Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Forests, Competition and the Circle of Life

I recently spent a week up in the Scottish highlands for a conservation project with an organisation called Trees for Life. The main focus of the charity is replanting the Caledonian forest, which has been destroyed by human activities through the course of centuries. Some of the destruction was due to material needed for warfare, while farming, commercial hunting and the disappearance of large predators also played a role. On this week I was in training to lead conservation volunteers, and I had to assist with planting demonstrations and other conservation activities. Talking to the land and the trees is habitual for me, but my practical conservation knowledge is limited. So when I led the planting demonstration, I mostly did it by the book.

During the activity, a volunteer asked whether it is necessary to remove grass from the surrounding turf to eliminate competition and give the newly planted tree the best chance to survive. I passed the question on to another facilitator, and he said that because machine mounding had been done, the terrain was prepared. The practice of removing the top layer of vegetation around the tree might have been required if this weren’t the case. In the meantime, however, I have learned that results are poorer when this is done.

The plantation in the distance and clear land in the
foreground. It is difficult to imagine that most of
the land was once covered by natural forests.
We were working in the heart of a plantation. Looking around at the imposing non-native trees planted in rows with almost militant precision, our task of recreating a near-natural forest was daunting to say the least. Those small native trees have to be given the best chance to survive, and planting is hard work and time-consuming. I find it almost heart-breaking to think of the beauty and tranquillity of natural forests that could be destroyed so easily through aggression, greed and short-sightedness. The effort to rebuild is painstaking, and the irony is that if we left Nature to her own devices she would create a majestic work of art, without being paid for it and seemingly with no effort, just because life. If only we could learn how to work with nature, how to be nature, then maybe we could leave a legacy for generations after us without destroying what should be available to them.

That idea, competition. In terms of conservation ecology when one is trying to give nature a helping hand, it makes sense. Those tiny trees have been cultivated by human hands with a lot of care before they are given a proper home. Working with them in the nursery, I get a sense of excitement, as if they can’t wait to push their roots deep down into the earth and reach up, little by little every year, to drink in light from the sun and touch the stars. They have to be protected, otherwise all the sweat and love that have been poured into them go to waste. A good idea rots if not properly applied, but if it doesn’t work after having been given the right kind of effort, the energy moves on to be used elsewhere.

Nonetheless, I have to reflect on how our ingrained ideas springing from millennia of conditioning influence our understanding of nature. Looking at nature, I see a circle of life, and in her presence I feel connection and flow. There is a clash in my soul between this calm presence and society’s idea that we need to fight for some things and compete for others. Seeds grow when there is a proper place for them to do so, and a healthy ecosystem is established when different species work together as one organism. When the life force is behind it, the right time for everything to grow and decay establishes itself. This is the sacred energy that many people feel in natural forests. Somehow I can’t help wondering if our beliefs that some people deserve life more than others, and some ideas are worth defending more than others, cause the imbalance that ruins the harmonious working together of organisms. I wonder, if we stop aligning with ideologies that exclude others from our family, whether the idea of competition would also fade away. Maybe then we could approach our homes and relationship with those outside of our homes as an ecosystem, where there are no defined boundaries, but wellness on a small scale can be expanded indefinitely no matter what the size of the population is.

It is clearly preposterous to think that one part of a forest has to compete with another part of a forest. A forest would be boring if one species had to reign supreme or if other species were extinguished. There is space for everyone, and where only one thing can grow in any particular place, the species that would be able to adapt best would be the survivor. I could imagine that other plants would willingly step aside and say, “Clearly this is a better place for you, so I would find another place to thrive. I’ll sit on the hilltop and talk to you while you stand in the shade.”

I’m hoping that those of us who have the privilege of spending time in nature will take her wisdom back to the concrete jungle with us. I have faith that the more we bring our forgotten human nature to our disconnected lifestyles, the more we would see healthy forests in our living spaces, and the less land would be used for purposes of exploitation and conflict. I wonder if the idea of eliminating competition to ensure the success of our own enterprises, even in conservation projects, would eventually be replaced by one of consciously working together to restore harmony on earth.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Clouds and Dreams

Nature talks to us, and often reveals to me something about what’s going on in my own mind. Clouds have caught my attention over the last week, especially the wispy kind that drifts in a clear blue sky. In Scotland where most days are marked by an overcast sky, these light clouds are pleasing to the eye. To me clouds represent dreaming, and reflecting on them I gained insight into the relationship between ideas and action.

