Choosing Happiness In Difficult Times

Excerpt from Becoming Yourself:  The Journey from Head to Heart

by Jan Engels-Smith

Each summer I have a workshop on Telepathic Communication, outside in a camp situation. Set in Tillamook, Oregon, the land we use is beautiful, with tall trees and lush greenery. The scene is very much like a magical fairy garden, only our garden is 43 acres. I love this land and being able to commune with nature in such an undisputed way.

Most of the people that are attracted to my work have an environmental consciousness and are very pro environment (tree huggers might suffice as a definition).

I usually arrive on the land a couple of days before everyone else, so I can set up and prepare. A few years ago when I arrived, there was a massive clear-cut operation in process just across the river from our camp. The water magnified the sound to a deafening decibel. The beeping trucks as they backed up to the location, the sound of many chain saws, cracking wood, and falling trees all created chills through my body with the destruction that was in progress.

I had always been sensitive to the logging in Oregon, so much so, that I would almost cry seeing log trucks on the street. My reaction to this assault on the forest was overwhelming. I was horrified to think of what would happen in the next few days, especially when 60 tree huggers began to arrive in camp the following day. I was certain that emotional havoc was about to happen. This situation could destroy the workshop. The only telepathic communication the participants were going to focus on was screaming trees.

I sat down to think through this and started to pray. I centered myself and asked for help. The guidance that I received was, “Choose happiness.”

“Choose happiness?” I retorted back to Source. “How in the world do I do that? This is catastrophic!”

I received a very clear answer. “You’ve got the wisdom. You know what to do, so FIGURE IT OUT.” I sat there dumbfounded.

“Okay, I know what to do. What are my tools?” I said to myself.

I centered myself to bring up an intention and brought out my CD, Dream a New Dream, because at least with headphones on the sounds wouldn’t be so distracting. I use Dream a New Dream almost daily and it takes me into an amazing state of joy. I enjoy being led through the guided meditation of unburdening, dismembering, and filling with the light of love.

I declared my intention to the universe: “What I want to manifest is for the logging to stop during the workshop and for the pristine sounds of nature to be the only sounds we hear during our stay.”

I sat down and listened to the CD. When it came to the part of envisioning my desired dream using all of my senses, I went into the feeling of love; how much I love wood products: my house, my decks, paper, neighborhoods, cities, and all the things that are made from wood. I felt the joy of walking around my house and feeling my wood floors and how much I enjoy their aesthetic beauty, listening to people walk in and say, “Wow this is beautiful.” And I imagined myself going out on my decks and enjoying their expansive connection to outdoor living in which I thrive.

This went on for several minutes, as I invested my whole, sensual self in the experience. Then I moved into awareness of the loggers. These men must feel great joy bringing home a paycheck to their family; putting food on the table, shoes on their children’s feet, and clothes on their backs. They are providing for their family, which usually fills a man with joy. I moved into these feelings and felt confident, happy, successful, and sensed the male bonding that many of them might experience.

I was glowing by the time the CD ended and was completely present to the environment. I used the sound of the chain saws as a meditative tool to hold presence and journey through the rest of the day. I sang songs and was completely in tune with love. I felt wonderful because I chose happiness despite the situation, even though an hour before I had termed the situation catastrophic.

The clear-cutting sounds that started at 6:30 am the next day had diminished by about fifty percent, but the sound was horrifically distressing to the now arriving participants. As they gathered, I shared my good message about my experience and I told them what I wanted them to do. Think positively and concentrate on the wonderful qualities of wood products. Everyone participated in a great way and smiles and happiness where the result.

The following day the workshop began. There was still some logging operation noise, but it was minimal. I stood up to do an invocation to the spirits and the chain saws stopped, the trucks stopped, and the logging site became deserted. We all stared at each other in amazement. The silence was loud and made a clear statement of my desired manifestation.

Later in the day, when I had time to meditate and pray about this, I asked Source, “How did this happen?” The answer I received was, “You became the vibration of what you wanted to attract. You wanted joy in camp, you wanted peace in camp; you had to become those things to attract it.”

If I had stayed emotionally and vibrationally where I originally started – scared, angry, and worried – I would have created the situation to stay dismal. If people arriving had tapped into that and added to it, the result would have been harmful to the workshop. Emotional havoc creates emotional trauma, and creates physical difficulties.

“Anti” energy is an angry, frustrated, livid, fearful, and aggressive vibrational broadcast. The feeling might seem to make a difference for a moment, but the problem will usually pop up in some other form. Anti energy doesn’t work according to the laws of attraction.

If you want to be an activist, be an activist of the light. Dream your new dream of reality and then be a match for it vibrationally by being enthused, motivated, excited, appreciative, passionate, and happy. Spend time in altered reality envisioning your dream by engaging all of your senses. Create it in the un-manifest with detail and then feel so excited about this creation that it easily is drawn to you through the power of the law. If you do your part, this will happen.

View Becoming Yourself:  The Journey from Head to Heart here.

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Instantaneous Healing

LightSong Healing center provides extensive training and development opportunities that help individuals to grow spiritually and thrive as well beings. One of the most significant experiences involves participation in a practicum.

This year LightSong had its 31st practicum. The name of the practicum is Telepathic Communication Workshop.  It is part of our second level course titled: “The Practical Shaman: Spiritual Techniques for the 21st Century.”  I teach this course in nature and we all camp together in the Tillamook Rain Forest in Oregon.  It is an aesthetically stunning fairy fern forest and we all thrive in her beauty.  There are usually about a hundred participants.  We eat spirit-filled food and live together in what I feel is a microcosm of the perfect New Earth.  Collaboration, Unification, Support and Love are our cornerstones. As I prepared for the course this year I thought about how I might teach the same thing year after year but with a different emphasis and different approach. Spiritual truths are precise certainties and they cannot be modified, only presented differently. These teachings are ancient and have been taught for thousands of years, and I wanted to make them accessible and impactful for my students.

In the past, I have approached shamanism and telepathic communication through the lens of the Creation Laws, commonly known as the Law of Attraction, which is a metaphysical approach. I often reference the quantum science of these laws.  However, I have found when you have an audience of metaphysically-minded people, the science qualifiers are not usually needed.  These folks accept the teachings without the science, because they feel it’s true.

Because I have a strong science background and I like to be a bridge between the two worlds of science and spirituality I decided to look up and read some of the experiments that would validate the metaphysical beliefs that we already hold.  My research led me into some of the ancient texts, much of it through the Bible. The way most Christians have known the Bible is in an abridged and changed version. But some of the ancient texts written many years or even centuries before the Bible weren’t included in the book form or the original text has since been changed. Many of these documents have been stored in Tibet and Egypt and are available to read on the Internet, some of them scanned and in their original form. 

When you read the original writings about prayer and manifestation from Jesus’s teachings, as well as the some of the writings in the Torah and Koran, you will discover a commonality across cultures and ideologies, especially in the entreaties in how to achieve and attain the things we desire.

Most people pray with supplication, like they are trying to evoke something to happen or become.  The prayers usually fall into one or more of these four categories: ceremonial, meditative, petitioned, or informational. In each of these styles, prayer indicates you want something you don’t have and you need a divine intervention to help you bring it to you.  This style of prayer implies you’re not being in your full power as the creator of the universe. If you are the creator of the universe, who do you ask for assistance? How do you empower yourself to create at the level you want and desire?

The quantum experiments that I read through showed that humans are creating the universe, through FEELINGS or EMOTIONS. I know when I first started studying energy medicine and telepathic communication I thought we created through thought. I believe many people have been and still are confused in believing that thought is the power source for humans. Many people studying metaphysics misheard what contemporary teachings such as “The Secret,” “What the Bleep Do We Know,” and other recent information were saying. Many concluded that if they were to “think” or “say” certain things, they could get whatever they desired. However, it is when you truly feel the emotion of your desired outcome of your prayer that you broadcast in a vibrational emotional frequency that the universe recognizes; and that is when you attract positive results into manifested form. When you embody the feeling, you are then in the place of empowerment, because it is your feeling that then creates or manifests.

A well know scripture verse, John 16:24, in early translation, reads: “Ask and ye shall receive that your joy may be full.”

The original text in translation suggests more: “Ask without hidden motive and be surrounded by your answer.  Be enveloped by what you desire that your gladness may be full.”

The clear difference between these two writings is the importance of the word enveloped or to FEEL as if the desire/prayer is already complete and it is all around.  Another thing to notice are the words “ask without hidden motive”.  Energetically if you have a hidden motive that motive will override any words that you may speak; the vibration of the hidden motive will always dominate an energetic broadcast.  To fully embody a feeling, it needs to be a pure feeling— complete and whole in its agenda.

Just before practicum I got very sick. I seldom get sick. This is abnormal for me, for I went nineteen years without getting sick on any level. However, I was so sick that I couldn’t make the last pre-practicum meeting or the sweat lodge that I usually pour before we all leave for the land. I was doing shamanic journeys around this asking my spiritual allies why I was to be so uninvolved with the standard pre-activities.

