A Place to Belong: Thriving Shamanic Communities in Action
Due to an outpouring of interest in community development I have decided to write on this subject again. Please refer to my last article Create a Healthy Community for more information.
The evolution of spirituality in the modern world has led to significant efforts in personal development. This personal development will boost the creation of thriving shamanic communities, which will then greatly enhance the impact of these individual efforts. These communities hold the potential and pre-create microcosms of a future spiritual society, a society where everyone is essential and honored, and the individual’s contribution to the whole is seen as a valuable asset. Personal development can lead to healthy communities, which creates a healthier world.
The community I founded is called LightSong. LightSong is also a school, LightSong School of 21st Century Shamanism and Energy Medicine, and a healing center. All three expressions of LightSong have been successful in their individual expressions because at their foundation is our realization and recognition of the basic needs of humans. Basic needs that create emotional thriving stem from the feelings of love and value or to feel significant. The acts and words of love feed the soul in a way that is unmatched by any other effort we might make. A healthy community offers the opportunity in its functionality for mutual acceptance, inclusion, recognition, and appreciation. By these acts, individual’s emotions and spirit are enhanced and their value reinforced. In these ways the community makes the commitment to consistently and constantly reinforce the common positive energy of belonging.
I have found in my work as a Licensed Professional Counselor, shamanic practitioner and energy worker that you can either contribute positive or negative energy to any situation. This contribution will have a direct effect on the situation manifesting either a positive or negative outcome. There are only two choices. Of course there is a vast array of subtle variations to the spectrum of positive or negative energy; however, each variation can be identified in one category or the other—positive or negative. What you choose will create a corresponding outcome.
A Cherokee Legend: Two Wolves
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil—he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good—he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you and inside every other person, too. “The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?” The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
This is the way energy works and this holds the key for the creation of healthy individuals, healthy communities and a healthy world.
As spiritual beings, we often pursue individual development and growth with the desire to attain actualization through the understanding of connection to source and unconditional love. What we seek as individuals reflects, in many ways, our desire for community. We look for inclusion, acceptance, appreciation, gratitude, and ultimately love. The acts of personal development often employ a need for engagement with others where we can learn from others’ experiences and understanding and where we might benefit from sharing. Human beings coming together can generate greater possibilities than all acting alone. Community is an expansive experience. Much is to be gained from individual experiences but mutually shared enlightenment can compound the effects both on our singular person and in the wider world.
Most often, people come to LightSong seeking spiritual connection, acceptance, a place to belong, a place to practice shamanic techniques (which sometimes can feel isolating), and an environment where they feel the presence of like-minded individuals.
I attribute LightSong’s success as a healthy thriving community to certain qualities that were established at the heart of our community’s infrastructure and to which we all adhere:
- A commitment to show great respect to others.
- A stated non-competition agreement.
- A by-law of no gossip.
- Moral role modeling from those in leadership positions.
Since LightSong is a shamanic community we base our activities on shamanic practices and incorporating spirit into everyday life. In the design of a spiritual community, spirit must be present in the foundation. People usually join our spiritual community through shamanic classes and training. As soon as they walk through the door in a Basic Level 1 Through the Rabbit Hole journey class they are personally welcomed, accepted, and honored. We also strive to broaden people’s awareness of themselves. We immediately do a series of journeys asking the spirits the question “Who am I?” The individual takes an assessment of himself or herself not from a physical measure but from a spiritual measure. This opens a door for information to inform a person of the gifts, talents, and positive attributes that he or she might never have considered or recognized. This simple act might offer a major transformation in one’s perception of self in outstanding and beautiful ways. This is all part of not just learning but thriving and growing. Important to sustaining this experience at LightSong is a mutually held spirit of resolve and perpetual attention to the value of life, the exquisite nature of being human and the diversity of learning that other lifetimes present.
There are many opportunities for individuals to thrive in the LightSong community, but one of the more significant experiences is our shamanic practicum workshop. This immersion in community and shamanic practice requires a commitment of time and energy but the results can be momentous. The workshop is entitled Telepathic Communication and participants practice shamanic principals through practical application. We live together in nature communally for a week. Tents are pitched in a common living area and food is prepared and shared in common. Everyone contributes to the physical maintenance of the community and as many as a hundred people might participate at one time. The goal is to demonstrate and practice the art of telepathic communication. Telepathy is the foundation of shamanic communication between spirits. Since everything has a spirit form, including humans, telepathy is used in everything from journeying to taking a walk in nature. Participants discover that telepathy is natural and happening constantly and continually. Using the template of the vision quest, we design the community practicum to provide some distinctive markers to learn about this major form of spirit communication. Certain individuals do a vision quest where they go without food and water for four nights and five days. In a spot they have chosen, questers live with very few comforts, exposed to the elements without a tent, with minimal amounts of clothing, and confined to a relatively small space. For many people, this setting offers the greatest opportunity they have known for personal reflection, prayer, meditation and an occasion for communing with the spirits that surround all of us.
The community in camp learns to telepathically take care of these individuals’ basic needs of hunger, thirst, warmth and physical pain. The community also learns to live in complete harmony with each other and nature. The community shares and receives direct feedback on what is happening in camp and what is being telepathically transmitted to the questers. Persons in camp can telepathically send a quester the feeling of fullness after a meal or the sense of quenched thirst or a simple feeling of comfort. These physical and emotional feelings are sent to the questers with conscious intention. When the questers share their experience of what happened to them during story telling at the end of the quest, the community hears that their efforts were successful and that the questers did actually receive what was sent to them. We then highlight that this is the way energy works around the world. That you don’t need to be on the front lines of a crisis in order to help in the crisis. Telepathic communication knows no boundaries. In other words we can and do make a difference no matter the proximity in the world.
As a community we can create a microcosm of a perfect world where we are taking care of each other through conscious attention to our own actions and feelings. When self-aware individuals come together in community, they can compound the impact they have on the world and the universe. Individually, we can do much, but in community the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, thus there is a immeasurable amount of good feeling and positive effects that are generated and projected out into the world from the community.
The events of the practicum are transformative for both the questers and their supporters. Year after year, the shared stories of spiritual events in this week speak to the power of a community connected by spirit and mutual support. Many individuals have found this to be one of the more profound experiences of their lives. People realize that they can make a difference in someone else’s life by the positive attitude they choose to project. The realization of personal responsibility is highlighted where people realize how they respond or the emotions they project out into the world effect the world and everything of the world. This of course works in both directions either positively or negatively.
Community is more than a gathering of people. Community is a feeling of fellowship and connection that is drawn from shared beliefs and common commitment. Community is the central design of a civilization and a universe that exists to fulfill the natural purpose of existence—a wholly unified and perfect cosmos.