Clouds vary in shape and form. They represent illusion in the sense that they appear soft like cotton, but consist of water. They are continually in motion, moved by currents that are invisible to the eye. It is easy to see a vision in clouds, signifying the uniqueness of each person’s point of view. The perceived shape is never true to the actual shape of the cloud, and since it changes all the time, it reminds of the fluid character of dreams. Clouds vary in tone, more so when the sun is shining. Where an endless blue sky can become monotonous, clouds that reflect the interplay between light and darkness give character to the heavens. The overcast aspect of clouds indicate the collective nature of thought and reality: while each perspective is unique, we also co-create the world through the way we dream together.

Representation of the World Tree:
the Shamanic Model of the Spiritual Realm
In the shamanic model of the spiritual world, there are three aspects which are connected to one another through the symbolic world tree: the upper, middle and lower worlds. In my experience, the upper world is the realm of wisdom, guidance and creativity, and often the place where inspiration is found. The middle world is the one where we assert ourselves, and the lower world signifies power and earth energies. To reach the upper world, a shaman needs to move his consciousness up the world tree and through a boundary that indicates the limit of the middle world. From there she has access to the universe of light represented by the sun, the moon and the stars, marked by freedom from the heaviness of the earthbound realm. Perhaps because of their dreamy attribute, I see the border between upper and middle worlds as a layer of clouds. The realm of the upper world is marked by infinity, but the creative energy of the universe can only take unique expression within boundaries, otherwise it becomes lost. From this perspective, clouds represent the thought processes beyond which we have to move to get inspiration, but to establish these ideas, we have to return to the material world where we act. Clouds contain the elements of air and water, indicating that intellect and emotion work together in the creative process. The light or fire on the other side of clouds signifies Source that acquires depth through the individual perception of its contrast with the shadows.

One element that is missing from clouds is earth, which represents the material reality. When it comes to dreaming, the biggest challenge is often how to give structure to our visions in a world ruled by restrictions. Clouds can never be captured, and by the time their substance reaches the earth, their form is lost. The dreamer can, however, plant seeds, and build on what he would like to see grow. When seeds are planted and nurtured under the right conditions, at least some of them will find a way to grow, aided by the sun and the coming down of the clouds. There is a lot that the planter has no control over, and this illustrates that although working with love is necessary, trust is also required. While dreams can reveal something of our connection to the universal mind, the matter that we work with doesn’t truly belong to us, and sometimes it’s best to let the universe decide how and in what way our dreams will come to fruition. The dreamer is an instrument of universal will as much as the entirety of creation is an expression of something we cannot know or understand.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Faith as a Choice

Much of what we learn in any system is based on a reasonable amount of certainty. In life we value security, which depends on certainty. We do certain jobs because we are fairly sure we will be able to survive in that way. We act around people in a way that we know they would find acceptable. We can take for granted that we would need to pay the rent every month, and if we have enough money we will be able to get by. From this perspective, our world is constructed through faith in something, and often the agent that determines our reality is far removed. We can trust that economists, scientists or successful people know how everything works, but when it comes to the everyday experience, most of us have little control over the demands of our modern lifestyle. The effort involved in keeping going serves as a welcome distraction from the need to find answers as to why things are the way they are.

Faith is a central theme in religious and spiritual frameworks. Through these practices, the gaze moves inward and salvation is sought through cultivating a strong and positive character. This can then serve as a counter-agent to those outside forces that affect our well-being in a negative way. In these traditions, doubt is often portrayed as the crippling agent that causes the seeker to deviate from their path. Certainty in what one believes in in this context is an important precursor to personal freedom. In science, faith in what cannot be determined empirically has a bad reputation as it is not conducive to factual knowledge. Probability and argument provide the framework, but certainty and objectivity are still the ideals that are strived for in a quest to gain knowledge. Where there is doubt, it is only considered useful to the extent that it indicates lack of certainty. Even scientists have faith in their methodology, which is intertwined with subjective judgement of whether the knowledge gained is valuable or not.