I knew that my students would be praying for me especially in the sweat lodge, a sacred place of prayer.  I realized while reading the ancient text that I didn’t want people to pray for me because praying for someone was immediately putting them in a disempowered disadvantaged state.  Pulling from the original words of Jesus I wanted people to “FEEL” my vitality. So, I sent word for the people to “feel my vitality for me and it will telepathically transfer to me.”

Now you might be wondering why I didn’t feel my vitality for myself to manifest it for myself? I realized that when you are sick it is very difficult to embody the feelings of vitality even if you are very familiar with them.  In fact I usually live in a state of vitality, but in this weakened state I couldn’t find or even remember the feeling.

I told Lauri, the woman that was to pour the lodge for me, to have people in the lodge feel vitality for me, then telepathically transfer it to me. This was an effort that we have been practicing at the practicum for 31 gatherings.  Lauri gave the teachings exactly as I asked. I went to bed that night about 6:00pm still extremely fatigued and when I woke up, I felt completely different; I felt like something had really changed. I felt alive and vital, although still displaying a few symptoms of my illness. I was feeling quite good and kept getting better as I rekindled that flame of vitality in me that had been reignited.  I was now able to do it for myself.

I learned so much in my illness:

  1. I believe there is always a bigger picture in the events of our lives.  I believe that I got sick to help me teach others how to heal telepathically. 
  2. It gave the participants of the lodge a pre-activity to practice before we went to the land for the practicum.
  3. Sometimes, when people are in a bad way, they can’t find the feelings we’re asking them to find; but we can, as compassionate people, feel it for them. Our feelings instantaneously create.
  4. Telepathic communication implies that there is a transfer going on.  A person sends a feeling to another.  However, the truth is that the effect is instantaneous and not delayed by transfer or transmission. 
  5. We need each other because we are different expressions of each other. As we feel something, another person can immediately share in that feeling without delay or compromise.

I’ve been unfolding this information for myself for quite some time. In my article last month, I wrote about how I asked my spirit allies why my soul retrievals have always been so successful. The spirits gave two reasons: 1) I have the ability to see the wellness in someone; I don’t listen to their problems and identify them by their problems, and 2) I feel their true self totally. In other words, I could embody their wellness in every cell of my body. My embodiment of their wellness serviced them to obtain wellness.

During my preparations and research into the science of healing, I watched a video about a medicine-less hospital in Beijing. The physicians focus their intent and embody the feelings of the patient’s wellness. I watched a film of one of these “surgeries.”  The doctors and nurses were dressed like physicians in scrubs and operating garb and were standing around a sonogram machine. The patient was a woman with a three-inch tumor in her bladder that was inoperable. The sonogram was imaging the tumor and took a still shot of the tumor which was displayed on the left side of the screen. The surgery was then filmed in real time while the healers were watching the sonogram screen. The practitioners (doctors and nurses) had agreed before hand to what feeling they were going to hold during the surgery; they decided it was the feeling of  “already done.” This surgery had no incisions, instruments or anesthesia but was done by chanting and embodying a feeling; the words weren’t important, but the feeling the practitioners could conjure up in their bodies was. Then the chant turned to “now, now, now.”  And within three minutes the tumor had disappeared out of the woman’s body. This is the way this medicine-less hospital works. They do this every day for all kinds of maladies.

Important to the operation was the patient’s feeling that he believed in the possibility of the healing and that it would be successful. The doctors were trained to be focused on how to hold a feeling powerfully and to expect an instantaneous healing. When the power is there, the universe responds instantaneously.

Some of the research in quantum physics suggests that the speed of light, which has been long held as the maximum velocity attainable, may not be the limitation that it had once seemed. Instantaneous effects can be achieved, apparently, across vast distances in space and even appear before the transmission of the event occurs. Our perceptions of time must change if we are to understand such phenomena. In the metaphysical world, the connections across time and space are not limited by a mind restricted to artificial boundaries. We have come to understand that our feelings and deeper sense of reality can shatter the restrictions that we have placed on ourselves in ordinary reality. Science and metaphysics may arrive at the same conclusion, however different may be the journey. Feelings and emotions may be the bridge that supersede the limits of rational thought.

Photo credit: patrick.verstappen via

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Awaken Unburden Create

Many years ago I was working with a client that was a doctor.  His main clientele were patients that had spinal or brain injuries. They were mainly quadriplegic or paraplegic and were suffering on multiple levels—not just the loss of mobility but the sudden dramatic change in life style and livelihood caused by this severe disability.  Many were suffering from depression.  It is hard to imagine how difficult such a life would be.  My client was enthusiastic  about  the soul retrieval process that I had just performed on him and wanted to bring this healing modality to his patients.  The question was how do we reach these men and women?  They were not capable of coming to me for a session and in many cases their situations were so dismal that learning shamanism seemed overwhelming.  My client kept asking me how could we reach these people because he felt that they would heal and acclimate to their new lifestyle much more rapidly if they received a soul retrieval.  I pondered and prayed about this.  As I reviewed the process of soul retrieval, I realized that it is a ceremony of retrieving energy and that anyone could retrieve their soul parts if they knew the method.  A soul retrieval is designed to bring back the pieces of you that have been lost, given away or taken from you. Through individual experiences, usually some sort of trauma, a person loses part of himself. In psychology, it is called “disassociation.” Basically, it is a survival mechanism to withstand the pain of a traumatic or intensely uncomfortable situation. What psychology does not ask is where the lost part goes and how one gets it back. A void then exists in that person’s divine essence. Think of your divine essence, your energy system, as a giant jigsaw puzzle. When you experience a trauma, a piece of the puzzle is lost, leaving an empty space in the puzzle. A soul retrieval retrieves the lost puzzle pieces, bringing about a wholeness of your true self and your divine essence.

Along with that, I believe that all energy follows particular energetic laws of the universe.  The law that I feel governs human life most profoundly is the creation laws, commonly known as the law of attraction, which says, “All energy is liken to its own kind.”  What this law means is that there is a resonance of attraction that pulls like frequencies together. For example, if you hit a tuning fork that is tuned to the note A, a tuning fork across the room will start to vibrate, if it is also A. If the tuning fork across the room is tuned to the note G, nothing will happen.

I believe that all things are made of energy, and so all things vibrate at particular frequencies. Words are energy, thoughts are energy, action is energy and beliefs are energy.  Some energy is high frequency and some energy is low frequency.  Human souls are high frequency energy systems, as are certain words and feelings such as love, laughter, joy, brilliance, radiance, and thankfulness.  The reasons these feelings and words “feel” so good to humans is because they “match” a resonance of our divine essence. Words and feelings such as loss, hate, betrayal, regret, depression, and scarcity are very low frequency vibrations; they are not a match to the true self of the human energy system and they can bring about difficulties for a person.  Good health—physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually—comes about when lower frequency vibrations are removed and higher frequency vibrations are instilled in ceremonies such as soul retrieval. 

Energy systems are in constant motion. Energy moves and flows, and energy systems must be maintained.  Just as a battery can get corroded and stop working, so can a human energy system become corroded and break down.  However, with maintenance and recharging, our energy system is sustainable and high-functioning. 

Our indigenous forefathers understood this, and there are many ceremonies and rituals that are used to attend to maintaining the energetic systems of human beings. Soul retrieval is one of these ancient ceremonies. I believe that is why these cultures are notably contented, happy, and crime-free. People who are whole or feel good about themselves handle the ups and downs of life in a wholesome way. When people feel fearful, threatened, or fragmented, their responses to life are extremely different from those who feel trustful, optimistic, whole, and complete. In our culture, we have very little experience with sustaining trust and optimism.

My success as a shamanic practitioner has been extraordinary and I often wondered why I had such amazing results. What was I doing differently from others that created such consistently good responses to the ceremony.  I asked my spirit allies about this.  My allies informed me that one of the things that I am able to do is to see beyond people’s issues or problems and see the divine in them.  The divine that is, of course, healthy, vital, and full of divine essence.  The brilliance of each person. The high vibrational energy of each person. Because I was able to “see” the person this way, it opened the door for this reality to express. In other words the creation laws of attraction were activated. The spirits see us this way, just our divine nature, but rarely do humans gaze upon other humans this way. The question that I pondered was can others find this for themselves. Finding, experiencing, and feeling your own brilliance is healing. Many people are so out of touch with their own true self, their own radiance and brilliance that they have no idea what the true self actually feels like. Once the feeling is “re- membered” of felt, learning how to live from this place of brilliance will become easier.

I also realized that people need to be able to practice this and if their injury or soul loss was extensive they probably would need several soul retrievals.  The event will cause soul loss but then the continual thinking about the event will cause repeatedly more soul loss.  In the ideal world, a person would receive a soul retrieval and then never revisit the harmful event again in their mind.  They will move forward in life dreaming a new dream for and of themselves. Technically we are energy broadcasting towers. We are creating from our emotions with every thought, word, action and belief and broadcasting these emotional energies into the world. If we think more about what is wrong and what we don’t like, we will create more of the same. In fact, most people are creating more of what they don’t want instead of what they do want because the negatives get most of their energy. Manifesting is a cumulative thing. Whatever gets the most energy will win.

