In 1997, I took a couple of days off from my job in La Paz, Bolivia, and bought a bus ticket to the village of Uyuni so that I could visit the Salar de Uyuni. The Salar is the largest salt flat, 11,000 square km or about 4,400 square miles (see the image of Bolivia below), in the world. After a long, long bus ride that included getting off of the bus with the rest of passengers, slinging on my backpack (I learned years earlier to travel in Bolivia with a backpack and not a suitcase), and slogging across a swollen river that was too deep for the bus to cross to a waiting flat-bed truck that took the villagers and me the rest of the way to Uyuni. I spent the night in my sleeping bag behind the Catholic church in Uyuni and then caught a ride out onto the Salar the next morning where I booked a room for a couple of nights at a small hotel on the salt flat. The hotel itself was fascinating. The walls, floor, tables and chairs, and even beds were all constructed out of salt blocks. After a simple dinner I walked outside at sunset and then made the decision to take a real journey.
I walked for about thirty minutes, watched the sunset in the West, and then turned around in the twilight and picked out a constellation that was just visible over the hotel. I turned my back on the hotel and picked out a star that was just visible about three finger widths above the Western horizon and walked towards it for the next hour or so in the dark. When I finally turned around I couldn't even see the flickering lights of the candles in the salt-palace hotel. No problem, the constellation was still there. I laid down on the salt bed of the Salar and looked up into the night sky. I had never seen the night sky so vibrant, it seemed to be alive. The Milky Way was full of colors. As I laid on the salt tears streamed down my cheeks as I absorbed the beauty and majesty of the night sky . . . something our ancestors knew but something that most of us will never see.
After enjoying my time stargazing I turned around, found the constellation that I had picked out as my guide in the East and started walking towards it. About 70 minutes later I could see the lights of the salt hotel in the distance. The constellation wasn't right over top the hotel any more but a slight course correction got me back on track. The sky, the stars and planets, are like that. They can be our guides if we let them. To learn more about how the celestial forces influence us click here.
Sometime this Spring get out of the city, away from light pollution, and into nature. Check the weather forecast to make sure that your destination will have a clear sky. Get away, or at least away as possible, from all ambient light and then lay down on Pachamama and dive into the sky where Inti Tayta lives. See the sky as your ancestors saw it. Feel the energy of the planets and stars. Wonder at their influence on your life, they too have energy.
Have you ever been headed towards a conference room for a business meeting and felt the energy emanating from the room before you arrived. Does it feel positive and uplifting, exciting? Or does the energy drain you, leave you worried, upset, depressed, For example, if you feel negative energy emanating from the conference room you might do like I do and pause in the hall and spend a moment or two generating a silver protective energy egg around me, one that will reflect negative energy back to its source and insulate me from it.
I asked that question to start this blog post because we all have the ability to sense energy. I think that it is an ability that is deeply embedded in our genetics. Our ancestors needed to know when they were the prey and not the hunter. Can you "feel" a stare? They needed to sense if the silhouette that they saw on the ridge line in the distance was friend or foe. We have the same abilities, we just don't use them much and so they lie dormant within us.
The first part of learning to sense other people's energy fields is to realize that you are surrounded by your own energy field, and so is everyone else. When those energy come into contact and interference pattern is generated. Visualize throwing a pebble into a small pond and watch the waves move outwards in an ever expanding circle. That is your energy field. Now imaging (or do it for real the next time to are in nature) throwing two pebbles into the still pond. At first each wave circle is separate but eventually they will come into contact and when they do you will see the interference pattern generate. Practice feeling the contact point between your energy field and those of others for a few minutes every day.
Here is an exercise you can try with a partner. Stand straight and tall and well grounded with your eyes closed. Have your partner start walking very slowly towards you from about three meters or ten feet away. Say "Stop" when you feel the presence of your partner in your energy field. Take turns working on this exercise. With time and practice you will sense your partner from farther and farther away.
There are several ways to sense the auric fields of others when you are doing energy work. Ask the client or your partner to lay on a massage table (this works better if they are not laying on the floor). Move towards your client or partner with (1) your palms facing their body, (2) holding a pendulum, (3) holding divining rods, or (4) with a vibrating tuning fork. I'll describe my experience with each of these so you know what to expect, but don't take my word for it, practice and practice.
When I move my palms towards another person I feel one of two sensations. First I feel a slight tingling sensation in my palms when my palms touch the boundary of one of the energetic bodies. Each body seems to vibrate at a different speed and so the tingling sensation changes when I cross boundaries. I "feel" energy blockages as a pressure wave in the energy field; this is a spot where I feel a bit of resistance the the movement of my hands towards the body.
