Dismemberment by Jan Engels-Smith
There is a duality in existence that is an artificial construct but which affects us in significant ways. Our immediate consciousness conceives of us as human in physical form and we respond in daily existence in this mode.
However, we are first and foremost a spirit having a human experience. Our spiritual nature is capable of carrying us to a higher consciousness where we may be aware of the perfection of our creation and the flawless qualities of our being. The human form that we associate with our earthly reality is subjected to distortion and alteration by the human conditions of struggle, failure, and pain, but this variance from our truer spiritual nature, while seeming to be so real, is actually a false image of our better selves. Aligning our human form with our spiritual reality allows us to recall the perfection of our beginnings and to restore our power to create our better future.
Shamans have long understood the truth of our existence and have created fertility, death, and birth rites, healing practices, and initiation ceremonies that reflect the belief that humans are first and foremost spiritual beings. Our modern culture, absent the influence of these ancient practices, has succumbed to a singular identity with our physical being to the great diminishment of our spiritual side and a corresponding sense of helplessness and hopelessness. Shamans understood and valued the empowerment wrought from spiritual practices and they assisted people in maintaining a close association with the spirit world, the source of healing and strength. A life lived solely in identity with the physical body is destined to focus on the harshest conditions that intrude most powerfully on our thinking. Stress, depression, failure, pain, and illness are forceful disorders that, in the physical body, can push aside thoughts of joy, contentment, and love. Reconnecting to our spiritual being allows us to restore the excellence of our true nature. That which was accomplished in ancient shamanic practices can be achieved again, if we can find again the spirit of the shaman and if we make the choice to act with the power that is within us.
In addition to our own separation from our true self, this perception of our living only as physical beings contributes to our separation from others. In the spiritual realm, we are connected to all other beings in a cosmic unity that increases our personal power and allows us to pass beyond our ego into an alignment with all existence. In this state of being we can realize our full connection to others and overcome the artificial separation from nature and the spirit realm that is so common to our current reality.
Shamans have understood this human predicament for eons and have created initiation ceremonies of dismemberment. The philosophy of dismemberment is that if you dismember the body you release attachments and then you can remember your radiance and your true spiritual self. The dismemberment of the body also releases the lock down the body has on false realities—such as the inability to heal, the limited possibilities of resolution of difficult situations, or even the idea that something is impossible to change. These beliefs of limitations are held in the body and in our egoic left brain of rational thought. They permeate our chakras and emit negative vibrations and undesirable energies. The power of dismemberment is in the release of these adverse powers and their replacement with positive dynamisms that promote a healthy and empowered self that is capable and proficient in meeting life’s challenges.
Dismemberments can be achieved through direct action but they are also natural to life. They may happen spontaneously to us and are often experienced during difficult hardships and loss. The loss of a job, the loss of a loved one, a divorce, a financial crisis, or unexpected health issues can serve to clarify our thinking and open us to new possibilities. There is of course much initial pain and sadness associated with such drastic changes in our lives but often with the passage of time a person may find that the loss was a gain and an opening to opportunity. Perhaps one should have left the job because he was miserable or she should have left the marriage because it was disempowering. Even poor health might lead one to seek positive changes in habits and cause one to acquire an appreciation of the simple joys of life. The cliché of making lemonade from lemons is part of the physiological mindset that facilitates the dismemberment in a good way. Of course a person can be consumed with grief or loss and decide to never recover; however, I believe this decision is a function of the ego and not part of the natural course of life. The tarot card THE TOWER is an excellent example of this. The history of the tarot cards explains that there are 72 different situations (72 cards) a person will find in the course of life. We all experience them provided that we live a normal length of time. These don’t change as generations pass. There are different scenarios but the life lessons remain the same.
The spirits say it is in our original blueprint to be happy, healthy, and well and that life is to be enjoyed and revered as a blessing. When we develop other realities as a function of our ego and our separation from our source, we lose sight of our perfect origins and suffer the consequences of negativity and helplessness. Shamans serve to reconnect humans to their spiritual source and empower them to regain their strength from the geneses of their true beginnings.