The other thing that I did before each session was I did a guided imagery meditation with each client.  The meditation was designed to bring great relaxation and opening of the heart. The meditation also was designed to help shed burdens and remove energetic blocks. Behavioral patterns handed down through family systems are gently removed and dismembered.  I found that the more I could get a person released from their attachment of their wounds, aches, pains, body image, and their perception of themselves the more easily the soul parts returned to them.

I decided I needed to take the sacred shamanic rituals that have been understood and used for centuries and makes them user friendly in today’s contemporary world. They needed to be available for those that were unable to seek out shamanic healing such as my clients patients as well as anyone else. The benefits, the healings and the results of these age-old healing rites need to be available to anyone.

I decided to create and record guided meditations that are based in the ancient shamanic rituals for healing.  I took out all reference to shamanism so the meditations fit in our contemporary world.  I now offer these recorded meditations to the public.  The title of the 3 pack of CD’s is Awaken Unburden Create.  These can be used daily for maximum benefit to maintenance your energy system in a conscious way.  I use them myself regularly.

My intention is that you are happy and that you live life fully from a place of divine radiance and brilliance.  That there is joy and excitement about each new day.  That you are empowered to take care of yourself and to create your life consciously. 

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The Meaning of Life

We all seek meaning in life and we have different reasons to believe that we have found it or we resign ourselves to an existential belief that there is no meaning to existence. I cannot subscribe to the latter because my life has meaning and it is significant.

As a shamanic healer, I have witnessed many miracles in the transformations in people’s lives in their health, relationships and future prospects. The one common factor in these events has been a return to happiness or an expansive appreciation of existing happiness. In the challenges of life, we are often traumatized, damaged, or assailed by forces we believe are taking our feeling of contentment or empowerment from us and leaving us mourning our loss. Shamanic healing work seeks to restore soul loss and a greater sense of wellbeing. The universe’s message for our restoration is in love and relationship. The work I have done returns continually to first finding the power to recognize one’s own worthiness, to love oneself, and to find the importance of the individual in the unity of the cosmos. When we have restored our lost soul parts, we can come to understand that we are not simply a part of the universe but that we are the universe. The arbitrary act of seeing our existence as an individual part of a vast space fails to appreciate the fully integrated and interdependent nature of all things. We are as vast as the cosmos and the cosmos exists within our heart.

Quantum physics emerged in the twentieth century in quest of elucidations beyond our prior Newtonian arbitrary explanations. The spiritual idea of a mystical connectedness of all things in a singular unity suddenly seems plausible in the scientific realm. Furthermore, quantum physics theorizes that experiments are influenced by the observer of the action, which undermines the basic scientific “fact” that there is an objective world, irrespective of us. And what of the mystery of consciousness? The universe exists within our perception of it, and we exist not as a part of its being but actually as the universe itself.

Seeing all within ourselves and seeing ourselves within all of existence compels us to consider the importance of relationships. In one respect, we are not our brother or sister’s keeper; we are our brother and our sister.

There is no greater joy to be found than in the pleasure of a loving relationship. We feed off each other in a symbiotic association that constantly restores us and vitalizes the bond that we have with family, friends, and, I would dare say, strangers. In these connections, we begin to exist as we were intended to—a part of one entity called the universe.

An important contributor to this understanding originated two years after the death of my mother. My mom came from the “other side” and she appeared to me in her most radiant self. The love that emanated from her was spellbinding. We greeted each other with hugs and kisses and I was overwhelmed with memories of special moments we had together. My life and relationship with my mom unrolled before me and the years passed in my mind’s eye in vivid recall. The experience was more holistic than chronological and all my senses were activated by the memories. The time from my birth until her death seemed to engulf me in warmth and love. In time, I gained my composure and we spoke. I asked her what she wanted to share with me. She said that life is all about love and relationships. She told me that what we don’t bring into alignment in this lifetime, we will repeat in other lifetimes until we get it right. She said that life was but a moment in time and that we must strive to foster loving relationships if our lives were to be fulfilled and that we should share this wisdom with our children and grandchildren.

The meaning of life for me, therefore, is defined as existing in compatibility with the oneness of the universe and in life that translates into loving relationships that bring us all together. It is all we know and all we need to know.

Jan Engels-Smith is an author, a Shamanic Practitioner (ShD), an Usui, Tibetan and Karuna Reiki Master, a Licensed Professional Counselor, a Chemical Dependency Specialist and a Hypnotherapist.

Jan founded LightSong School of 21st Century Shamanism and LightSong Healing Center. Jan has performed over 3500 soul retrievals and considered a leading expert in her field of shamanism. Jan has authored two books; Jan’s book Becoming Yourself: The Journey from Head to Heart, won the Reader’s Choice Award and Through the Rabbit Hole: Exploring Energy and the Shamanic Journey.  She is a diamond level author with Ezine Articles and writes a monthly article for Sedona Journal of Emergence. Jan also authored two CDs: Take Your Body With You a shamanic drumming CD and Awaken~Unburden~Create a meditation CD package of shamanic healing practices.

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Healing Yourself and the World

Years ago, the spirits said to me that every person born has the capacity to heal the world singlehandedly. That means that YOU and I have remarkable powers. The important lesson for each of us is to understand how to recognize and employ the influences that we can bring to bear to change ourselves and our world. I would like to share some things about myself so you might understand how I approach life and the experiences that have convinced me that we can all have an amazing influence in the universe.

I started my career as a biology and chemistry teacher, teaching science in high school for ten years. I acquired an advance degree in psychology, worked as a counselor, and eventually began a private counseling practice. 

I then had a mystical experience that turned my life upside down and inside out.  I have spent the last 25 years exploring this experience and how it relates to all of us. I had a vision where an old Native-American woman appeared to me. In my vision she approached me and I asked who she was.  She replied:

I am you,
I am your mother,
I am your sister,
I am your grandmother,
I am the Earth.

She had gray hair pulled back tightly in a bun and her skin was wrinkled and weathered by life. She was wrapped in a wool blanket and was smoking a pipe. She asked if I wanted to join in the sisterhood, but warned me that my life would be forever changed. I was doubtful.  There was a crow cawing outside my window but instead of hearing caw, caw caw I heard trust, trust, trust. I nodded my head and spoke the word “Yes.”

I remember being extremely nervous, but there was a peculiar kind of strength surrounding and supporting me. We sat down and she handed me the pipe and we smoked it together, passing it back and forth. When we finished smoking the pipe, she spoke again. “Your guidance will be provided. Your medicine that you carry is North—Wisdom, Healing, and Love. Begin now to start reading and learn to understand the Ways.” This propelled me into the study of shamanism and energy medicine, where I became preoccupied with wellness and how to be well. 

The part of this exploration that I would like to share with you concerns my discoveries. My mystical experience compelled me to move out of the box of what current research explains about these types of experiences and to study, interact with, and learn from indigenous peoples, cultures and mostly my own spiritual ally’s in the invisible realms. In these studies and explorations, I learned “the ways” that the old Indian woman had referenced. I came to understand that indigenous peoples and cultures view mystical experiences as the norm not an anomaly.  I learned much about mystical experiences, some of which date back several millennia. In these past 25 years, I have performed some of the ancient healing ceremonies, including more than 3500 individual soul retrievals, primarily to promote wellness—emotional, physical, and spiritual.

I learned how to contemporize the process so that I could bring these ceremonies to my clients in my private practice. The essential practices remain the same but the context and language that I use with clients allows for clear communication and connects to the spiritual enlightenment that we share today. My practice eventually led to my creating a school that teaches these approaches to spiritual healing that honors the ancient wisdom of our elders, which I believe is pertinent to everyone.

In shamanism or energy medicine we view a person as a spirit, soul, and energy system having a human experience.  Every part of you is energy, just as everything else that exists in the universe is energy.  Therefore, maintaining your energy system is primary to wellbeing. The practices that we share are beautiful examples of living the truths of caring for oneself and others in the realms of the physical, spiritual, and philosophical.

I want to encourage you to look at yourself as an energy system and how to heal, live a longer life, and be healthier in all your natures by simply thinking about yourself as energy and believing that you are in control of your energy.  You are at the helm of your wellness.   

Remember every person can heal the world singlehandedly because as you heal yourself, you heal the world. Positive energies in individuals multiply out into the universe and alter all that is around us. Each positive energetic vibration affects all that it touches and our energy is infinite.

Another thing the spirits have consistently taught me relates to a question I always pondered in the study and teaching of biology. Why do we die so young, when we are perfectly designed to live at least twice as long as we do? Again the answers seem to relate back to the maintenance of your energy system.

