At this late stage in my life, I am circling back, picking up some aspects of myself that I left behind: another Harley, my neo-shamanic abilities, and writing poetry–and exploring something I hadn’t tried back in the 60’s as an adjunct: psychedelics. These represent a resurrection of things that I had set aside and am returning back to at this late stage of my life. All of them together represent a rebirth of sorts at this late stage, and I feel my energy and interests come up as I move back into them. A sign to me that I am on the right path at the right time for me; a time of personal growth and renewal.
I have not blogged for a while because resurrection and rebirth take a lot of time and energy. Just ask any mother. I have been on an exponential learning, and relearning, curve. It has been a period of energizing transition and metamorphosis. Woven into this dynamic tapestry of personal growth is the process of individuation, or in Maslow’s term, self-actualization, that is intertwined. And all of this is been deepened and made more fertile by my years of Zen practice, which forces you to deal with your Shadow issues of the subconscious, or as Carl G. Jung named it, of your Personal Unconscious.
While I have blogged earlier about the Harley part, I’ll do a short update here: Damn, those bikes have gotten heavier since my last one, only seven years ago. But as I write, they were already heavier by then too. I have to really struggle to pick it back up if I let it go over on its side–and that is with all the bicycling and weight lifting I do. This getting old sucks!
Just the other day, I let it fall over down the street at my daughter’s, Amy’s, house. I had pulled up in her front yard off the busy highway/road and forgot to put the kickstand down (old age again!), and over it went as I stepped off. Once it gets only a few degrees off vertical in a lean, its is too much weight for me to pull back up, so I just stepped off. Bending over, I tried to lift it back to vertical. It was laying on its engine guards that keep it at about a 30 degree angle. I could just barely budge it trying to lift it. I had just bent over forward and was trying to pick it up, having forgotten about turning around backwards, sort of getting under it, and using my legs to push it up–a technique of which my son later reminded me. Here I was, on a fairly busy street, cars driving by, Harley on its side, old guy trying to upright it. How embarrassing. I went inside the house and asked my ex, Carol, to come out and help. No good either. Imagine now, people driving by and seeing these two old folks out there trying to upright a big Harley. The Three Stooges come to mind, only there were just two of us. Curly was elsewhere. Finally, two ol’ Big Boys pulled up in a big truck, hoped out, and quickly set it upright. Thank-you, Big Guys! Next time, I’ll remember the ‘turn around backwards and use my legs’ technique–or, better yet, to be sure and put the kickstand down.
Moving on now…
Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble…
The poetry resurrection is part of my effort at creative art to express/explore my subconscious and is part of my personal growth/individuation program. I am using the poetry along with shamanic journeying, dreamwork (analysis), Zen practice, and re-writing my personal myth. Thrown into the bubbling caldron of individuation, I’m adding a little seasoning for a deeper, richer flavor: psychedelics–I hope.
Even though I was a flower child of the 60’s, I somehow missed out on the psychedelics of that era. Tried a little ‘shrooms’ a couple of months ago, just enough to get a little buzz as it turned out. A testing the water thing, ‘putting my toe in the water to see how cold it was,’ before I jump in, sort of thing. Do I jump in? It was a pleasant mellow, different from marijuana, which I did do a lot of in graduate school. My plans are to do some LSD. This is just an experiment understand. I want to see if it facilitates my spiritual growth. I’m big on experiments from my science days. Speaking of which, a lot of research is once again being done on LSD and psilocybin (the active ingredient in magic mushrooms) for psychotherapy for seniors–hey, that be me. It is indicating positive effects on depression, anxiety, and some benefits for Alzheimer’s, if I remember correctly. Don’t quote me on this latter though. I’ll let you know how this experiment goes, recognizing that for it to be good science, experiments need to be replicated several times. I was inspired for this experiment after doing some Zen readings of one of Alan Watts’ book. This is It.