I use a wooden pendulum because it is lighter and responds more easily to the subtle energies of the human body than does a metal or crystal pendulum. One way to use a pendulum is to hold it still and then slowly move it towards a client or partner's body. It will deflect slightly as it crosses and energy boundary. It will deflect more strongly when an energy blockage is encountered. A more common use of pendulums is to test chakras. Place a still pendulum over a chakra. Within seconds, and usually less time, it will start to spin with the energy of the chakra. Remember that chakras are energy vorticies, whirlwinds, and so they move objects within their spinning field. The size and speed of the spin will give you an indication of the health or strength of the chakra. A chakra that spins clockwise, as seen from above, is unblocked. A chakra that spins counterclockwise is dysfunctional, it is dissipating energy rather than pulling it into the body. If your pendulum moves back and forth rather than spinning then the chakra is blocked. And finally, if the pendulum spins but in an oval shape rather than a in a circle the chakra is out of balance.
Divining rods can be used to find the boundaries of the different energy fields around a body. Hold the divining rods so that they both point straight ahead. I have found that they cross at the boundary between two energy bodies.
Tuning forks seem to be very good tools to help find energy blockages or stagnant energy. Set a tuning fork vibrating and then move it slowly towards your client or partner's body. You may sense resistance or a change in pitch when you encounter an energy blockage. The blockage changes the vibration rate of the tuning fork and thus affects its tone. Tuning forks, because a vibrating tuning fork emanates energy, can be used to shatter energy blockages and also to influence chakras. Each chakra has a corresponding tone working up the musical scale from C with the root chakra.
Play with energy, learn to use it to heal.
2019 is almost here and if you haven't purchased your calendar for 2019 you are probably thinking about it. Here is a list of pagan festival and full moon dates for 2019. Hope that it helps you plan your year.
In my last blog post I wrote about our energetic bodies. I this blog I want to explain one way to feel your own energy (qi or prana). It is a technique that I learned 20 years ago when I took my first Qi Gong Class, and if you care, I'm Certified Qi Gong Teacher. I still use this technique almost every day to gauge my Qi/Prana level. In fact, I often do this before my morning Qi Gong practice to check my energy level, and again afterwards. It will only take a few minutes so give it a try.
Here are my instructions:
Let me know if you would like me to record a video of this. Next time lets take a look at sensing other people's energy fields.
One well-known author and teacher of shamanism appears to think that he has "discovered" our energy body. His "discovery" is nothing new, but it appears to be a good marketing gimmick.
Practitioners of Ayurveda (ayur = life + veda = science, or the science of life) have known about our subtle bodies for at least 5,000 years. As shamanic practitioners we can do a great service to our clients if we are able to sense the state of their energetic body and work with it. In this blog I'll write about your energetic bodies from the point of view of Ayurveda. In the next blog(s) we will explore how to sense and then how to work with the energy bodies.
According to Ayurveda we don't have one body, but rather five. The first of these bodies is the Annamaya Kosha. Anna means "food" so the Annamaya Kosha is our food body, or the body that we construct from food. In other words, it is our physical body. Every builder needs a plan and the plan for your physical body is found in the other four bodies or sheaths that overlay the Annamaya Kosha.
The next body or overlaying sheath is the Pranamaya Kosha or the energy body or sheath. Energy goes by different names in different cultures. In India (Sanskrit) it is prana. In China it is Qi (pronounced "chi”), and in Japan it is Ki, as in Reiki. This sheath controls the flow of energy through our physical body through a system of subtle channels called Nadis, similar in concept to the meridians in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Our body also has numerous energy gates called Marmas (again similar to acupressure points in TCM) through which our energy body interacts with our physical body. These Marma points control the flow of energy to different body systems and organs, such as our heart, brain, stomach and liver.
The Manomaya Kosha (manas means mind) is the storehouse for memories, emotions, likes and dislikes and all the information we receive through our senses. Manomaya Kosha is often referred to as either our emotional or our mental (Chitta) body. Scientists are starting to question whether or not consciousness resides in the brain our outside of the body and the brain is just sophisticated transceiver that receives information from and sends data to consciousness. Ayurvedic physicians understood this millennia ago. To learn more about this you might enjoy Mark Gober’s book, An End to Upside Down Thinking: Dispelling the Myth That the Brain Produces Consciousness, and the Implications for Everyday Life.