Think of yourself as a jigsaw puzzle.  When you are born, you have all your pieces of the puzzle.  As you age you experience trauma and other difficulties.  When this happens, we tend to dissociate, which is the psychological term for what we in shamanism would refer to as experiencing soul or energy loss. In the pain that we encounter in difficult times, we experience a numbing condition that is natural and a biological survival mechanism. This loss of energy can be an effective way for the mind to cope and endure pain. However, we need to ask ourselves, “Where did this energy go and how do we get it back?”

This energy is yours, your signature, and your divine essence, and in these traumatic conditions you come to have less of it. In thinking of yourself as a jigsaw puzzle, imagine that you have lost a piece of yourself. Throughout your life, you will lose more and more pieces, which equates to losing energy and potentials.  Sometimes the energy loss carries personal qualities with it, such as the loss of confidence, worth, self-esteem or significant values.

You now have “holes” in your system, just as the jigsaw puzzle has open vulnerable spaces.  These spaces will then fill with energies that aren’t yours.  Remember everything is energy.  Words, attitudes, and opinions can infiltrate into your system when you are vulnerable. We call these intrusions. These energies, which are often negative, are intruding into your energy field. Soul loss makes you more susceptible to these invasive forces.

The beautiful thing about the soul, another term for your energy system, is that it is considered a very high energy vibration.  It is vibrant, magnificent, brilliant, curious, and creative—the epitome of wellness.   Complete wellness is reestablished when the intrusions can be taken out of your energy system and the divine essence can be brought back.  This can be done professionally with a shaman; however, I believe that you have the power to do this for yourself, especially if you develop a maintenance program for yourself.

As a licensed professional therapist, I didn’t want to work with clients longer than necessary. It is important for every individual to achieve personal success and not to be perpetually dependent on others.  I always wondered why people are in therapy for years; it just didn’t make sense to me.  I realized that with therapy a person could cognitively understand what had happened to them, and possibly even why it had happened, but they couldn’t seem to own the healing fully in their body, mind and soul.

When I learned about shamanism and soul retrieval I understood why.  The part of the client that needed to own the healing wasn’t even present within the person. Divine essence had floated away in soul loss and the energetic program of the intrusions in their system were having a major influence on the person’s wellbeing. That is when I converted my private psychotherapy practice over to shamanism.  The treatment involved clearing out the intrusions in a person and then bringing back the soul pieces, one’s own divine essence. The return of their own divine essence appropriately filled the void and a feeling of completeness ensued. When you fix the energy system then everything else adjusts accordingly.

My pursuit of understanding wellness and how to restore it became an integral part of my life.  I was doing two soul retrievals on many days for years, booking out four months in advance, with each person requiring about seven hours of work.  After 3500 sessions, I learned a lot!

A doctor once participated in a soul retrieval with me and after he had gone through the procedures told me that many of his patients had brain or spinal cord injuries.  Their lives had changed dramatically and some were either paraplegic or quadriplegic and often suffered from extreme depression.  He wondered if these methods could work for them?  I believe that they can even in these most extreme of circumstances.

There are many dynamics to consider in a healing practice: the individual’s belief systems, the desire to learn something like shamanism, the availability of individuals to receive help. I wanted to bring this healing modality to as many people as possible and I turned to my spiritual allies for help. They suggested that I create guided imagery and provide the major components of wellness from a shamanic perspective on recordings for many to access.  People could then listen to them daily and receive the benefits of continual maintenance of their soul. That led to the creation of Awaken, Unburden, Create, a compact disc that I have distributed for several years.

I also devised follow-up steps for clients to employ on their own after our healing sessions.  The goal is for the individual to maintain the healing, to make the changes necessary in thinking, and to believe with confidence that they can return to the divine essence they were created with.  That was the reason for writing my first book Becoming Yourself, which offers not only explanations but several activities to practice for a well being lifestyle. 

I realized that when a person is whole and complete they broadcast an energy out into the world from their chakras and their auric fields that is also whole and complete.  That energy is invasive and it connects to every other living thing, since we are all energy.  You literally heal others by being in your radiance.  To change the world, you don’t need to attend rallies or be on the front lines of protests; although some may find such practices energizing.  What you do need to do is focus on yourself.  Notice your broadcast out into the world.  Is it from a wounded soul or from a wellbeing?   Whatever your broadcast consists of is what you are contributing daily to humanity.

How important you are, how influential you are, and mostly how incredibly brilliant and magnificent you are.  You are the key to wellness for yourself and for others.

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Fire Walk

In 1992 I was introduced to a native elder and he changed my perspectives about life and truths in amazing ways.  I remember him saying that Christians believe miraculous stories out of the Bible, such as the burning bush, the parting of the Red Sea, the dead coming back to life, but they don’t expect miraculous things to happen in today’s world.  I have pondered that comment for the past twenty-five years.  During that time, I have immersed myself in shamanism and energy medicine, which dwells in the realities of miraculous norms much like the perspective of my indigenous elder.  I have witnessed countless occurrences that boggle the mind and fall into unexplainable categories.  The spectrum is vast in its “awe and wow” factors.  Things that I now experience as normal still shock many acquaintances of mine when we chat and to me these are minor in comparison to the reality that I live.  I experienced this the other day when I was sharing some photos on my phone with a friend and I came across photos of a fire walk. 

To me fire walking is normal and something that I do regularly and I had forgotten that this is still not understandable to many.  When my friend asked how do you do this, I realized there is a chasm of personal realities that separate us.  I thought back to my first experience of fire-walking in 1994 to remind myself of how he must feel.

“Earth, my body,

Water, my blood,

Air, my breath,

And fire, my spirit.”

This tune rhythmically repeated over and over in my mind. The excitement and energy swirled around the others and me. I felt connected to nature, to the fire, and to my spirit allies. My bare feet were tingling from the immense amount of energy running through my body. I felt a force vibrating in my muscles and deep within my being.

I had participated in the building of the fire, embellishing each log with my prayers. I ignited the corn oil soaked logs and watched a blaze leap and dance fifteen feet into the air. We danced and sang for two hours as the heat intensified, burning the wood to its hottest point. I participated in raking the burning embers into the sculptured runway that we would walk across. My hands burned from the intense heat rising up from the sizzling wood and the rake handle grew hot to the touch. My face was flushed and hot, sweltering from the heat. The whole process brought me intimately close to the intensity of the heat, to the fire, and to the reality of my quest. I had become invested in the fire and felt a kinship with it.

As I stood there ready to walk, I called to my spirit allies and felt them swirling around me. I set my intention; it was simple and precise, “I am walking to the other side.”

I stood at the threshold of a moment of truth. The heat of the embers and the smell of the smoke intruded momentarily into my senses, but they seemed overwhelmed by the faith that had built within me. I found all the scientific laws I had learned to be replaced by the natural laws of the universe I had come to know. What was to prove true in this moment was not a part of the “truths” I had been taught by the world, but those I had been taught by Spirit.

When I raised my foot from the coolness of the dirt edging the pit, I did so without hesitation or trepidation. I had anticipated a test of wills between the fire and myself. I had expected to draw on my inner and physical strength to resist the intensity of the heat. It was to prove otherwise.

I stepped out onto the burning wood and started across. I was immediately surprised that I felt no heat on my feet; not just an absence of burning, but actually an absence of any heat at all. The only physical sensation was a hard, crunchy feeling as I placed each foot one before the other as I moved across the burning wood. I was not competing or resisting the fire—our strong spirits honored and respected each other. There was no contest of wills, only a merging of the fire’s powerful spirit with my own.

A fire capable of consuming flesh did not deny me. It invited and understood the changes in my soul—the vanishing of learned fears and the growth of courage and confidence. What the spirits had been teaching me about faith, about transcending physical law, about willingness, had just become a physical reality. Concepts became real and tangible and set into my cells as experience—unexplainable perhaps to the mental mind, but real just the same. The walk was exhilarating, an empowering journey without fear or pain. I made it to the other side.

My faith soared in the process. I was elated and high on life from what I had just done. I had to do it again. That night I went over the fire several times. With each experience, I built tremendous trust in the process. At the end of the night I was completely empowered.

I thought, “Just look at what I have done!” 

I felt that anything was now within my grasp.

These feelings held true for everyone in my group. A buzz of conversation ensued. Everyone laughed easily and shared the excitement and sense of accomplishment. There was giddiness to the occasion—all earlier efforts at focus and preparation were now replaced by giggles and laughter. The energy remained high, but there was an almost audible release of tension. It was like moving from holding one’s breath to squeals of delight. The initial sense of apprehension was replaced by elation at having mastered one’s fear. All were ecstatic.

Fire-walking is about love, intention, willingness, and mystery. The outcomes of this experience were happiness, trust, faith, and empowerment. Not a bad set of results! Fire-walking is just one way the spirits have physically taught me that all things are possible. I learned firsthand that fire-walking cannot be explained by the rational mind, and to attempt to do so is a waste of energy. I also learned that intention and belief alter physical law, even the law that says, “Fire burns, fire kills, fire disfigures.”