A lot of motivational speakers I have encountered have highlighted the importance of believing in oneself as a necessary precursor to success. I think it’s true; I have found that if I don’t believe in myself I have almost zero chance of achieving something. But the human psyche is more complex than that. Often belief in oneself is lost through some kind of pain or rejection, or even psychological domination by another. I think a good illustration of the principle is the black consciousness movement in apartheid South Africa, where leaders such as Steve Biko have shown how mass oppression was possible through psychological control. Where self-confidence is lost, it often indicates a wound that needs slow and gradual recovery for an integrated, empowered psyche to emerge.

In all these frameworks, certainty and faith are the cornerstones for building something of value. The question of what the value of doubt is, if there is any value at all, remains. I have often been lost in doubts, and felt worse for it when people who felt very strongly about their spiritual views have reprimanded me for it. I think doubt is necessary as it creates space for enhanced perspective. Where there is blind faith, one can be disillusioned, and where there is absolute belief in anything, it is easy for someone to take advantage of one’s consciousness. History has shown the destructive power of belief in an ideology where people can be led to commit evil deeds without questioning their own actions.

Doubt is not easy to handle, especially in a world where those who are most certain of themselves often emerge as winners regardless of whether or not they are actually right. I think that every seeker of life and its mysteries comes to a point where they feel deeply uncertain about themselves and their understanding of reality. But I think that doubt is as necessary for growth as faith. Doubt provides the opportunity to review our priorities. In that way, we can consciously choose where to apply our efforts according to our own values and principles. The power of faith is illustrated through the placebo effect, and there is a reason why every single therapeutic treatment or medicine has to be tested against a placebo. In medicine, faith in one’s own ability to recover is the one thing that has consistently been proven to be effective.

In a universe where little can be known with absolute certainty, and even then only a small segment of reality, the power of faith to me shows the importance of taking charge of one’s own psyche. When faced with the unknown that is at the heart of important questions such as which path is the right one to choose for one’s life, the creative potential of faith is enormous. In a sea of possibilities, faith is the tool to bring into being the things we love most, and to transcend darkness in our deepest moments of despair. Doubt encourages humility, and also serves as a reminder to investigate different points of view before deciding our stance. Where we cannot be right or certain of everything, faith is the best chance we have of creating the world according to our vision.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Contemplating the Ocean

I find the ocean to be a curious reflection of our own make-up as humans. The largest proportion of the earth’s surface comprises oceans, much like our bodies predominantly consist of water. The ocean’s water is salty, and so is human blood. Tides are ruled by the moon, as is the female menstrual cycle. The ocean affects climate and weather cycles, which also impact our sources of food and shelter. Oceans can be a means of transport, but they aren’t free from danger. Despite the destructive power of the ocean, it has a calming effect on my mind.

One of the fascinating aspects of the ocean is its depth. Even those humans who venture into the ocean can barely skim the surface. The seas have shaped our collective history as humans and yet the average person knows little about it. When chunks of the ocean become frozen, only the tip of the iceberg is visible above water. At deep levels there is very little light, and the magnitude of life at those depths evades our understanding. Where land meets sea, the waves that crash on the shores have been travelling for miles on end.

In mystical and psychological terms the ocean is symbolic of the unconscious mind. To me this portrays how much of what we experience in our daily lives is influenced by a hidden realm where there are multitudes of unknown life forms. As humans we grow in the water of the womb before we are born as individuals. Our corporeal incubation in water cannot be remembered, and I think the same applies to our consciousness. The vastness of the ocean can only be felt through contemplation. The waters of the seas are all connected to one another. When we touch the waters we have access to, we interact with the depths and the life forms residing in them.

In astrology and Roman mythology two major archetypes are associated with the ocean: Venus and Neptune. In astrology both are linked with love and artistic inspiration. Water is also the realm of emotion, and to me this illustrates how inspiration springs from unknown places in ourselves, mediated by emotion. The uncontrollable aspect of water tells me something about the nature of love. Very little is known about the depths that move us, but few actions are worthwhile unless inspired by the power of love.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Symbolism in the Mundane: a Message from Feathers

I love seeing symbolism in the mundane, and recently I have found a message in the way feathers appeared to me. Feathers are useful tools for me in my energy healing work, but I have been without them for almost two years. This is because I moved to a different continent and could take very little with me. I left my feathers behind — ironically because they would not have caused problems with my baggage limitations — thinking that I would find new ones. I also reasoned that I had to be able to do healing work with or without the tools.

