyone to meet the basic prerequisite for local journey circles. The deeper journey courses met once a week for 8 weeks. In such an experience, there was time for the opening of an intimate space where people could practice and share more profoundly.

The free events were regular enough that people came to expect them. A core group evolved, and friendships were being made just because an arena had been created for people to commune. Making them open to everyone engaged the broader alternative spiritual community. We joined hands with light workers, shamanic practitioners, pagans, yoga teachers, environmentalists, Buddhists, midwives and sexual healers, therapists and activists and sound healers. We shared our gifts and held each other in light.

I am not offering a single solution but rather an experience and social experiment to share with you. This sacred circle eventually did run its course, partially because all things come to an end but there also because I gave too much and became out of balance with myself. There were ceremonies filled with many volunteers and a lot of beautiful power and joy and there were other times when I just gave and gave and went home tired. It was not ok for me to continue when I was tired. I hope that you can learn from my lessons about the necessity of energy exchange. The work of bringing balance must fore-mostly happen at home before it works on a broader scale.

I do find great joy in the knowledge that many lasting friendships were forged through the space that we created together. Community is not being in the same room together for a short amount of time and never seeing one another again. Community is all about relationships, with the thrills and the difficulties, the frustrations and discoveries. It is memories shared and stories told.

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Part-time and Full-time Spiritual Practice Structures

Another structure, which is comes right from our over-culture, is the notion that one must make a living from what one is passionate about in order to be taken seriously. However, anthropologists have taught us that traditionally, most shamans do not work full-time. They work the everyday tasks of surviving with everyone else and do their healing in their off time. Modern experiences of being a part-time or a full-time practitioner hold separate challenges that we can observe.

On one hand, it is difficult to carve out the time to maintain consistent deep sacred space when holding a full-time job. It is also a challenge to keep one’s own system clear when spending our days in a work environment that may not be healthy. What is nice though, is avoiding the potential stress of being an entrepreneur. It’s also nice to have health benefits and paid time off in order to relax. Relaxing enhances our spiritual path.

On the other hand, depending solely upon shamanic services to pay the bills can create a dangerous equation, where primal needs for food, shelter and clothing are dependent on client and student numbers. This can create subtle compromises that might not even be a consideration if basic needs were already taken care of. Working full-time as a practitioner can be nice because allows us to have more control over the environments we live in. We are shielded from the realities that the many people who come to us live with every day. This is a blessing and at the same time it can create a gap of misunderstanding – even an unrealistic expectation from the shamanic healer that people should be able to navigate dysfunctional environments with more ease than is realistically possible.

We need to be realistic about what we are up against, create honest dialogues about these elements and support each other in our journeys to strengthen our healing structures.

Commoditization of Our Sacred Spaces

Continuing our envisioning work, what is the shape and song of consumerism when it enters our sacred spaces? This is a useful thing to journey on. Here are some affectations that I have noticed when the consumerist mindset seeps into our work.

People start taking classes faster than they can digest the material. It can be tempting for someone to pay for classes out of an underlying sense of loneliness or need for personal healing that is not being dealt with. It also can be tempting to rack up a resume of training with known teachers in order to earn some sort of respect. But taking many classes in succession is counter-productive, as no one can push the river when accessing wisdom. Growing takes time. There’s no way around it. When we look at the broader pattern of consumerism, these activities are understandable: there is an awful lot of outside pressure to fill empty holes in our lives with purchasing. Sadly, when this happens, shamanism becomes a commodity and it has lost its power.

As teachers, how can we encourage our students to stick with the inner path and not jump too far ahead? How does a full-time teacher’s need for sustenance compromise their ability to be discerning about who may or may not be ready for an advanced class? What is ‘advanced’; how is it defined? These are difficult questions which have many diverse answers depending upon the teacher and the class, but nonetheless they are important questions to ask.