The spirits again brought home the fact that we, as humans, are only limited by our own minds, our belief systems, and our fears.

Since this experience, Spirit has taught me much about manmade laws and physical laws. We need them to help us understand our world and to explain why things work the way they do. They provide a tremendous amount of safety to our frail humanness. However, when working with Spirit, we are capable of altering any of our frailties. Spirit is not limited by gravity, fire, the speed of light, time, or locality. All is possible. Belief in such feats is non-rational, requiring that one be able to move beyond rational thought to understand that the universal consciousness dwarfs our rational minds.

The Native Americans have a term that is used for Spirit, for All. They refer to the Great Mystery. It is a perfect expression. Spirit is a mystery and should stay that way. Some things are not to be explained. When we explain, we limit. When we believe in the Great Mystery, we see the possible in the impossible and understand that which cannot be explained. The rational mind limits possibilities, growth, discoveries—it limits you.

Spirit wants us to change from the question, “How can that be done?” to the statement, “I can do that.”

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The Birthing Sash

Throughout history spiritual practitioners have imbued objects with special powers and have sought healing from the physical world. There are healing waters in special places, physical icons such as pieces of Christ’s cross, and many images and symbolic representations that people of all beliefs attend to for their magical powers. The power of the cross, the star of David, the crescent moon of Islam, and all of the other symbols of religion do not have power independent of the energies that followers of religions bring to the symbols. In the darkest histories of any religion one can identify the powerful negative energy that produces violence against others, wars, and persecution when people distort the power of their religion for evil and selfish purposes. In contrast, in the most enlightened moments of religious faith, people have imbued their beliefs and the symbols of their faith with powerful positive dynamism that embodies the best of our spiritual souls and we have benefited from the power of positive thoughts. The reason that such objects have such profound effects is because of the energies that people have brought to the objects in their quest for healing or the restoration of damaged soul parts or simply to feel an improvement in their emotional state.

In my work I create altars to share with others. The altar might, in any iteration, contain objects from many sources and can serve to connect us to each other as well as to the cosmos. The most significant characteristic of an altar is in the intentions that are placed in the objects and that in turn impact those who would participate in a ritual or ceremony. In some of our gatherings, people are encouraged to place objects on the altar after they have imbued the objects with their blessings and joy. Our accompanying meditations are intended to convey positive energies and everyone in the circle of community can benefit from the shared affirmations.

Many people are familiar with Masaru Emoto, a Japanese author and researcher, who created experiments to demonstrate that human consciousness could have an effect on water. His book, Messages from Water, contains photographs of ice crystals that were formed after the water had been imbued with either positive or negative thoughts and words. The resulting crystal structures reflected the energy of the words that were used, resulting in forms that were aesthetically pleasing if the water had been exposed to positive word images and “ugly” forms if the water had been affected by negative intentions. Emoto has done extensive research with the concept of imbuing. He did numerous studies and published four books. In his experiments he would tape words to vials of water, bring the water to freezing point and then photograph the crystals that formed. He found fascinating results with both the beauty of positive words and the crystals that formed and the ugliness of negative words and the broken or unformed chaotic masses from the energy of negativity. His research contributed to my understanding of how powerful blessings are and how powerful words can affect us especially those that we wear on clothing or on objects against our bodies. Remember that we are 75-80% water and the energy of the words works on our bodies just as it does on vials of water.

Our thoughts and our intentions affect our environment and all the people and objects that fall within our influence. Energy fields pulsate out and carry with them positive or negative messages that impact and alter all with which they come into contact. This effort to imbue objects with positive powers can carry into the everyday experiences of our lives. This phenomenon was the reason that I created a “birthing sash” for my daughter as she prepared to give birth to her first child. I wanted her experience to be positive and an affirmation of the joy of giving birth. With all experience, a positive beginning presages the greater possibility of a more sustained and affirmative result and long lasting joy and happiness.

The purpose of the sash was to bring the positive energies of blessings and well wishes from family and friends and to make the experience of the birth an affirmation of the joy of bringing a new being to life. Pregnancy and giving birth can be a difficult experience because of the trauma that a mother might endure physically and emotionally and this makes the contribution of positive energy even more important both to the comfort of the new mother and to the new infant.

As my daughter prepared for her birthing experience, she prepared a nursery in her home with new furniture and decorations. She chose particular colors to highlight the room and to create the new “home” for her soon-to-be son. I planned the birthing sash to coordinate with her images of the nursery by purchasing a large amount of colored ribbons in the colors she had selected for the room. The ribbons would become the fabric of the sash. I cut the ribbons into appropriate lengths that could later be woven together and rolled the pieces into balls and put them into individual small containers in preparation for a baby shower sponsored by my daughter’s friends. I was hosting the celebration at my house and that provided me the opportunity to organize the event of the blessing of the ribbons by friends and family.

As we sat together we did a meditation and blessing ritual that involved the passing of each ribbon from one person to the next until all in attendance had bestowed a personal blessing on each ribbon. Each attendant offered a blessing for the labor process and for the newborn. About thirty people touched each ribbon, not just with their hands but also with their hearts and their souls. The positive energy of the blessing ceremony was palpable and people were enthused to have the opportunity to send wishes that we all knew would make the experience and the resulting birth a success.

After the shower, I braided the ribbons into strands that I could weave together into sections that I then sewed into a wide, long sash. My daughter could lay the sash across her belly as she awaited the delivery date. During her delivery, we placed the sash across her as her son was born. The energies of the many friends and family members who had blessed the ribbons were present throughout the event and a strong and healthy child was born. To this day he continues to exhibit all the joy and love that was consecrated in him by so many people who shared their love and kind wishes for his life.

Later we mounted the sash on a rod that allowed it to be hung on the wall in the nursery. The positive energies of this object of love continues to this day to create joy in the room of this little boy as he grows up, loved and cared for by parents and grandparents and friends.

We all emit vibrations that have effects on all that we observe and touch. When these vibrations carry constructive and joyful energies they alter all with which they come into contact in a positive way. The birthing sash was an opportunity to capture these energies and transfer them in a magnitude compounded by many people joining in a common effort of caring and love.

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The Election of 2016

Like every one before, the past year brought many challenges, opportunities, setbacks and progress. We are confronted as always with choices in how we view our world and how we respond to the conditions that exist. Politics was a big part of the story of 2016, but I am not one to dwell on political issues in my work and my relationships with my students and clients. We can all agree that there were surprises in this election year and that many people feel apprehensive about the future. I prefer to address the difficult circumstances of the unpredicted phenomenon of changes in the political landscape from an energetic view rather than an ideological one.

For many years, I have taught, written, and lectured on what I call the Creation Laws commonly known as the laws of attraction.  I started this study in my early twenties and became fascinated with the concept of manifestation.  My study started simply with goal-boarding, visualization techniques, and focused attention.  I found the results often profound and amazing. The universe responded in ways that provided positive outcomes and clarity of meaning and direction. 

As I continued my study I realized that it wasn’t simply my thoughts or focused attention that was getting the results I envisioned but the associated feelings (which equates to vibrational) broadcasted about what I wanted to manifest.  This realization of the power of an emotional attitude and an intentional optimism has shaped my teachings on this topic for four decades.

We live in an attraction-based universe. If you desire something, you attract it to you.  If you are against something, you attract it to you. There is no repulsion, only attraction.  As a trained hypnotherapist, I have come to understand that the universe, and by extension your subconscious and unconscious, doesn’t comprehend negatives as a deletion or resistance to negativity but as an attractor. Hypnotherapists are versed in how to compose positive suggestions versus negative ones. For example, we would promote the thought that a client should desire to be healthy and smoke free, rather than thinking that he or she did NOT want to smoke anymore. This example may appear to embody a subtle difference but the results that might be manifest were significant and the modifications in behavior resulting from the positive approach were profound. Thinking that one did NOT want to smoke reinforced the undesired behavior, while the affirmative focus on being healthy energized positive motivations and a greater likelihood to manifest the desire. In an attraction-based universe there is no: no, not, don’t, can’t.  Since we are governed by the same attraction-based laws, our unconscious minds eliminate the words no, not, don’t and can’t. Repulsion or resistance creates more of the undesired outcomes.  You can’t create what you want by pushing against what you don’t want.  You will only create more of what you don’t want.

In all phases of my work I have received spiritual guidance and repeated successes in the application of positive energy vibrations to difficult situations. This was substantiated not only in my hypnosis work but, as years passed, through extensive teachings from the spirits about the Creation Laws or laws of attraction. Where negativity governs one’s thinking, doubt and resignation result. In the extreme condition, hopelessness and helplessness become the dominant forces in one’s life. Contrarily, when one chooses to focus on affirmative solutions and to imagine and feel favorable outcomes, there is alignment with an attraction-based universe and the cosmos suffuses our lives with positive energy that propels us to auspicious and constructive results. Whether negative or positive, we multiply the energies that we project and we manifest the outcomes according to how we feel.