In the year and a half that I was in Scotland before returning to South Africa for a visit, I did not find a single feather, despite visiting the park on a daily basis and embarking on a few trips to the wild highlands. Back in South Africa I found to my delight that my old eagle and owl feathers, which I had left at my mother’s house, were still intact. I also found some more guinea fowl feathers and this time I took all of them with me on my return to Scotland. Since my arrival back, there have been feathers everywhere.

The feathers I had were special to me due to my relationship with the birds in question. The eagle appeared as a symbol of courage during one of my first encounters with spiritual healing, and is also the inspiration for my first novel, In Search of the Golden City. I have been drawn to owls since I was a child, and they came to me particularly in times of need. The owl feather I have came from barn owls that nested in our chimney. One of the birds got stuck and we had to rescue it. It was quite an emotional experience, especially when we saw that as soon as it was free, it joined another one in flight that had been waiting for it. Owls have also appeared to me in dreams a few times, often before or after I saw one in the physical world.

To me the message in the sudden abundance of feathers was one of cherishing what I have and believing in my own connection with spirit. This also relates to the process of soul retrieval, where healing is done through recovering lost aspects of the self. To bring the best of myself to the world, I have to use everything I have been given and be careful of discarding it due to the demands of the material world. If I honour what is precious to me, I will see more of it in the world around me. However, if I leave it behind thinking that there will be more to come, its presence in my life will diminish.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Step One: Stop Creating the Problem

It’s easy to push one’s hopes and dreams aside when entangled in life’s challenges. While trying to keep up with the pace of modern life, we don’t find time for doing what we love, never mind think about how to change direction. Often it’s true that for a limited time one cannot find one’s way out of a hard place, but when misery becomes a never-ending cycle it could be a comfort zone that one is too afraid to step out of. Life can be harsh at times and it’s tempting to turn misfortune into an excuse to avoid finding one’s way.

There is no way out of the web of fear and worry if one continues to spin it through one’s daily actions. Part of the problem is our dependence on others who all spin their own webs that interact with ours. This is especially true when it comes to financial matters. But when one has a vision for one’s life, I believe that motivated action and perseverance will bring it into being. When we don’t know the way from where we are to where we want to be, the first step is to stop creating the problem. While we cannot stop participating in all our problems at once, we could look at what is closest to home and begin with what we can change. It could be as simple as choosing to look beyond perceived limitations, or facing one of our fears that we have been unwilling to deal with.

When the wheel has been set in motion and the will to change is present, I have found that allowing one’s actions to revolve around fear becomes increasingly unbearable. While courage builds, spaces open up where one has let go of filling one’s days with meaningless activity. In these empty spaces where we learn to find our feet, our strength of resolve is tested. It is here that we have to confront the voices of self-doubt that try to persuade us that we are smaller than our vision has shown us we can be. Here we have to resist the temptation to return to our old ways and be willing to step into the unknown.

As soon as we stop re-creating our problems, a multitude of possibilities open up. In this space we see that the world does not define our potential, but we define the world. To change a problem, the best (and sometimes hardest) place to start is with ourselves.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

The Doorway to the Universe

Science tells us that the universe started 13.8 billion years ago with a Big Bang and is in a state of continuous expansion. Nowadays there is also the Multiverse theory, which states that different universes are possible. The former tries to understand our place in the universe by looking at the past, supposing that the process of creation (or the beginning of everything) is complete. Interestingly, both science (as with the Big Bang theory) and religion (as in the Biblical creation myth), often vehemently opposed to one another, adopt this point of view. The Multiverse theory to me offers a view that I can relate to. In the mystery of life I can be open to the idea that all is created and destroyed unremittingly. We are part of the universe and through our choices we participate in the creation of our own worlds.

In the hassles of daily life I often feel disconnected from the Source that connects everything. In special moments the universe comes alive and I can commune with the Centre where parallel worlds meet. In that place, Creation is contained in every moment and everything. When theory and instruction fail to open the doorway to the universe, I find that sincerity is the most useful tool. Through genuine intent, the individual heart opens to the Heart of everything and potential comes to light. Sincerity entails communicating with the truth of one’s being, whether it is desirable or not. Through embracing all aspects of the self, we come closest to our own known universe. In that honest space, the external universe does not hide from our eyes either.

Sincerity takes us to a place outside of time and space where experience matters. In this way, memories of our common origins with all known things are activated.

