It has not escaped my notice during the hundreds of journeys I have undertaken on behalf of others, how much care and time the helping spirits take to elucidate and emphasize how unique and extraordinary each one of us is. Isn’t it ironic that we spend so much of our lives trying to fit in and hide our light under a bushel?
Even as parents, we hope that our children will assimilate, keep in step with their peers, and not turn out to be the weird kid who needs to do things differently. We may also judge friends and family who seem too eccentric, as if there loyalty to their own individuality was a kind of affront to us.
It takes a great deal of courage and not a small leap of faith to send the truest light and deepest expression of ourselves out into the world. It feels scary to stand unmasked and bold on our own stage, in our own spotlight. Instead, we hang back in the wings, mouthing the words to our own song in fear of being pummeled by a volley of rotten tomatoes.
It seems peculiar that the hardest thing for us to do in life is just be who we are. To express ourselves wholly and purely, without fear of rejection or rebuke. To be proud, rather than ashamed, of our idiosyncrasies. To embrace change and allow ourselves to be the work in progress that we are–a beautiful unveiling.
There is nothing that makes us more unhappy or bereft than the feeling that we cannot be who we are, that we do not know ourselves, or that we have somehow lost touch with our purpose in being here. I hear this longing and regret constantly expressed by those who come to me for shamanic healing sessions.
Simply being who we are should not be such a struggle and a heartache, and yet it is. The deepest scars we have are there from moments when we have passionately raised our true colors and set sail on an exquisite sea of self-declaration, only to see our dreams and visions dashed against the rocks.
That’s being ourselves—if it was easy, everyone would do it.
I don’t claim to know why that is. I do think that having our mettle constantly tested is the way in which we sculpt out the true self from the rough unpolished rock that bounces onto this earth like a meteorite the day we are born.
As a daily practice, shamanism provides some handy chiseling tools, not the least of which is the shamanic journey—an inroad to direct revelation and guidance from the spirit world. The shamanic journey helps us to hone and shape ourselves in a steady and informed manner so we are not left to hack away at our shortcomings with reckless abandon. It is by not knowing who we are that we undertake careers, life choices and relationships that don’t particularly suit us.
It is true that there is no “wrong” path and that we can gain wisdom and strength from some very rocky roads. But a steady diet of adversity can end up providing little more than incapacitation.
The helping spirits that accompany us on our journeys do not always—in fact, rarely—suggest simple solutions. No one said anything about easy. Saner, clearer and more manageable, yes, but who wouldn’t vote for that in exchange for crazy, mixed-up and out of control?
Our spirit allies will help us to locate and release the falsehoods about ourselves we have taken on, all of the ridiculous costumes we have worn, all of the ill-fitting shoes we have walked in for miles.
They will help us to free the thoughts and emotions we have been so afraid to voice, to pick up the gifts we have neglected to unwrap, the creative talents that have gathered dust on the shelf, the blessings we have failed to recognize.
Over time, the shamanic path enables us to live more consciously, to be more awake, to let go of the sense that life is something that happens to us. What the helping spirits emphasize over and over again is that there is not a single thing that happens to us that is random. Each event, relationship, challenge, loss is carefully brought by spirit and and fed into the greater soul process that churns away quite sovereignly—that answers to no one but its own divine plan, that is simply trying to get back to the garden, and will use anything it requires to reach the gate.
Though we are generally consumed and distracted by our outer experience—the physical realm, or the world of matter—each of us requires a greater understanding of the inner landscape of ourselves. We are entitled to know every loop, every knot, every thread of the divinely peculiar and unique weft and warp of ourselves, and the portal to this landscape is generously provided and supported by the shamanic path. The more we can trust our inner guidance, the more we will trust the world we live in. The more we can trust the world we live in, the more brightly we will shine like the smiling stars we are.
*Joni Mitchell, “Woodstock”
“We are stardust, we are golden
We are billion year old carbon
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.”