The Manomaya Kosha is enclosed within the Vijnanamaya Kosha. Vijnana is usually translated as the thinker; the higher aspect of our mind (also known as Buddhi). This body provides us with our intelligence, discrimination, wisdom and compassion. When this sheath is strong then our mind and heart are free of agitation and are balanced and clear.
The fourth energetic body is the Anandamaya Kosha, (Ananda = bliss) or bliss body, or as some call it, our causal body. This body is the truest reflection of our Atman, the Self or Soul whose nature is Sat-Chit-Ananda (pure-bliss-consciousness).
The physical body, the annamaya kosha consists of energy that vibrates very slowly and consequently appears to our physical eyes to be solid, even though at the atomic level it is mostly empty space. The other four koshas, or energetic layers or subtle bodies, create an interconnected field of energy around the physical body that is commonly known as the auric field. Each subtle body connects into the physical body via an energy point or chakra, which directs the energy into the physical body via the nadi or meridian system.
The outer bodies and the chakras in essence act as step-down transformers that decrease energy levels until they are able to condense and form the physical body. The energetic state of all of the koshas determines our level of mental, emotional and physical well-being. This also means that energy imbalances in the outer koshas will eventually be manifest in the physical body as dis-ease. Consequently when we heal the energy koshas we heal the body. This, by the way, is the basic premise of Bach Flower Remedies.
Energy is everything,
This is probably going to be a short blog but I hope that it will make you think and maybe we can start a conversation among all of us rather than just me writing and you reading. It would be nice.
As I visit shamanism web pages and read the advertisements in magazines it seems that more and more shamanism is becoming a psychological practice. It is being uses by more and more psychologists and counselors as a tool in their practice. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad that (1) it is being used, and (2) that it is helping people.
However when I lived in Bolivia and Peru (6 years) and learned from Andean shamans (curanderos) their concern and the concerns of the people who came to them for help wasn't for help with psychological issues. I understand that dis-ease is, in most cases, and energetic issue. Imbalances start in the subtle energy fields that surround our bodies and gradually work inwards where they eventually manifest as physical symptoms. Consequently we can often facilitate the healing of chronic conditions by addressing energy imbalances.
My concern is that as a shamanic community we risk focusing only on psychological issues and forget the shamanism is a whole-person tool.
I'm curious, what do you think? You can click here to comment.
Some time ago I shared my daily invocation with you. You can read it here if you would like. I came across a poem that would make a great invocation should you care to use it. It also might inspire you to compose your own. Here is Victoria's morning prayer:
A Morning Prayer
by Victoria S (Leona Oigheag)
Hail to the Ancestors
of Blood and Bone,
of Heart and Spirit.
You who raised us, taught us, made us,
Remind us of your good lessons.
Hail to the Nature Spirits
of plant and animal,
of the elements of Nature,
You who share this world with us,
Remind us of our connection.
Hail to the Shining Ones
of sea and sky,
of this land and others,
You who share your blessings with us,
Remind us of our relationships.
Hail to the Ancestors,
Hail to the Nature Spirits,
Hail to the Shining Ones
Hail to the Kindreds.
May your blessings be with us always.
I was reading the great Celtic epic, Táin Bó Cuailnge, or "The Cattle Raid of Cooley" last night and came across a description of an evening lull in the battle. The two protagonists and foster brothers, Cúchulainn and Ferdiad get together . . .
Cúchlainn and Ferdiad threw their spears into the arms of their charioteers, and came up to each other and put their arms around the other and exchanged three kisses. Their horses passed that night in the same enclosure, and the charioteers shared the same fire and they made up beds of rushes for the wounded men. Druids came and put healing herbs in Cúchulainn's wounds, but they could do little but chant spells and lay magic amulets onthem to staunch the spurts of blood for the deepness of the wounds.
Note the role of the Druids? From this short passage we learn that among their many skills they were herbalists. Natural healing techniques and herbology are great skills to add you to shamanic tool kit. If you are interested in herbology then drop me a note and I'll add periodic blog posts about my favorite herbs.
Peace my friends,
P.S. If you haven't read the Táin then here is a good plot summary.
In my last two blog posts I wrote about working with energy. If you read the blogs then you should remember that energy follows the mind. You can lead energy with your thoughts. I went to the park with my family this afternoon and while the teenagers played basketball I sat under a cedar tree and played tunes on one of my Native American flutes. While playing I watched cotton-ball clouds drift by overhead.