Friday, 3 April 2015


In modern spirituality I find that judgement is often judged. Many people have had painful experiences due to religious judgement. This is ironic because in Christianity, the religion that I grew up with, there is a principle of non-judgement.  I was taught that we shouldn’t judge, because only God has the right to judge. This however does not work well when some followers of a religion see themselves as God’s ambassadors. One of the teachings of Jesus is that it is better not to judge, because the judgement we pass on others will also be bestowed on us. My understanding of this principle is that our judgement of others is an expression of our relationship with ourselves.

The Tarot also has a card devoted to judgement: the twentieth card in the major Arcana. The
Judgement: the 20th Card in the
Major Arcana of the Tarot
symbolism relates to resurrection and again brings to mind the Biblical notion of the day of judgement. In a lot of decks the card features an angel with a trumpet and naked people being resurrected from their graves. Some decks (such as Rider-Waite) also feature a St George’s cross.

When I read the Tarot, I look at how the card speaks to me. There is a suggestion of the duality of heaven and earth, symbolised by the angel and the humans. Furthermore, the cross is a symbol of matter and the red colour corresponds to the root chakra, representing our connection to earth. Red is also the colour of blood, reminding of our humanity. The white background to the cross signifies the purity of spirit and the unification of all colours of light. While the earthbound existence could be dreary and heavy, as expressed through the theme of death, responding to the call of heaven (or soul) can bring new life to it. Interestingly, the resurrected people are naked, which brings to mind Adam and Eve’s harmonious co-existence with God in the Garden of Eden before the fall. Being naked means no longer hiding aspects of the self from oneself, and that includes mistakes. Through looking at oneself with honest eyes, forgiveness of the self is possible, which in turn fosters tolerance for others.

Judgement represents an opportunity for learning. While corporeal existence is by no means perfect, there are glimpses of paradise even in the mundane. Those moments where everything is in harmony remind us of the love at the core of our being. Through having a body and an ego identity, we can create ourselves through the choices we make. When we become aware of where our actions have harmed ourselves and others, we can correct our mistakes. When others have hurt us, we can show compassion towards them, understanding how they have acted out of their own pain and lack of knowledge as we often do when we hurt others. Being naked also serves as a reminder that we are all human, regardless of our social standing. The fault we find in others is a projection of the inadequacies we perceive in ourselves.

To me the final judgement ultimately means taking full responsibility for one’s actions. When one no longer looks to a moral authority outside of the self to dictate one’s behaviour, one is free to make mistakes and to learn from them. Judging others inappropriately is also a valid mistake, because no person can ever know the full truth of another person’s perception. However, in the material world where we forge our own human identities, there are experiences that we might not wish to have in relation to other people, as well as practices that we do not condone. The capacity to judge in this case is a responsibility to honour our own truth and to speak and act on it if we choose to. Taking responsibility for our own choices also involves understanding that others are responsible for theirs.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Movement, Injury and Emotion

The psyche interacts with the material world in a mysterious way. Studies such as these show how our religious thinking influences the shape of our social environment. The individual psyche also has a relationship with the body. I find that physical distress is often an expression of what goes on in my subconscious mind, indicating where I need healing personally. In this article I offer my reflections on my most recent physical injury (a broken ankle) and consider what I needed to learn about myself in the process of recovery.

The last few months have been a time of overhaul in my working life. Years of searching for ways to work in a meaningful way have culminated to a point where I was challenged to put my ideas into practice. The process has not been as smooth as I had hoped. Apart from the administrative side of organising a new job, one of my biggest challenges has been my vulnerability. Going on my own as a healer requires me to take a stand for what I believe in regardless of whether or not mainstream views endorse energy healing practices. In addition, sharing my writing with the world means that I have to be ready for criticism. I had decided to take the steps and was willing to face whatever would come my way, whether I felt ready for it or not.

Right when I thought I was all set, I broke my ankle while running. The accident presented new trials. The impact it had on my emotional well-being was significant. I could put mind over matter as far as the pain was concerned because I knew that it would not last for ever. But the lack of exercise was not conducive to a happy mood. I felt frustrated having very little control over my physical environment. I had to rely on other people even for simple things – something which I found difficult seeing that I value my independence.