Genuine Relationships and Marketing

Then there is marketing. In traditional cultures, people knew who the good healers were based upon reputation. Word naturally got out through local relationships. This still can happen, but in urban areas, strong networks might not be there. In response, some practitioners use the mainstream model of heavy marketing, using the same tactics described earlier in this article and resume posting. What does an emphasis on resume building do to the practice itself? Where is the line between getting the word out, giving our background and boasting, which diminishes the integrity of our work? Putting too high a value on who one studied with and from which country can overlook the power and truth of one’s relationships with the spirit teachers. At the same time, it can be risky looking for a good healer. How can potential clients find out about who we are?

People come together based on relationships, trust. If we can create spaces that nurture these things, then students will naturally come our way. There is a place for journey circles and public ceremonies and there is a place for formal training. Ideally, all these activities feed each other.

In Harmony

Shamanism means that we walk the sacred Wheel of Life. We have learned to love and respect every part of it, rather than only the highs and lows that modern media wants us to thrive upon. Our presence in people’s lives brings attention and honor to the ‘almost’ places, the juicy in-between places, the trudging-up-the-hill times, the relieving fall into the process of death when death is due, the wonder of the unknown. This is true journey. We who are seasoned in the ways of journey offer this as our gift to the world. When we place our knowledge of the Wheel besides the mental construct of corporate culture, our work in the broader network of changers is clear to see.

Our lives are dedicated to sharing, tending and building rather than consuming, glamorizing or competing. Our power is in self-love and nourishing pride, not in participating in a system built upon greed or the preying on the shame and weaknesses of others. We hear the cries and dreams our activist friends put forth: from alternative energy sources to banishing corporate campaign contributions, from labeling genetically modified food to universal health care.

We know the power of dreaming too. We can help hold up the collective dreams of all of us. The time of the charismatic leader is over. We connect, we pray and we sing the global healing song.

I stand in shamanic circle
aware that people here come from the same land as me
where isolation is more common than communion.
I honor the courage it took
for them to show up.

As we drum, we sing.
We open and the dance begins.
I hear a chorus under the drums
coming from the great, compassionate spirits.

Blessed Be.

Tasara

The Grove of the Titans Need Your Help.

I’ve never posted the story of how I found a secret, ancient Redwood grove last summer because though the adventure was epic, part of the lesson I learned was how easy it is for the smallest of footprints made in utmost of earnesty could harm the delicate and precious floor of the forest, especially one made up of trees whose root systems grows wide, rather than reaching down.

I just didn’t want to encourage anyone else to go there.

But now there is finally an effort to raise money to build boardwalks and open it to the public. My heart sings and I encourage you to support these honorable forest protectors, in turn making this utmost sacred grove open to all to experience it’s glory. Even if you can only give ten dollars, please, I beg of you, consider looking here. https://redwoodparksconservancy.org/save-grove-titans

Standing in the Grove of the Titans was heaven come to earth. It was like Lothlorien. It was majesty personified.

In my journey to find this magical place described in Richard Preston’s “Wild Trees”, I discovered that that it was not inaccessible to a middle aged woman with periodic knee issues. I didn’t believe at first that I would find it, which made me less attentive, so I spent a few days hiking in the wrong areas, on unrelated trails.

But I was possessed with the desire and call to go there, so I persisted, not knowing if my story might end with my body shutting me down.

I dreamt about it. I was empassioned. But I could not find the trail. Instead I used hints from previous travelers online and figured it would be a hidden trail. So I went off, over rotting logs, onto soft moss and at one point I stopped and with dread and regret, looking around me at the pristine land, knowing, seeing that every step I took left a mark. I thought “What have I done?” But I knew I was close and I was going to cause as much damage if I went back, so I continued forward.