This past election was probably one of the most toxic elections in United States history as well as the most blatant example of the laws of attraction at work. It was rather fascinating from an energetic standpoint.  We can all learn from this example when we acknowledge how these energies created the results.  Partisanship, distrust, and anger fueled the actions of candidates and their supporters. I am not proposing some false equivalency to suggest that there was no difference in the policies of the opponents or their behaviors, but I am suggesting that negativity was the dominant force at play in this long, tortuous process at the center of our democracy and many people were left with feelings of rage, anger, disappointment and anxiety. These caustic and toxic energies attracted greater pessimism and angst. This went on for 18 months. Negative energies will always create harm.  With a vibrational broadcast of despair, loathing, hatred, rage, anger, or fear a tragic world will manifest.  The vibrational matches for those emotions are manifestations of war, greed, poverty, crime, abuse, violence and disloyalty. 

This may seem dismal; however, I believe that we as a country and as individuals have the potential to learn from this and change.

Now we are at the crossroads to continue down the same path of negativity, pessimism and dismay or to envision and feel into a different future.  If you desire to have world peace, universal health care as everyone’s right, environmental awareness and alternative energy that does not damage our planet, peaceful cites, productive schools, equal opportunities and mutual respect, and happy children with bright futures, then we must be an energetic vibrational match for these desires.  Emitting vibrations from emotions such as joy, passion, enthusiasm, positive expression, optimism, hopefulness, appreciation and empowerment create a vibrational resonance that results in the manifestation of these matching desires

What will we promote in our lives, how will we address the future, and who will we become? We have before us a beautiful and uplifting opportunity. Like the phoenix arising from the ashes, we will choose our destiny, and in our alliance with the universe and our spiritual helpers we will manifest the world that we desire.

Our individual frequencies not only affect our immediate surroundings and ourselves but they affect the whole of humanity.  As the spirits emphasize, you are a powerful creator.  Everyone alters the universe by the energy that she or he emits. Collectively, we all contribute to the whole and individually we all make a difference.

Consider these energies and the outcomes that they might create:

Joy =    World peace                                                  Despair     = War

Passion               =     Health care                             Jealousy          = Greed

Enthusiasm =     Environmental awareness          Hatred/Rage   =   Poverty

Positive Expression =Alternative energy               Anger     =   Crime

Optimism   =     Peaceful cities                                 Unworthiness =   Abuse

Hopefulness   =     Peaceful schools                         Fear       =    Hunger

Appreciation   =    Equal opportunities                  Grief       =    Violence

Empowerment   =   Happy kids                               Depression       =    Disloyalty

Mother Teresa once said, “I will never attend an anti-war rally; if you have a peace rally, invite me.” Activism and creating change in the world needs to involve a new tactic. Being “anti” something is not the answer.  “Anti” energy is usually an angry, frustrated, fearful, or aggressive vibrational broadcast.  It might seem to make a difference for a moment, but the problem one attempted to solve will usually pop up in some other form. “Anti” energy doesn’t work according to the Creation Laws in an attraction-based universe.  If you want to be an activist, be an activist of the light.  Dream your new dream of reality and then be a match for it vibrationally by being enthused, motivated, excited, appreciative, passionate, and happy.  Spend time in altered reality envisioning your dream by engaging all your senses. Create it in the imagination with detail and then feel so excited about this creation that it easily is drawn to you through the power of the law.

This election was amazing and profound from an energetic perspective, especially watching how the Creation Laws prevailed in the most unpredictable ways.  There is no getting around them; they are law.  Because there was virtually no broadcast of being “for” something, all the “anti” energy accumulated manifesting in an unexpected and unpredicted outcome. These negative energies are so powerful that against all odds and even the popular vote, they will turn results toward whatever gets the most energy. If “anti” energy gets the most attention, it will prevail.

The universe is the ideal democracy where every energetic vote counts.  No one has more clout or power, everyone is treated equally and everyone’s energy broadcast contributes.

For greater clarity of some of the laws of the universe here is an excerpt from my book Becoming Yourself:

Change occurs when energy shifts. To understand change, one needs to understand the dynamics of energy. Everything emanates energy and frequencies of vibration—animate beings, physical objects, even thoughts and feelings—and these energy vibrational “fields” impact and alter all that they touch. If we are to have control over the changes in our lives, we must also understand the importance of thoughts, beliefs, ideas, and feelings as vibrational frequencies of energy. Only when we understand and can apply these basic Laws of the Universe will we be able to consciously affect the change process:

  1. Energy follows intention.
  2. Whatever you add energy to multiplies.
  3. Thought followed by word and action equals form.
  4. What you believe becomes.
  5. Vibrational frequencies attract like-minded frequencies.

These laws apply to all of life and are fundamental in understanding how to work with energy in order to create.

For example, when someone gets cut off in traffic and explodes in anger that explosion feeds a negative thought form proportional to the negative feeling being broadcast. When a person lets another driver into a line of traffic, there is a gentle wave of thanks.  This kind act feeds a positive thought form in proportion to the positive broadcast.  Unfortunately most people express negative responses with much more gusto than positive responses. 

Think of how you talked or responded to the news in the past eighteen months concerning the election.  Notice what you contributed, what you were against, or what you were for.  Then notice how much of your broadcast contributed to a positive feeling or a negative feeling.

The spirits have called us to declare what we stand for, not what we are against.  Be passionate and joy-filled as you envision and feel what you are for.  Talk about it, be excited about it, stay focused on it.  Let go of any grief, resentment, sadness, or worry.  These feelings will only prevent the outcome you desire. Pay attention to your words and feelings.  You make a difference and your energy contributes to the whole. There are only two choices—positive or negative. 

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Grief Ceremony

Shamanism and energy medicine are dynamic alternative approaches for wellness.  They employ techniques that encompass the mind, body and spirit—your whole being.  They view a person as an energy system or a soul that needs maintenance for optimum health and well-being.

Our energetic system was designed by the cosmos to operate perfectly and to be capable of constant regeneration, but in the context of three-dimensional reality and the exposure to toxic energies (not only in out environment but because of our thoughts) we often suffer from the misplacement or distortion of our energy fields in ways that cause us to suffer illness, depression, pain, and a host of other maladies. These negative forces require significant attention if we are to achieve a restoration of our perfect self.   Shamanism offers many modalities for healing, such as extraction, which is a common method used to eradicate lower frequencies.  However, in this article I am going to touch on the method of the Grief Ceremonies that are used in dealing with energies that extraction might not be able to expel.

Grief Ceremonies are a natural occurrence in some cultures and are performed
soon after a traumatic event has occurred. In some cultures if a person dies, the friends and family gather and grieve together.  This is often very vocal and physical. In the Dagara tribe of Burkina Faso West Africa, the ritual of grief might be conducted for several days as a way of releasing the tremendous amounts of stress caused by loss. The Dagaras cry and wail, often beating the ground with their fists. This may go on for 4 days. The ceremony also served to bring the community together in a supportive fashion and then to restore and reclaim vitality.  Once the ritual was complete there was closure to the grieving cycle and attention was refocused in a positive direction.

Indigenous people have practiced wellness of the soul for centuries.  In fact there is a group of African Spirits that I have learned to use in ceremony that eat grief.  They view grief as nectar and they are attracted to it and feed upon it.  When I first learned of these spirits and this relationship with humans, the idea of eating grief struck me as odd. But then as I sat with the information, I was reminded of our amazing relationship that we have with the plant and tree nations.  Our waste product of carbon dioxide is nectar or food for the plants and trees and their waste product is oxygen, which is essential for our life. I was reminded that the perfection of the cosmos also includes the spirit realms and, of course, it would be natural to have spirits that feed upon the energies of grief that we need to expel, to clear us of harmful perhaps deadly energies and to return positive healing energies.

Other examples of grief ceremonies include Israelis at the Western Wall (sometimes called the Wailing Wall) in Old Jerusalem, where prayers are offered to God and lamentations, howling, weeping, and crying take place publicly and without restraint.  Examples are also found in an Irish wake, Italian Catholic mourning, and traditional Eastern European ceremonies. I recently visited New Orleans and was reminded of the burial practice of playing dirges and weeping in route to the cemetery and playing joyful music in the march back. This Creole tradition is the perfect example of grief being expressed and released which the soul replaces with joy and celebration.

Grief rituals happen to help a person dig deep within and release the suppressed wounds, pains and suffering and to rid the body of harmful, toxic energies that can cause illness.  Expressing grief aloud and loudly, as well as through physical exertion, are natural ways to expel energy from the body.  Unfortunately these ceremonies are mostly forgotten in the Western world except where ancient tradition has sustained them.