In the run up to the start of my self-employed career as a healer and writer, I have been in constant dialogue with spiritual guidance. Through my dreams and meditations I have received the message that I had to continue taking steps but also be patient while I build up the strength that I would need to put my plans into action. Knowing the boundary between doing my best and trying too hard has been difficult. I still don’t have an answer, but I believe the injury has shown me the fears I had not taken into account.

If I interpret my injury on a symbolic level, I would say that I had wanted to move too fast without taking proper care of myself in the conditions. The accident involved cold temperatures and water, which is symbolic of the realm of emotion. Since I slipped on ice in an attempt to avoid stepping into water, I think there is a message about being willing to face unpleasant feelings. If I had opted for the discomfort of flowing water, I would have avoided the danger of frozen water. Since running is a performance driven sport, I recognise that there is an indication of fear of failure. Although I am no longer so competitive, running represents a way of controlling my mood and my body with the desired outcome of remaining positive and strong.

In my attempt to take charge of my destiny, I have been unwilling to give my weak, vulnerable self an equal say in the matter. Where that part of me has protested that I am not ready, I have pushed her aside in favour of the aspect of me that wants to take control through action. But without all the parts, action can only be so powerful before the segment that takes too much strain breaks. My excessive need for control points back to lack of confidence. Relying on others, which I had to do while my ankle was broken, strengthens trust that there will be support when I need it. I could cut myself some slack in my efforts to get ahead and practise being gentle to myself.

Most injuries heal even though it takes time. I had been impatient for the plaster to be removed, but when the time came closer, I was strangely afraid. I could not remember what it felt like to be able to walk normally and had fallen into a comfort zone within my limitations. My fear was justified: my foot was extremely weak and painful when it no longer had support. But pain is also necessary for recovery. I reflected on how easy it is to become attached to protection even when it no longer serves the healing process. The skill in re-learning how to move efficiently lies in finding the balance between embracing a healthy amount of discomfort and taking care of one’s vulnerable spots. If I had known how to do it properly I might not have broken my ankle to begin with. Hopefully, the experience has taught me the value of my support systems. Hopefully, also, I am learning how to do my best while still being kind to myself.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Ancestral Healing and the Sins of the Fathers

My journey on the path of healing started with mental illness. In my teenage years, I believed myself to be depressed because I was not as happy as I thought I was supposed to be. My energy levels were low when I tried to reduce my natural rhythms to fit into a container  something I felt I had to do in order to survive. I was told that I was genetically predisposed to mental illness and I believed it. Yet something in me could not accept that I had to live as someone with a broken brain. Whereas coping seemed to be the goal of therapy, I wanted to actually heal. At the time I thought healing meant feeling alright as a normal person, but true healing turned out to be something entirely different: owning the right to take charge of my life. In this article I will look at how ancestral patterns can be changed through energy healing as an alternative to believing in mental illness.

In my late teens and early twenties, I saw spiritualists who more or less consistently told me that I was a healer. I did not understand it, because I thought that one had to be sorted out before one could help others, and I wasn’t. Only when I learned about shamanism did I come across the concept of the initiatory crisis, which is the start of a healer’s path. Across many cultures, the healer is called through an experience of physical or mental illness. When they accept their destiny, the symptoms subside and the healer starts working with the spiritual realms to bring healing to others. My path started making sense, but still it took time to undo the ingrained notion of broken genes as an unfortunate aspect of one’s physical package. The wise teachers I had knew better than to accept a scientific framework that the average person cannot verify.

In my honours year in psychology at university, my lecturer of ecopsychology seemed to lean towards spirituality, which was surprising in the academic environment. Our prescribed text book was Ecological Intelligence by Ian McCallum. The book also touches on how closely our genes are shared with animals such as lions and primates. During one of the lectures, our lecturer did a guided meditation into the subconscious, symbolised by the ocean. The assignment was for each student to identify and change a belief that no longer served them. The principle was that beliefs are projected on the world around us, which creates our experience. Someone asked about the influence of genes, and he said that once a belief is changed in the subconscious, it is not transferred genetically. At the time I did not find the meditation effective, but from my current perspective I can see that in a way he was right. I also understand why it was not helpful at the time: the healing power of the subconscious is strongest when it is listened to rather than commandeered.