Then crossing a small dry riverbed, I saw it. It is difficult to take in an Ancient Redwood because you cannot turn your head in any way to see the whole thing at once. Redwoods can grow to be over 300 feet tall so it’s like standing under skyscrapers of trees. Walls of trees. It’s impossible to eek out even a glimpse of the rare ecosystems that reside up in the cloud. Every tree is unique as a snowflake, or a human, each angle speaking, sharing a universe of spiritual mystery. It is an emotional experience, a humbling one at the very least. Each time I visit these forests, like any true pilgrimage, there is a long internal integration for me afterwards.

So there I was. I lavished. I listened. I revered.

But no. I had heard that there were trees that most people never saw because the grove was kind of spread out. So what did I do? I had to follow a trail, that went up a 30 degree slope up to.. no where. I almost killed myself. I made track marks on the hill. I was completely possessed. It was too steep to go back down so I had to bushwhack over to a fallen giant and walk down it, but there were bushes growing over and I had a small pack and there was a 25 foot drop and I really almost killed myself there.

I couldn’t stop myself from such tree crimes and I was the biggest, baddest, bad tourist from out of state with selfishness and destruction in my two footed path.

And then I found the proper path back to the main trail, where a sign was waiting for me, reminding me of the damage I had done. There should have been someone there with handcuffs to send me to tree jail.

I could barely walk anymore so when I got back to the road, I hitched a ride back to my car, at which time I found that I had lost my cell phone. Ugh. Arrghhh!!! It was…no where! No in my car, not in my pack.. I drove back to the trail head and barreled back up the trail even though my body had previously called it a day until it was getting dark and I had to go back.

The next morning, an older guy with a Harley at the campground let me use his phone to call my phone and I discovered that my phone was still on and ringing. Incredible, as most areas where out of signal reach. Some nice folks in an RV (those RV retirees are an interesting and likeable breed of their own) let me use their phone to learn all about the horrible iterations one must go through to cancel their account and get a new phone. aaa. Not ready yet.

I forced myself to get a burner phone from the one store where I have never purchased anything – the store that does so much damage to so many people, towns and ecosystems – Walmart.

Then the trials of getting the damned phone registered and running. And charged. I went back to the trail. The burner phone lost signal. I started playfully asking every creature I saw if they would help me find my phone. “Hey Mr. Frog! Hey Ravens! Hey! Can you help me find my phone?” I was desperate. I also believe in these sorts of things.

I had to go back to that bad place where I had gone off the trail and walk again in the area where I never wanted to walk again.. ahhh!!! I immediately found a food wrapper – you know the kind that you see in the woods and you think “who in the hell would litter in a place like this?” – that had fallen out of MY back pocket. My pocket! My pocket had a major hole in it! Going further, feeling like a complete idiot for being there at all, I knew this was senseless.

But a miracle happened. My eyes just fell on my hat, that I didn’t even know I had lost, and my phone, a few feet away. In the middle of NO WHERE. Where NO ONE would have EVER found it, in a million years. (well maybe 6 months now that I know what’s been going on) Wow.

It was over half-way to the trees, so I saw them again, travail over and was able to relax a bit. I actually saw them 3 times in a few days because one of the trees, my favorite was incredibly hidden only 50 feet off the main trail.

On my way to camp, I spent a significant amount of time trying to make the entrances from the main trail look hidden. Then I sent messages to the bloggers who have posted their clues, begging them to remove them. It was such turmoil, such embarrassment, such a jaw-dropping, awe-striking experience to be there. But I did return that useless burner phone back to Walmart.

And then it took me a good amount of time to digest the whole experience.

So I never told anyone. Well, I told my mom. And some close friends, but I didn’t tell them where or the name of the grove. These ancient ones are literally being loved to death.

But now there is a way to help them, so my heart sings with joy as I entreat you to join me in preserving this gem. This place on the planet like no other that can never be recovered in a thousand years. That is how old these trees very possible could be.

Even if you can only give ten dollars, please, I beg of you, consider looking here. https://redwoodparksconservancy.org/save-grove-titans

Much love to you and the trees.

Tasara