I started writing poetry in the ninth grade, moon-eyed in loved with a young lady a year or so younger. I had shown it to my speech teacher. She had encouraged my to keep writing–and so I did–but switched in college to science and technical writing. In highschool several of my poems were published in our school’s literary publication, Panther’s Tails. The science/technical writing however, was a kiss of death for my poetry writing. Over the years I had tried several times to revisit writing poetry but had not been happy with the results, so would drop it. However, the other day after one of my shamanic journeys, which I have started doing again after almost 16 year absence, I gave it a try. In terms of creative art, I’ve tried music: piano for two years from age 7-9, trumpet in junior high, again, for two years, and, about three years ago, I tried taking up banjo and harmonica. No good. Playing musical instruments is just not my thing. Hence, resurrecting my poetry writing. Afterall, I’m writing it just for myself, painting word-pictures with it. That said, maybe I’ll publish an edited version of my first try in a later post. I was actually pleased with it. Needs a lot of editing, but still, I like the way it flowed and came together.
Now to the culturally disonate topic: neo-shamanism…
In 1996 while involved in a two-year, intense advanced clinical hypnotherapy training internship program through the Wellness Institute, I discovered I had considerable shamanic abilities: I have an ability to shift easily into an alternate state of consciousness, which allows me to see and do some really interesting stuff, at least by our Western culture’s perspective. I write about that internship experience in WindWalker. It was a powerful, life changing program for me. In my counseling career there were many times I would call these shamanic abilities into play to assist me with a client. My first encounter with these abilities was in a powerful mystic experience, which I write about in some detail in WindWalker, and mention again in Guru, my 2020 book in meeting the first of my spirit guide, Turquoise Woman of Navajo legend. Although, at the time, I had no idea who she was.
Shamanic journeying is an ancient right-brain thing: a blend of cognitive (cerebral cortex) and subcortical/subconscious processes. We live in a predominately left-brain culture. Journeying was a standard tool used through the ages by humans to access alternate reality of the non-material or “spiritual.” It was a survival technique used for healing, divination, manipulating energy and information, and influencing the gods (pantheism) long before we had today’s science and technology. It still provides a unique gateway for those wanting to explore their own non-traditional, spirituality and for personal growth.
I have totally shut down my counseling practice–with a great sigh of relief to be free of all the do’s and don’ts of professional counseling (HIPPA, state regulations, insurance, expenses, etc.), and am now offering instead Nature-based spiritual consultations, workshops, seminars and tools, for those interested in exploring their spirituality and personal growth from a shamanic and/or Wicca/neo-Pagan perspective. Shamanism is foundational for Wicca and Neo-Paganism.
Be aware however, that this path is culturally dissonant: It is not accepted in our Abrahamic, materialistic, scientific-oriented dominate culture. In fact, it is disdained, and fundamentalist consider it Satanism, displaying their massive ignorance and fears.
Neo-shamanism is the Western culture’s adaptation to ancient, indigenous practices, pioneered by anthropologist Michael Harner in his 1990 book, Way of the Shaman. From an evolutionary genetic perspective, it is important to realize that this ability is part of humanity’s genetic heritage, not something specific just to indigenous peoples and their cultures. Many of us alive today have these abilities. They are on a continuum like any other trait, with some capable of being very good at it on the high end to those that are virtually entirely “left-brain” with minimum abilities.
Before you think, “Okay, this time he’s really lost it,” and roll your eyes: 1) I ‘lost it’ a long time ago; 2) In the early 2000’s, right after my book WindWalker: Journey into Science, Self, and Spirit, was published, I offered Continuing Education workshops for mental health counselors, social workers, and nurses, on the underlying neurobiology of these ancient healing approaches and how to use them for themselves and their patients. Even had a few MD’s and psychologists attend, and at least one Christian minister, the latter having a mind-bending revelation during one of the experiential exercises we did. These professional workshops were heavy on the actual experiences: participants did several shamanic journeys during the course of the two-day workshops. And recently, I just finished an experiential Religious Education class for the our local Unitarian Universalist church on Nature-Based Religions.
In my classes, workshops, etc., I give participants the opportunities to meet their own personal spirit guides. Shamanic spirit guides or allies and Wiccan Goddesses and Gods are actually Jungian archetypes that go back in our species evolutionary history, and again, were probably important for our species’s survival. Recently I came across an National Institute of Mental Health article that talked about the quantum nature of archetypes and Jungian synchronicity that I think may tie into our shamanic abilities as well. Quantum, as in quantum physics or mechanics. Stay tuned. I am still trying to get my head wrapped around this.