A few years later I saw another healer who works in a shamanic way. She also told me that once healing is done, the issue does not return because a change has been made in the akashic records, which can be understood as an astral plane where information about everything that has ever happened is held. I was sceptical because I found my own problems to be recurrent and consequently was wary of quick fixes. Again, I see that she was right in a way. I think the subconscious works slowly, like the ocean.  A deep-seated issue may take some time to come to the surface. When there is a lot of water, it’s best dealt with a little bit at a time, and only when a person is truly ready will conscious action be taken.. The surrounding water then has to adapt to the flow; a person cannot change one issue and expect all other aspects of their life to remain intact. But when a problem is changed, it does not need to recur unless by choice. The process of healing is, however, continuous and often disruptive.

When I learned more about practical shamanism in 2010, we did a journeying exercise to change an ancestral issue. The principle was that energy is passed on through generations. An ancestral problem may still affect us, but when it is changed on an energetic level, the trouble can leave our lives. The journey was different from the guided meditation I did in the psychology class because we looked to find the cause of the issue rather than impose our will on the subconscious. It also involved talking to the ancestors to find out what it was that had troubled them and how it could be healed. In this way we showed love to the ancestors, which was also a way of loving the broken aspect of ourselves. Where the ancestor asked for a follow up ritual as part of the healing, the action taken showed commitment to change in the present physical world. The issue I wanted to address had to do with violence, because two of my family members had died violent deaths and at the time I thought that there was a karmic connection with another family member’s service to an arms company. What I found in the journey surprised me. About three or four generations before me there was an issue with rejected love. It seemed to be far removed from the problem I had wanted to address, but nevertheless I gave love to the woman I did not know and completed the letting go ritual. Almost five years later I can see the difference it made, mostly in terms of improved relationships. The healing happened in ripples, affecting areas of my life that I did not at the time see as connected to the problem. Change also required conscious action and the more one changes something, the more there is to deal with. It may sound overwhelming, but in truth it is empowering, because unconscious influences are easier recognised and less likely to rule one’s decisions.

In 2013-2014 I did a master’s degree in classics, which basically means ancient Greek and Latin. The main focus was ancient civilisations, slavery and mythology. I did it for different reasons, most of which I thought had little to do with my healing path. But looking at the myths and history of the Mediterranean 2000 to 4000 years ago, I found many elements that I could connect with the present world reality, largely in terms of the abuse of power enabled by false semblances of authority. Strangely, the mythology that I dealt with also had direct connections with the start of my healer’s path and the ancestral issue I looked at. My dissertation focused on the myth of the Golden Age, which originated as a variant of the concept of the fall from paradise but acquired a political significance in Augustan Rome. The most meaningful concept I learned from the myth is that of legal regulation being absent in a just society. The phenomenon of a just father-figure that regulates the order to prevent societal decay produces injustice and warfare. The control of the female sexuality, which to me symbolises our connection with nature and the will to emotional freedom, goes hand in hand with exploitation of others in the construction of a hierarchical society that best serves a few patriarchs.

It is not an uncommon notion that globally we are undergoing a shift in consciousness. Many people find that the old way of doing things are no longer working. Many others feel traumatised as they need to deal with old baggage. Looking at the issues I had to deal with in my family and the problems humanity have faced for millennia, I now understand that we carry many generations of ancestral baggage in our genes, but it can be changed if we deal with it consciously and with love. It is not a natural programming out of our control that should determine who we are, but the result of conditioned fear that has become a pattern. Scientific experiments have also confirmed that acquired responses can be transferred genetically (see for instance this article). When a person in present day and age starts to experience psychological discomfort, it is an indication that they are waking up to the idea that a better reality is possible. If it feels difficult, we can know that we are not alone, because globally more healers are owning their natural capacity to restore balance and harmony. If we feel that the ocean is too much water to handle, we can change those drops around us knowing that there are others who are doing the same. If the small currents change, the large ones will follow. I could go with a new interpretation of the Biblical notion that the sins of the fathers are transferred through to the third and fourth generation, but for those who love (God), the blessings will have effect for a thousand generations.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

The Gift of Limitation

Limitation is useful when properly understood and applied. I find that culturally we have a fixation with limitation, which gives rise to a value system that revolves around scarcity. While we always strive to do more, be more and have more, we feel frustrated by our limitations. Success is only considered valuable when it is difficult to achieve or available to only a few. In the process we disregard many avenues that would lead to a desired result.

