Welcome to our Glossary for Deeper Diving!
The Three Worlds: For the shaman, the universe is divided into three realms which are all places of pure compassion: the Lower World, the Middle World and the Upper World. These worlds are outside of time and space. The Lower World is what Carl Jung called the collective unconscious; the Middle World is the place of bookkeeping and architecture seen through the veils of non-ordinary reality; the Upper World is the field of vision and holds our becoming. Shamans work in all three realms, moving smoothly between them as our service and advocacy requires.
Shamanic Journey: The journey is the shaman’s basic technology, and allows us easy access to the Three Worlds. It is how we navigate the waters of the soul. Shamans enter non-ordinary reality by using repetitive, percussive sound which shifts consciousness from beta to alpha states, into a light trance. Humans are built to journey and we can do it intentionally, enhanced by focus and vibration. The drum is the horse that Siberian shamans ride into the underworld, the heartbeat of the earth in many native North American traditions. Ultimately, we are aligning ourselves with the vibration of the Earth and “dropping in” to where our compassionate helping spirits are guiding us. Every shaman learns how to access their own place of power that is the springboard for the journey. In Mongolia, shamans journey into the Three Worlds from a tuft of grass. In Northern Europe, medicine men and women journey up or down the trunk of the great World Tree. Wisdom and guidance derived from journeys are amplified as shamans comes into relationship with our power totems and the forces of Nature.
All Rising Fire students learn to journey adeptly to the Lower, Middle and Upper Worlds in single day classes and in the two-year process of the Medicine Wheel. In this way, every student develops a direct relationship with the source, a way to go deep on their own. We also consistently journey on behalf of others, because we all need a little help some of the time!
Intrusive Energy Extractions: Clearing energy is another near-universal shamanic practice. We see how past traumas and conflicts become embedded in a person’s energy field. When there is little momentum left to this pattern, it appears dense and objectified (a spear, a dart, a flat tire, an icicle, e.g.). When there is still momentum in the energy, it feels more alive (an ancestor, a spirit energy). Either way, it is simply energy, and is often easily removed through shamanic practice. Sometimes talking about our experience of the energy extraction — our attachment to the intrusion, our sadness in feeling it go –leads us to a tremendous release of habitual attitudes and behaviors and helps us integrate more resourceful attitudes. All Rising Fire students learn how to extract both dense and fluid energy from their own Luminous Body and from others as well as aftercare processing.
Ancestral Work: In Western culture, we hold our ancestors responsible for who we are. However, the shaman chooses how we remember our ancestors and they no longer haunt us. Until we do this work, it is likely that we are defined by our karma and genetics. Our medicine work helps us to see our unconscious paradigms – our reactions – and helps us to see that we are more than our history and old experiences. We honor and disengage from our “story” and we drain the momentum of our karmic and genetic inheritance.
When our family relations are embedded in our Luminous Body, they hold the programs of our ancestral themes. We track and honor the ancestors who live within us. We thank them for their lessons and then we release the way we have held them and how they have held us. When we de-program, we can become available to our visionary lineage. We heal our lineage of its historical momentum and free ourselves to act from a deep sense of ease and stillness. This journey is an act of power and love and every Rising Fire student is supported through this passage to freedom. The processes we use encompass shamanic journey, energy extractions, storytelling, fire ceremony and rites of passage.
Soul Retrieval: When human beings experience trauma, a part of ourselves is spontaneously lost –banished to the lower world, the domain of shadow. These are the qualities of ourselves we disown – that we envy or despise in others. These are the aspects we project onto others. Perhaps a child who was punished for being too free will grow into an adult who cannot feel joy, and who judges anyone around them who has retained their playfulness. This person demonizes the very experience, the joy, they long for the most, and cannot be whole without retrieving the lost part of themselves that went undercover for protection.
Shamans through time and place have practiced what is called “soul-retrieval.” This process summons the parts of the self that the client has lost as a result of these previous traumas — split off parts of the soul that leave us feeling fractured and un-whole. Jealous spouses or competitors could also have “fractured” these soul parts—the confident self, the trusting self, the self who loves freely and feels worthy of being loved in return—in the patient’s adulthood. To retrieve these talents, possibilities, and potentials that have retreated to the hidden recesses of the patient’s psyche, the shaman will journey to the lower world, or what Jung called the collective unconscious. Here, the healer discovers and retrieves those qualities that have been disowned, and that will allow their client to step more fully into their destiny. At this stage of the healing, the shaman will assist the client to integrate the soul part so that it can be fully active in the person’s daily process and identity.
