Sunday, April 5, 2020

Soul Flight: A Spiritual Prescription for Coronavirus

I am not a medical professional or an expert on epidemics. I leave the critical information in those important fields for the experts who have the appropriate training to help us get through the coronavirus pandemic. Even though I do not possess medical knowledge, as a shamanic practitioner, I believe I can try to humbly prescribe a vaccine that can heal the spirit -- the soul flight or shamanic journey. In the shamanic world, all healing begins with the spirit.

Shamanism is based on the principle that innate wisdom and guidance can be accessed through the inner senses in ecstatic trance. Basically, shamanic journeying is a way of communicating with your inner or true self and retrieving information. Your inner self is in constant communication with all aspects of your environment, seen and unseen. You need only journey within to find answers to your questions. You should have a question or objective in mind from the start. Shamanic journeying may be undertaken for purposes of divination, for personal healing, or for any number of other reasons. After the journey, you must then interpret the meaning of your trance experience.

Drumming (or listening to a shamanic drumming recording) is a simple and effective way to induce this ecstatic trance state. When a drum is played at an even tempo of three to four beats per second for at least fifteen minutes, most novices report that they can journey successfully even on their first attempt. Transported by the driving beat of the drum; the shamanic traveler journeys to the inner planes of consciousness: the Upper, Middle, and Lower Worlds. You should always journey with a purpose, question or intention. Some good reasons to take a shamanic journey at this challenging time are….

1. To reconnect with your inner or spirit self: Shamanic journeying heightens the ability of perception and enables you to see into the deeper realms of the self. The moment you bond with your spirit is the moment your heart opens. The first time you glimpse your spirit self, you gasp and cry. You know who you are. That is the moment you begin to heal. Journey work reconnects us to our core, enhancing our sense of empowerment and stimulating our creative expression.

2. To clarify life purpose: When we are unaware of our soul's true purpose or simply not aligned in our actions, we often experience a malaise of the spirit. We can engage the blueprint of our soul path through the vehicle of journeying. Shamanic journeying is a time-tested medium for individual self-realization. We can journey within to access wisdom and energies that can help awaken our soul calling and restore us to wholeness. Journey work reconnects us with our deepest core values and our highest vision of who we are and why we are here. It heightens our sense of mission and purpose, empowering our personal evolution.

3. To access a higher power: Shamanism provides a secular approach to accessing a higher power. Shamanic methodology directly supports the introduction of spiritual factors found significant in the healing process. According to the American Journal of Public Health, "Shamanic activities bring people efficiently and directly into immediate encounters with spiritual forces, focusing the client on the whole body and integrating healing at physical and spiritual levels. This process allows them to connect with the power of the universe, to externalize their own knowledge, and to internalize their answers; it also enhances their sense of empowerment and responsibility. These experiences are healing, bringing the restorative powers of nature to clinical settings."

4. To divine information: You can journey within to obtain information about personal and community issues. Your helping spirits are a good resource when it comes to answering questions pertaining to relationships, health issues, or any issue. To divine information in a journey, begin with a clear question that you would like to ask of your helping spirits. Decide which of your helping spirits you would like to answer your question, and then journey to the place where you normally meet them in non-ordinary reality. Of course you can ask your question to as many of your helping spirits as you wish. When divining or healing on behalf of others, it is vital that you have their permission.

5. To develop relationships with the helping spirits who dwell in the three inner planes of consciousness -- the Upper, Middle, and Lower Worlds: Shamanism is a sacred call to build relationship with the caretakers in the unseen world who want to support the earth and her inhabitants at this time. These helping spirits might be the spirits of nature, animals, plants, the elements, or ancestors. The reason for developing personal relationships with spirit helpers is to gain wisdom, healing techniques, and other vital information that can benefit the community. Similar to the way friendships develop gradually, our relationships with spirits grow and deepen based on repeated interaction and building trust over time.

6. To reconnect with benevolent ancestors: Your ancestors and the collective spiritual power of all those who went before you reside in the spirit world. When your own time comes to pass on, you will become part of this vast collective unconscious. If you embark on a journey with the intention of connecting with those who have passed, they may come to meet you. Keep in mind that spirits choose to come into relationship with the person seeking. You can seek ancestral spirits, but the spirits must choose.