When the illusion of constructed limitation falls away, the possibilities for what the world could look like are endless. It could be overwhelming, and to avoid getting lost it is often necessary to choose a path and stay on it. This also entails setting goals and bringing them to fruition. Even when working on something of personal importance, it is easy to wish for more time and energy. I often find that I want to rush ahead and see results in this instant, but limitation urges me to slow down and pay attention to what I’m doing.

Limitation provides the opportunity to experience where we are, at the time and find the magic in the moment. Through connecting all moments, it creates a road that we can reflect on before deciding where we want to go. It shows that a state of not having it all is as valuable as the feeling of accomplishment. It illuminates the courage at the bottom of the mountain as well as the exhilaration at the top.

Limitation teaches us to rely on others. On a long road, when we become tired, we can share the burden. Limitation ultimately brings each person to the realisation that where they are is the best place to make changes. The only gateway to abundance worth pursuing is within, since all other gates are barred shut anyhow.

Each person is an aperture to infinity. When love is applied to what one does, the magic takes form in the material world. Limitation brings the gift of seeing the Universe take expression through the Self.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Entering the New Year: Gifts and Action

I have ambivalent feelings towards the festive season. My primary reason for hating it is the commercial side of Christmas. Whereas Christmas presents held appeal when I was a child, working in marketing for more than five years has cured me of the need to buy things and exchange gifts for the sake of tradition. The one part I like about the festive season is that the bustling of working life comes to a halt. This gives me time to reflect and do introspection without feeling guilty for not being productive. In this post I will share some of my reflections on the turn of the year in the light of existing traditions.

This festive season has been different from former ones because I am on the brink of major life changes. Pending immigration related admin my plan is to be fully self-employed as a healer in the very near future. I used to face the year ahead of me wondering how on earth I made it through another twelve months of wasting effort not getting anywhere. I felt despair as I asked myself how I could get out of the cycle I felt so stuck in. This year I felt excited about the prospect of directing myself in future, but the part of me that feels afraid wanted to put brakes on the rolling in of the new tide. Feeling that I am about to throw myself off a cliff and hope I’ll fly is daunting, but I know that it is time to give more energy to the wheels that have been set in motion.

Although I’m not sure about the exact historical origins, I believe that most religious festivals that are still celebrated today share roots with pagan traditions. The Christmas and New Year festive season more or less coincides with the winter solstice, which marks the beginning of a new cycle. For me this is a good time to think about my goals for the next year. Since I do shamanic work, I spent  some time journeying, which to those not familiar with shamanism I would describe as a way of accessing the unconscious to work with the intelligence of the universe. A year ago I wrote about the association of trees with Christmas. I haven’t done much research about the tradition of Father Christmas, but I have read articles proposing that it originates from the use of psychedelic mushrooms (see for instance this interesting article). Seeing the symbol of Father Christmas in one of my recent meditations however got me thinking about the concept of manifestation through the shamanic upper world: that layer of the unconscious where creativity and wisdom come from. I have come to despise the tradition of over-indulgence associated with the festive season because from my perspective it serves as a justification to spend one’s entire year doing meaningless things for the sake of gaining money, which again needs to be spent to have meaning. But the concept of gifts delivered from the upper realms reminded me that the unconscious finds expression even in the Western world where we have become profoundly disconnected from the spiritual aspect of Nature. Applying the concept of gifts to New Year’s resolutions, my belief is that gifts come from Spirit, but it is what we do with it that will determine how it manifests in our reality. I journeyed to my future self a year from now to ask about practical goals I could work towards achieving. The advice was to lay strong foundations for my life work. Although it would not be easy, I would become stronger as I applied all my effort to building what I would like to see grow. Working on publishing the books I have written is a priority, as is practical shamanic healing work.

The Eagle: Symbol of Courage, Focus and
Communion with the Higher Self
I also have to look back and honour the help I have had along the way, as well as express gratitude for the gifts from Spirit that have manifested. My first novel was inspired by my knowledge of shamanism and initiated by a journey to the shamanic upper world in order to find a story that needed to be told. The eagle emerged as the primary symbol in my first book. On 1 January 2014 I drew this picture of the eagle with the intent to get my first book published. It so happens that exactly a year later, on 1 January 2015, I was offered a publishing contract. Those who would like to access other realms through fiction can watch this space…