Our current society has a skewed view of aging. The media feeds us a daily dose of ageism and we as consumers eat it up. As a consequence, employers have become blind to the aging workers’ value, women and men dye their hair to hide the gray to avoid becoming devalued, and many health care providers shy away from providing the same level of care as to their younger patients. These are but a few of the many examples aging peoples face on a daily basis. Our ancestors honored the aging. So, how did ageism evolve? Would it be wise to return to the ancestral ways of respect for elders?
If you are a shamanic practitioner like me and you are working “with” and “in” spirit a good deal of the time, you may find it is quite easy to forget that your spirit currently resides in a body that does not have infinite powers and reserves. This is a lesson I have spent most of my years as a practitioner learning and re-learning. It is very easy for me to be “in” spirit. As my astrologer would say, “it is where you actually live, Dory, not here…out there!” As a result, my body is the last to get noticed because my Spirit just naturally overrides it!
The United States celebrates her war dead in May, on Memorial Day. However, of late I have been musing about the fact that we, as humans, do not memorialize the extinct Beings who have travelled this Earth for hundreds of years and who are no longer among us in physical reality. How can we so easily forget them?
With the rest of the world, my heart goes out to France this week. Watching the images of the famous spire of Notre Dame crumbling in flames, in addition my grief at losing such a monument, I was struck by the chaos and disorder our world is quickly becoming. It is easy to feel that we are all going down in flames as the structures we have come to know, love and trust are burned to the ground (metaphorically as well as literally). As an elder shamanic healer, I have seen enough of the signs to know that we are being given a cosmic lesson of epic proportions: we are being collectively asked to awaken.
Are you marching forward or have you been placing your inner life on hold? Your work, commitment to your children, completing household tasks, going to medical and other appointments, getting to the kids’ soccer practice on time, and so many other daily requirements, may be interfering with your stepping forward with the growth of your inner life and your soul’s larger purpose. Entertain, for a moment, the notion that you could accomplish all of the above while continuing to advance your personal growth and spiritual evolution in ways that nurture you. How might you accomplish this?
Stories unfold chapter by chapter. And so it is true that in our embodied lives special events such as marriage, childbirth, anniversaries, graduations, new jobs, and more, annotate our chapters. We also create artificial chapters by noting the passing of time, such as the end of one calendar year and the beginning of another. The celebration of the New Year brackets a day when we set intentions, or what some call resolutions, for the year ahead.
During the holidays we are far more likely to visit with family and repeat patterns of behavior that are not genuine. What does it mean to be “genuine? Marketers of various wares toss around this word…genuine leather, genuine experience, and genuine gemstone, they say. But, what does it mean for a person to be genuine? Thesaurus sights these meanings and synonyms: “real, candid, honest, frank, sincere, unpretentious.” Being “real” or “honest” in all situations is not easy.
As the days shorten and temperatures begin to tumble during evening hours, my heart becomes acutely aware and appreciative of light and the growing shadows. With the Sun approaching its lowest path, deep shadows are cast in the landscapes of the Northern Hemisphere. This rich golden light is a photographer’s haven and balm to the souls of many, including me.
In the mid 1960’s, a close family member was seriously burned in an industrial accident because of a chemical explosion. He was not expected to survive; he had 6 children under the age of 8. Being Catholic at the time, all family members fell to their knees and invoked the power of all the saints, Jesus, the Virgin Mary and anyone else who may be able to help with a miracle! My sister asked our family priest to pray for a miracle, and his response was curt and clear: “There is no such thing as a miracle.” I will never forget this, and, despite my youth and his spiritual authority, I knew he was not correct.
Grief is a natural part of life…as natural as joy and other human feelings. Grief is, however, a feeling we all hope to never have to experience; but, yet, it is inescapable. Sooner or later we will be faced with the loss of a loved one, a colleague, a friend, or a neighbor, and consequently faced with this feeling you want to avoid. This has been historically true for all the days of human life on Earth.
“Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down”, sang Mary Poppins. Sugar as a chaser to your medicine, though appealing, is not a panacea by any means. In fact, today we know the opposite to be true. Mary Poppins was surely singing about some nasty tasting herbal concoction she was attempting to get the children to swallow.
Following the theme of the current newsletter, let's talk about expansion and elasticity. Recently I have been reading about neuroplasticity and elasticity and the brain’s ability to continue developing and expanding regardless of aging or developmental challenges. It appears that science is catching up with what ancestral shamans and mystics have known for centuries…that the human experience is not stagnant unless we allow it to be so.
My recent musings have been about trusting and taking many things for granted. Isn’t it true that we just expect and trust that the sun will rise in the morning, that spring will come and the snow will melt, and that the birds will continue to fly to our feeders? These are merely expectations into which we do not generally put much thought effort. But, what if these generally accepted norms were to end unexpectedly? How would you cope? What would you do?
The most challenging love to practice daily, in my opinion, is self love. Caregivers of any genre are particularly susceptible to forget about themselves. Loving ourselves is an essential factor in our ability to be fully present and loving with those we serve, and yet, self love is often an illusive fragment of our lives.
In the midst of these dark days as we approach the Winter Solstice, it can be challenging to see the light in others and in ourselves. I believe it is because of the lack of daylight in December (in the Northern Hemisphere) that we have historically celebrated the birth of new life/light. Our ancestors created all manner of ceremonies and rituals to dance the Sun back to them. It does give us a boost of hope and peace, doesn’t it…just believing in the return of the Sun and gathering with family while holding fast to our traditions and rituals.
This month, we are featuring a guest blog post by Carrie Bancroft, former student and frequent guest teacher. In addition to being my marketing shaman, she is also a spirit worker and shamanic healer. The following post is about her favorite spirit holiday, the Day of the Dead.
As within/so without! There is no separation.These words describe in simple form the rather complex truth that we are never energetically separate from other living Beings. We live in an envelope and that envelope is called Weather! Our weather is influenced by the amount of sunlight, the temperature of tidal waters, air temperatures, degree of moisture in the air, speed of the wind, the rotation of the Earth on its axis, and the movement of the Earth around the Sun.
Today’s chilly Maine morning awakens me to the truth that fall is around the corner. With each passing year my impression is that summer is more and more brief. The consequent sorrow about its departure is at the tip of my heart. With aging comes the realization that there are limitations to life in a body and the experience of precious Maine summers is not infinite. For readers who do not live in the immersion that is a Maine summer, imagine that feeling of emptiness and loss following an intimate and joyful visit with a loved one. That is the good-bye feeling of the waning summer in Maine.