Western culture generally loves to highlight joy, happiness, glee, and enthusiasm, but shuns expressions of grief as debilitating and a sign of weakness.  Even death rituals have been politely glossed over with positive affirmations of afterlife renewal. I am an advocate for positive attitudes, but sometimes in life, the sorrow is too great and the grief too severe to be ignored by an optimism that overlooks the residual energies of heartache that remains and tortures the soul.  A return to joy is the second step, not the first. If grief is suppressed it not only causes damage to the body but also to the mind and the emotions of the individual.  Often there is an inappropriate projection of anger towards others that is the result of suppressed grief.  When grief rituals are practiced there is a healthy avenue for the grief to be released and to allow the mourner to reconnect with people in a positive way.  It is not projected at someone or something else but expelled from the body in appropriate ways. Grief ceremonies are part of shamanic practice and, when used appropriately, can relieve current heartache and old wounds.  They can be used for individuals in private ceremony or they can be used in a supportive group expression.  Many times communities or groups of people are unified in their agony.  Bringing these groups together and preforming a grief ritual or ceremony can bring multiple healings, not only in the expulsion of the grief but also in fostering unification, collaboration and support. New directions and optimistic outcomes can be envisioned together.

I recently conducted a grief ceremony for the LightSong community. The following template can be used individually or with a group. 

  • I chose a location that felt safe and private.  No matter how willing or in need people may be about releasing their grief, there is still a reluctance or stage fright at being watched. 
  • I started the ceremony with the ground rule that we were finding an appropriate way to release grief, anger, rage, deep-seated sorrow, wounds, or pain without projecting these energies onto anyone. 
  • I asked the participants to bring supplies for two altars.  One altar would house the sacred beings to whom they would pray or honor.  These altars would line both sides of the room and literally hold space in their love for the process.  The other altar would be a grief altar.  They were to bring representations of their grief. We would burn this altar at the end of the ceremony.
  • I then created a threshold for the participants to step over into the grieving arena.  As they stepped over the threshold they were to ask the African Spirits that eat grief to come to them and to allow the deep feelings that were stuffed inside to surface.
  • We as a community would support their process with drums, rattles and sound.  However, we also would keep our eyes down and not watch their process.  This would give a sense of privacy. 
  • I had a punching bag for those that wanted a safe physical release and pillows on the floor for those that wanted to sit in front of the grief altar. 
  • I called in the spirits and said an invocation.  We as a group began to drum in a rhythmic, high energy way.  It was a loud and alluring dynamic energy. 
  • When felt called people would approach the threshold, pause, and then step over.  They began their release. Between the drums, rattles and other sounds in the room there was an odd juxtaposition of privacy and support.   The spirits seemed to know exactly how to stimulate deep release and unified support simultaneously.  People moved in and out of the grief circle throughout the evening.  Exhaustion set in.  The exhaustion was a result of a deep cleanse. Like a good cry, when you finally let “it out,” you feel cleansed and tired at the same time.
  • We decided to all cross the threshold one last time together, hold hands, arms around each other and do one last release together, unified and supportive of each other.
  • As a conclusion we took the grief altars out to our bon fire and watched them being engulfed in flames.  The fire was the great transmuter of energy in full power.  We sang songs together and talked—cleansed, renewed and ready to move forward in life in a healthy way.
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The Words Before All Else

Thanksgiving is such an incredible time. In the last couple of years the spirits have been adamant about their teaching around reverence, gratitude and appreciation, which of course is what real thanksgiving is all about.   The spirits say that these emotions and feelings are actually the gateway to: good mental heath, physical well being, emotional balance and spiritual connection.  How much of the day do you spend with these feelings?  To revere and appreciate the world around you, your teachers and co-workers, your family, friends, and yourself:  Such an incredible concept.  One that opens the heart, frees the mind, expands the body.  It illuminates the soul allowing for the wonder, mystery, excitement, and fullness of life to be exposed and appreciated.  Awe and it feels so good. 

I feel that instead of celebrating a day of Thanksgiving in the month of November, we should celebrate the month of November. Some indigenous elders feel that the reason that our life on this planet is so out of balance is because we only ask and don’t say “thank you” enough.  I share with you a prayer: A prayer of thanksgiving. It is very long, as it should be. Some of the thanksgiving prayers of our ancestors were actually four days long!  Can you imagine praying for four days straight?

The style of this prayer originated with the Iroquois people.  It came to me via an Iroquois elder, Jake Swamp, who passed it on to a wilderness school, Jon Young, where Deb Scrivens, a former associate teacher with LightSong, learned it and shared it with me.  At each stage it was modified and personalized. I personally have had a tremendous response from its energy.  People used it and revised it for their own personal use.  They used it for prayer each day or around the thanksgiving table. The purpose of this prayer is to remember that we are all divinely connected to all things.  We share the same planet and universe.  What one does – affects us all.  I invite you to pray like this, it has an amazing affect on your heart; it is full of reverence, gratitude and appreciation.  It heals through the power and energy of the words and how they in themselves affect the body, mind and soul.   

The format of this style of prayer is: Starting with self – and then reaching out around self – and out into the universe.

You can devise your own prayer, if you like, using this style, personalizing it to include your own family, friends, teachers, coworkers, and environment:  Actually inserting names into the sentences.  Use your imagination. 


I start with myself and extend out into the world that surrounds me.  I give great thanks for my health, my wellness and ability to greet each day with a smile and open heart. I give great thanks that I see well, feel well and can start each day by giving thanks.  I give great thanks that I love what I do for a living and I have the opportunity to make a difference each day in someone’s life.  I give great thanks that I smile more than I frown and laugh more than I cry.

I give great thanks for all of my students, the LightSong community, you, for your willingness to learn, to grow, to participate, and to challenge yourselves.  It is because of you that I get to live in “my original instruction, my song.” I learn from you and you amaze me daily. I give great thanks that you want to help people to heal, to have less pain, to have better lives and more happiness.  You are amazing people that I will love, respect, and remember always.

I give great thanks to my teachers.  Because of them my life is forever changed and enriched.  I owe everything to these incredible seekers.  I give respect, admiration, and heartfelt gratitude.

I send a greeting and give thanks for all the people in my life. I extend out away from me and my immediate loved ones and I look to this beautiful earth that I have the privilege to experience.

****** Deb Scrivens version:

I greet and send thanksgivings to my Mother the Earth, who has not forgotten her original instructions since the beginning of time. She has given of her life so that I may exist. She gives me all that I need. All that I have, have had, or will have has come from her.  With the sun and the water she supports all life. My bones are made of her bones, from the minerals that come from her, and my flesh comes from her. She supports me in every step.  She supported me before I could walk, when I crawled upon her. She will hold and cradle me inside of her when I walk no more.  I marvel in her beauty, I marvel in her diversity, I marvel in her power.  I strive to understand something so magnificent, so complex, and so forgiving.  I respect her and wish to acknowledge her throughout every moment.  Without her I would not be. So I give thanks for my Mother the Earth, and I express my love and gratitude for her.


I send thanksgivings and greetings to the Waters of the Earth, and all those beings that dwell in the Water, for they too have not forgotten their original instructions from the creator of all life. For all these waters remember their cycles and give continuously to us all. The rain that falls is recycled from sweat and tears, baptisms and swimming pools linking us all into the magical wonder of the water cycle.  No life can exist without water, and our planet is a water planet.  Our bodies are made mostly of water.  So I send thanks to all the forms of water on the planet: from the polar ice caps to the frozen glaciers to the cold rushing mountain streams.  From the peaceful lakes to the estuaries and bays to the pounding seashore with its mighty surf and tides.  I send thanksgiving greetings to the great oceans that blanket our planet, to the deepest abyss of the oceans, and the mysterious chasms where dwell undiscovered forms of life.

And I give thanks for all the living things that dwell in the Waters, in their great variety of color and form, from the caddis fly in the mountain stream to the great whales in the sea.  I call to mind the myriad of creatures that live in the water and that provide me with beauty and wonder at the world; the starfish and the salmon, the seals and the tropical fishes, the coral reefs.  I give great thanks to the Waters of the world for supporting all life and to the great variety of life in the Waters, and for all that it means to me. I give thanks for the dolphins that greeted me in the open seas off the coast of Belize.  The experience of sonar pulsing through me taught me so much of these great ones that live in the water. I am thankful that my son was able to reach out and touch one of these magnificent creatures and was able to participate in this awesome event. I am thankful for that special and personal experience.


And now I turn my thoughts to the low growing things and the plants that blanket the Earth, and the small forms of life that creeps and crawls in and under the plants.  I send greetings and thanksgiving to all the small living things that help plants grow, and refresh and recycle the Earth.  Frogs, snakes, ants, worms, beetles and honeybees; each have remembered its original instructions since the beginning of time.   

And I give thanks for the Plants.  In its great variety of color and form, the Plant Nation provides us with beauty and food and medicine and shelter and clothing, and with air to breathe.  I give thanks for the tall grasses that blow in the wind and give us grain; I give thanks for the grass that gently covers the graves of our dead and rolls in luscious landscapes on the sides of hills.  I give thanks for the berries and the many plants that provide us with food.  I give thanks for the medicine plants, the herbs and for the healing that they provide. For they too have not forgotten their original instructions for there are many members of this incredible Nation that sustain those who walk upon this Earth and there are many others who continue to fulfill their duties to take away the sicknesses of the human family. I give thanks to the plants that hold the Earth in place and keep the Waters clean and clear, so that the living things in the Waters may thrive.