7. To prepare for death: Shamans believe that learning to leave the physical body is important, for without this experience, the soul may become confused after death and remain stuck in the Middle World. When a person dies, there is usually a smooth transition into the afterlife, but when a person suffers a traumatic death, they may not have an awareness of who and where they are. This makes it difficult for them to make their journey to the afterlife. Other souls linger in the space between life and the afterlife for fear of going to hell. Sadly, most of the psychopomp rites of passage that once helped prepare a person for death have disappeared. Hence, journeying is one of the most important shamanic skills that we can develop. By journeying to the Lower World, the place to which human souls travel upon physical death, we can prepare for our own death. That said, perhaps the most compelling reason to journey is...

8. To find ways to restore balance in the world: As anthropologist and author Felicitas Goodman points out, "One of the most pervasive traditions of shamanic cultures is the insight that there exists a patterned cosmological order, which can be disturbed by human activity." When harmony between the human realm and the original intended pattern is disturbed, the shaman makes a spirit journey to the Upper World to bring back the balance. Shamans also go there to acquire archetypal knowledge, to bring a vision into being, or to influence events in the material world. By interacting with the archetypes, the shaman interacts with their counterparts in the outer world.

Try a Shamanic Journey

To enter a trance state and support your journey, click here to listen to a track from my CD "Shamanic Journey Drumming." Reflect for a moment on the purpose of your journey, and then close your eyes. Focus your attention on the sound of the drum and feel yourself being carried away by the sound. If for any reason you want to return, just retrace your steps back. You will hear a call back signal near the end of the video, followed by a short period of slow heartbeat drumming to assist you in refocusing your awareness back to your physical body. Sit quietly for a few moments, and then open your eyes.

After the journey, you must then interpret the meaning of your trance experience.  In some cases, your journey experiences will be clear and easy to understand. At other times, your journey may be dreamlike and full of symbolism. Interpret such journeys as you would any dream. Look for possible associations related to each symbol or image. The key is to observe whatever happens without trying to analyze the experience. Like developing any skill, journeying takes practice. Nothing may happen on your first journeys. You may only experience darkness. When this happens, simply try again at a different time. To learn more, read my article Shamanic Journeying.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Major Victory for Standing Rock

A Message from Phyllis Young, Standing Rock Organizer

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread throughout the nation, we're aware that it could have an outsized impact on Indian Country. Relief programs may not provide needed tests and medical supplies for us -- or anyone -- on an appropriate scale. Please know we are monitoring this, and as my colleague Chase Iron Eyes mentioned a few days ago, we'll keep you updated on developments. May we all stay safe and healthy.

In the meantime, I write with some wonderful news. Just yesterday, Standing Rock won a big victory in the ongoing legal battle against the Dakota Access pipeline when a federal judge granted the tribe's request to strike down DAPL's federal permits! Watch our video about the win in court and send a note of solidarity to Standing Rock.

The judge ruled that Trump's Army Corps of Engineers must complete a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) -- the much more comprehensive review we've all been demanding since the beginning of this movement (and that President Obama required, only to be reversed by Trump). The Corps fell short in three specific ways, according to the judge.

First, the Corps failed to respond adequately to claims by the tribe's experts that DAPL's leak detection system is wholly inadequate. Second, the company's dreadful history of oil spills wasn't properly addressed. Finally, the oil company failed to account for the adverse repercussions a "worst case discharge" might have on our treaty rights -- our ability to hunt, fish, and perform traditional religious ceremonies near Lake Oahe, which the pipeline crosses under.

I was asked by the tribal chairman to represent Standing Rock's interests at the hearing in Washington, D.C., but I couldn't go because of Coronavirus travel restrictions. I'm gratified that, despite our troubles, we have been victorious, at least for now.

The logic of the judge's ruling suggests the pipeline should not remain operational without a federal permit. The ruling actually references both the Titanic and Chernobyl concerning the possibility of human error, and I'm hopeful shutting down the flow will be the judge's next step. He has now requested legal briefs on that issue.

Please stay tuned, as we hope to share more good news soon. In the meantime, stay safe and please listen to the medical professionals with knowledge about the requirements of this pandemic. We're all in this together.

Wopila tanka -- as always, we're so grateful to you for standing with Standing Rock and Mother Earth.

Phyllis Young
Standing Rock Organizer
The Lakota People's Law Project