Shamans performed dismemberment ceremonies on a regular basis to clear individuals of harmful limiting beliefs and negative body responses. The modern shaman continues the practice to overcome the negative influence of a culture that has moved far from its roots and that has lost the ability to connect easily to our spiritual natures. Modern life is in dire need of revitalization and a renewal of our forgotten source. The practice of dismemberment lends itself well to allowing us to overcome the artificial barriers that have inhibited our spiritual growth and limited our abilities to heal and be well. Dismemberment is fundamentally about opening new passageways to a knowingness of the divine order of the universe by removing the obstructions that we have acquired in this physical existence that knows only the single dimension of a limiting reality. By moving to a non-ordinary reality, we discover that the spirits do love us and that the universe is created from a positive life force of which we are a part. From this perspective we are able to rid ourselves of the contamination of faulty thinking and a restricted belief system and move to a realization of the power of the cosmic forces of which we are a part.
So how might one accomplish this dismemberment of the body and remembrance of one’s true self? The dismemberment journey is simple. You state your intention to the spirits that you would like to be dismembered down to nothingness. (The ego usually strongly resists this intention, but hold it anyway.) You then proceed to move into your journey experience. Usually your spirit ally will start tearing you apart. I know that sounds gruesome but you want to imagine a complete disembodiment. Remember that you are seeking a dramatic transformation and a deep alteration in your thinking. You are attempting to overcome long held belief systems that are the product of many years of programming. We have all been influenced and shaped by a modern culture that resists spiritual enlightenment and allowing for your dismemberment is a way to tear down these barriers and open your way to your spiritual self. There is no pain but the path to a new realization of your true self may be difficult initially because it is so unfamiliar to our current state of being. Stay the path and call in your spiritual aides to help in your transformation. As you envision your physical being coming apart, you will experience a renewal of your true self drawn from your source of creation.
Pain is a derivative of three-dimensional reality and not an experience to be found in the higher dimensions of a journey often called the shamanic state of mind. When I am in such a state, I usually watch the process as well as experience it, which is another phenomenon of our omnipresence that is experienced in a journey. In the higher dimensions, you may coexist in multiple states—such as an observer and a participant. The idea that we can only be one thing or be present in one place is a concept held by the limitation of three-dimension reality. Curiously, the science of quantum physics is beginning to posit that there is an existence of simultaneity that allows for the duality of existence of physical objects as well as a unity of being that denies the separation of the universe into fragments. One has to wonder if the ancient shaman was the precursor of the modern quantum physicist.
I have often asked my students for feedback from their dismemberment journeys that we did in class. I am amazed at the pulverization, hacking apart, or devouring that happened to them. Everything is dismembered until they are less than particles and their ego is desperately holding on for dear life. With intention and permission even the final act of letting go of one’s ego can be realized. Complete dismemberment from the body and mind can be accomplished. Even if only for a moment, great feelings of relief and freedom can be achieved. Aches and pains can be eliminated, illnesses can vanish, and feelings of helplessness can disappear. Once you have experienced complete dismemberment you will never be the same again. Some who have gone deeply through the process claim that they do not even recognize themselves when they return to this reality. For some individuals the process is almost like amnesia but in a positive sense. Individuals have recounted how they temporarily do not recognize friends, remember their address or phone number, or recall long held memories. There is no need for concern in this brief aberration but it is a sign that one has effectively transformed and is returning as a new individual with a different outlook on life and a renewed understanding of existence and humankind’s place in the universe.
The process of dismemberment frees you from the countless tethers that keep you limited—whether values, norms, ethics, standards, or morals that have been imposed by forces in this current reality—and replaces limitation with boundless possibility and supplants reactive behaviors with a proactive empowerment that allows you to choose your own destiny rather than accept this society’s judgment of your worth. Dismemberment is followed by a reassembling of your self but never in the same form that had existed previously. Absent the contamination of false assumptions and the negative energy of scarcity, your new self will consist of that which you learned in your communion with your spirit helpers. Your new self will be imbued with the joy and positive feelings that the universe has determined are natural to your being. There is a line from Oscar Wilde in his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray that reads, “Veil after veil of thin dusky gauze is lifted, and by degrees the forms and colours of things are restored to them, and we watch the dawn remaking the world in its antique pattern.” It’s a beautiful description of the remarkable effect of a new day beginning. In many ways the dismemberment and transformation of one’s being is very much like that emerging daybreak—full of promise and beauty.