And now I lift my eyes a little higher and notice the four-legged ones that move among the plants, and I send a thanksgiving greeting to the Animal Nation.  I send a greeting to the Animals, in their great variety of color and form, and I call to mind the elephant and the horse, the wolf and the great cats of Africa, the buffalo, tiger, deer, raccoon and the red fox. 

I send thanks to the Animals for they provide us with so much.  They give themselves to us for food and clothing. They lend us their power.  In their grace and beauty and naturalness, they teach us by example.  They are our older brothers and sisters, and we can learn everything we need to know by observing them.  The tracks they leave on the ground disappear into the forest, and our minds turn to their hidden and mysterious lives.

Our hearts draw close to them as we think of the animals that live in our homes and share our lives, and of the love that they give to us so freely. 

I say a special prayer for all the animals that are lost or lonely or cold or frightened or injured, and for any that suffer abuse at the hands of people.  To these I send my heartfelt love and compassion and I am thankful that they have never turned against us.  For without the Animals, we would experience a great loneliness of spirit.  For their love and companionship and for all that they give us, I send thanks and greetings to the Animals.


Lifting my eyes higher still, I see green leaves against blue sky, and boughs waving in the wind.  I send my thanksgiving greetings to the Standing (Tree) People.  Their roots go into the Earth beneath us, their branches stretch into the sky above us.  Connecting Earth and Sky, they are our older brothers and sisters and our teachers. 

Some of them are very, very old, and they remember and remind us of the ages of the Earth.  In their rings they record the coming of the flood and the drought.  Many tribes of trees around the world make the mighty forests, and they carpet the earth with their canopies.  The forests of trees give the plants and animals shelter and homes.  The trees give the birds a place to rest their feet and to raise their young. 

The trees also shelter us and keep us warm.  We need look no farther than the walls of our houses to understand what the trees give to us, for they give their bones to make our homes, and to make the fire in our hearths.  They give us food and fruit and shade on a hot day, and beauty and comfort and air, and the gentle sound of leaves rustling in a soft wind.  And so we give heartfelt thanks and send greetings to the Trees.

I give thanks to those that protect the trees, the lungs of our Earth.  I give thanks to those in South America that strive and fight for the rain forests.  If the rain forests die so shall we.


High in the trees, I hear music; the gentle sound of silvery bells in the branches, and from the river comes the sound of a silver flute.  The sounds come from the throats of the birds, and I lift my eyes to the skies and see Winged Ones and I hear them singing.  In their great variety of color and form, the Bird Nation brings great beauty to the world, and the wonder of flight.  It is said the birds were put on Earth to lighten the hearts of the people and lift them from their heavy thoughts, and every time we lift our eyes and listen to the thanksgiving song of a bird, this is so. 

There is a line on the Earth, where the darkness meets the light, a line we call Dawn.  At this line the birds sing together in a chorus of thanksgiving, and this line of song travels around the Earth.  So always, somewhere, the thanksgiving song of the birds radiates from the Earth into outer space, all the time.  For dawn is always happening somewhere.

I give thanks that the birds greet the Sun with song.  I give thanks for the raucous call of the jay and the raven and the piercing call of the eagle and the hawk, and for the lovely songs of the thrush and the lark and the wren.  I give thanks for the mysterious sounds of the owl at night. I give thanks and send greetings to the birds.


Under the wings of the birds flow the Winds, and now I turn my mind to the Four Winds that blow from each direction and carry the rain to the Earth.  I send a thanksgiving greeting to the Winds, for they cleanse the Earth and carry the Weather Spirits and the ThunderBeings upon their backs.  I send a thanksgiving greeting to the ThunderBeings, who harness the mighty power of the storm.  The ThunderBeings have the power to teach humility to every single person on the earth, as we witness the magnificent and awesome power of the mighty storms.  And so I send my humble thanksgiving and greetings to the Four Winds and to the ThunderBeings: those that give life and also take it away. 


Turning my face higher still, I see a silver face looking back at me from above, and I recognize my Grandmother the Moon.  I send greetings and give thanks to my Grandmother the Moon, for she holds hands with all the women of the Earth.  She tugs on the seeds and she tugs on the tides and she tugs on the rhythms in our bodies.  Perhaps we learned to count beyond the number of our fingers and our toes, long ago when our species was young, by sitting at her knee and noticing her changes.  She gives us silver light at night that helps us to see in a special way and she bathes the world in silver light and makes it beautiful.  And so I send greetings and thanks to my Grandmother the Moon and that she too has not forgotten her original instructions.


And now I turn my mind to our oldest brother the Sun.  The Sun.  Our star. He provides all of the warmth and energy for our life. The Sun is the great engine that powers all of the life on our planet.  We shut our eyes and turn our faces to the warm, golden light of the sun, and feel his warm kiss on our cheek. We exist in a narrow band of temperatures, and the sun provides for us perfectly, not too hot and not too cold.  With a single flare or shift the sun could extinguish all life on Earth or freeze it into solid stillness, but that has never happened, and we are perfectly provided for with just the right amount of warmth.  For endless ages the Earth has danced with the Sun, and he holds her in a warm and perfect embrace.  And so I give great thanks to our Eldest Brother the Sun, for him remembering his original instruction and for the life he provides for us.

Turning my attention beyond the sun, I see many suns, millions and billions of stars, and I send a greeting and thanks to the Star Nation. The galaxies stretch the limits of the human imagination, for they are unimaginably old.  The matter that is in our bodies may once have been in a star that burned out long ago and changed form, as the universe endlessly cycled.  And so we wonder at our kinship with the stars…we are stardust walking.  We look at the stars in great wonder.  And we give great thanks for the beauty of the night sky.


And now I turn my attention to the Unseen, to the Spirits of the Four Directions, and the many spirits that protect us and guide our steps and help us in our lives.  It is said we each have 405 loving spirits surrounding us at any moment.  We acknowledge that we cannot survive without their loving protection.  They guide us and we feel them in many ways.  They whisper into the ears of our heart, and they show the eyes of our heart things of great beauty.  They guide our steps so that we do not stumble.  We are thankful for their protection and guidance and compassion.  We are thankful that they love and care for us.  And so we express our heartfelt gratitude to the spirits, and for the Wakan (sacred) in our lives.


Finally I turn my mind to that which is beyond the human imagination, the Creator of All Things that existed before time began and which will exist beyond the end of Time.  I turn my mind toward the Mysterious Force that we cannot understand or imagine… The God, Great Spirit, Great Mystery, the Alpha and the Omega, Essence, Source, Word.  We can only turn our faces toward this Light and say Thank You.  Thank you giving us all that we need.  Thank you for our lives.  Thank You for This Life.  Thank You.


And now, keeping my heart in touch with the Infinite and at the same time pulling my attention into the center of my heart, I look forward into the Future and I look over my shoulder back into the Past.  And stretching seven generations forward I see the descendents of the human race, and stretching seven generations into the past I see our ancestors.  And our ancestors still care for us and our descendents depend on us.  They depend on us to keep them in mind when we make choices at this moment in time, the Perfect Present, for they are coming, and they will depend on what we do Now.  And our hearts are connected to the hearts of our children and their descendents, forward into the future, and connected to the hearts of our ancestors, backward into the past, an unbroken chain of humanity, connecting like a thread, heart to heart to heart to heart….  And so I send a greeting and a prayer of thanks to the unbroken chain of the human race.


It has been my intention to greet and send thanks to Everything, but I am a two-legged learning to be a Human Being, and so it is not possible for my mind to know of or remember Everything.  So now I send a greeting and thanks to everything that I have left out, and ask you to please remember that I did not leave you out intentionally.  I have done my humble best to bring my mind together with All Things, and now my mind is One.  Mitakuye Oyasin. (All my relations, I am related to all things.) 

I ask myself have I forgotten my original instructions? In truth yes, for I am human and I struggle with ego and mind, but when I let myself be lead by my heart into the area of thanksgiving, (reverence, gratitude, appreciation) and pure joy, I feel that I am closer to my original instruction.

I give thanks to you, my dearests of relationship, for you have touched my life, you have a cord to my heart and soul.  Since we have met our souls will remember each other through lifetime and lifetime.  The meeting of souls is a sacred thing, for all is in divine order.  I give great thanks for our meeting and our continued exchange.  Smile and have great joy during this holiday season and always.

With great thankfulness, appreciation and love,

Jan Engels-Smith

Thanksgiving address: a version, adapted from our indigenous forefathers, the prayer given by Chief Jake Swamp, and wilderness awareness school. Put so poetically together by: Deb Scrivens, former associate teacher LightSong School of 21st Century Shamanism and Energy Medicine.

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