I decided to practice cloud bursting. Developing the ability to play with the clouds is one of the first step in developing weather shamanism skills. The objective of cloud bursting is to pick out a cloud in the sky and dissolve with you your intent, with your mind. I suggest that you start with a fairly small, wispy cloud. Cirrus clouds work great for this. Pick out a cloud, focus your eyes and your intent on erasing the cloud from the sky. Once you send your intent you can relax and just watch the cloud. Work you way up from cirrus clouds to more dense and larger clouds like cumulus clouds.
Once you have develop the ability to focus your intent and dissolve clouds try to do the opposite. Pick out a small cloud and use your intent to make it grow. Once you have mastered that skill you might try moving a cloud or merging two clouds into a larger cloud. When you start to practice cloud merger or cloud movement do it on a day when the clouds are stationary.
You will probably be surprised by how many things you can influence with your intent. But, for the next week or two practice cloud bursting and then growing clouds. I'll post another blog in a couple of weeks on other weather shamanism skills you might work on developing.
Peace my friends,
In my last blog post I wrote about shamanism as energy medicine. At the end of that post I told you that I would share a couple of ideas about learning to sense subtle energy. We are going to look at the following:
You will need a partner or willing victim to practice the first two of these skills because you are going to test someone else's energy.
To perform chakra testing you will need a pendulum. I prefer wooden pendulums, they are less likely to cut the spinning energy of the chakra than will a metal pendulum. Have your partner lay flat on the floor, massage table, or bed. Make sure you know where the chakras are located (see image above). Hold you pendulum several inches above the root chakra. Hold your pendulum as still as you can, wait for your partner's energy field to start to spin the chakra. A circular, clockwise spin, as seen looking down from above, indicates a balanced and correctly. A non-circular spin indicates an out of balance chakra. An immobile pendulum or one that moves horizontally across the body indicates a blocked chakra. Often all of the chakras above a blocked chakra will be blocked, weak, or out of balance. Finally, a chakra the spins counter-clockwise indicates a chakra that is emitting or sending energy out of the body, rather than pulling it in.
Applied Clinical Kinesiology
Applied clinical kinesiology, also called muscle testing, has been around for a long, long time. It was one of the first techniques that I learned as an N.D. student 20 years ago. This is a good tool to show the effect of thoughts and substances on the body. Ask your partner to stand tall and hold one are straight out to the side. Ask them to think and happy or truthful though, place your index and middle fingers on your partner's arm midway between their writs and elbow and ask them to resist as you push down. Most people should be able to hold their arm horizontal while you press down. Relax. Now ask them to hold the same position and to remember one of the saddest moments in their life. Tell them to resist as you press down. You will most likely be able to press their arm all the way down to their side with little effort.
You can use the same technique to test for allergies or the usefulness of supplements. Ask the person to hold the substance in question in their other hand over their heart center, ask them to ask the question, "Is this what my body needs right now?" while you tell them to resist and press down. If their arm is week then their energy system is telling them that the substance will reduce their energy level, ie, not so good for them.
In our shamanic energy healing course we go through a set of applied clinical kinesiology tests that use acupressure points to test different body systems, to test the wellness of each system.
This final tool is one that you can experience alone. Qi follows the breath which follows the mind. This means that you can lead Qi with you mind and with your breath. Stand relaxed but straight and tall. Feel as if a this string is pulling your head up so that your spine in vertical. Hold your hands, palms facing each other and about an inch apart, in front of you navel. As you inhale visualize energy flowing up from deep inside the earth, rushing up your legs and up to your shoulders. As you exhale visualize the energy rushing down your arms and out your palms. Think of your palms and emitting energy to each other. As you do this you might want to separate your palms a little with each inhale and bring them close together, but not touching, with each exhale. Practice this for about five minutes. It's a good meditative practice. Most people start to feel a tingling sensation on each palm. This is often followed by the feeling that there is something almost solid between the palms. When you start to feel resistance when you move your hands together on an exhalation, then let them move a bit farther apart. As you continue to feel resistance and the shape of something between your palms know that you are forming a Qi ball, a real ball of energy. When you finish bring the Qi ball towards your navel and place your palms on your lower abdomen about two inches below your navel to store the Qi in your lower Dan Tien. If you don't feel the Qi ball the first time then keep practicing. I have found that about 50 percent of people are able to feel it the first time they try to form a Qi ball, and that it takes others a few more times to feel it.
I have placed a free pdf document on Qigong for Health on the resource page if you would like to learn more about Qi andQigong (Energy Practice).
I'm Dr. Dave, an eclectic shaman. I lived and worked in Bolivia and Peru for over six years, where I and was trained by Andean Shamans, and today practice eclectic shamanism.