Shamans say that the soul has such a longing for wholeness that it will recreate the conditions that caused the soul loss, because it hopes that another opportunity for healing will result in our integrating these fragmented aspects of the self. Thus we can reply our wounding over and over. Unaware of their soul’s wounding, the person will change jobs but end up with a similar boss, move to another city and wonder at how she ended up with neighbors who are just like those she left behind, or divorce the abusive spouse and end up in an identical marriage. If the shaman can discover the source of the original wounding, he can heal it, and break the self-destructive patterns. She does this by recovering the quanta of life force that was lost.
Soul Retrieval are often called forth in a shamanic journey, and we can do them for ourselves and for others. All Rising Fire students learn the process for Soul Retrieval. Soul Retrieval is also a significant component of Rising Fire Healing Sessions with private clients. In every healing we recover a part of ourselves.
Mesa Work: All Rising Fire students develop a healer’s bundle which the Andean shamans call a “misa” or mesa. Our healer’s mesa is composed of 13 stones that are gifted from places on the land that hold power and wisdom for us. Through the process of our personal healing and rites of passage, our mesas become a conduit to the forces of Nature and spirits of the land. As we step out of the personal and into the collective, our mesa magnifies our ability to invoke big changes in the world. Our mesas mature and maintain the clear-sighted and unfettered connection we need to influence great healing and to come into a resilient and harmonious relationship with life.
Shamans use their healing bundles in many ways: they can be tools for healing, a mirror to reflect back to us an internal or unconscious state, or a surrogate with which we can shift and clear energy for situations and relationships. The content of healing bundles vary based upon traditions, and they range from feathers, totem animal remains, sacred drums and rattles, crystals, skulls and more. Peruvian shamans develop many different types of mesas for various purposes, and our mesas change over the course of our lifetimes and our medicine work. The stones in our mesas are called our cuyas, or our beloveds, in indigenous Quechua!
Destiny Retrieval: Destiny can mean a better, higher future and is often imagined as something outside of us that we move toward. At Rising Fire, we believe that destiny is sitting right in this present moment. It is the music that is buried in our soul, and our spiritual journey is about hearing our own true voice. A destiny retrieval in this sense is how we uncover the riches that are already present within us. While this sounds simple, medicine people are well aware that sometimes our greatest conflict is to see our great brilliance and to let ourselves flow into a life lived with significance. Thus, destiny retrievals are often done after the shaman has trained for many moons to be free of limiting beliefs and the soul loss that blocks us from embracing our gold. If we are all born to meaning and significance, destiny retrieval is how we begin to recover our original purpose.
Shamans can effect destiny retrieval for themselves and others through the journey. In our tradition, we learn to navigate in the Upper World – the superconscious – which is the realm where we can access experience that is greater than limited ego sense of everyday life. When we journey to the Upper World, we enter the collective superconscious and our destiny. Here is where we re-member our original sacred contracts – the sweetness that is the unique song of our very soul.
Earth Painting Mandalas
Ceremonial Altars: Shamans create altars for specific changes in life, to honor ancestors, the elements of Nature or even tragic events. Altars can be used to create a collective community space. Often, before we can shift our lives, we must come to closure with old patterns, beliefs, pain, or situations. An altar creates the space for the end of cycles and allows us to call in what we want in our lives instead. Like a fire ceremony, an earth painting or despacho, creating an altar provides space for remembering and noticing, honoring and truly releasing old stories and deeply held beliefs; to become available to destiny instead of continuing to repeat history. We look at the areas in our lives where love is called for – relationships, work, family patterns – and create our altars from there.
Shamanic altars can be very simple, created using items from nature such as stones, flowers, pine cones, shells, fallen berries, beautiful bare branches, fresh snow. We can add items that are sacred to participants such as photos, poetry or artful creations. The key element for creating a shamanic altar is to set an intention and keep the altar full of life. It is so beautiful to find many ways to bring honoring and gratitude to our lives in ways that are authentic. There are no rules or set templates to making an altar – the basic underlying theme is the intention and the prayers you bring to the process. It is this intention, availability and openness to creation is what builds the altar inside and outside of us.