Constructing Your Shamanic Dream Team
By Jan Engels-Smith
Art by Margie McMahan
It has long been know that shamans work with spiritual allies. The belief is that these allies are what give the shaman his or her power for healing and miraculous results in moving energy. The allies are intimate companions of the shaman. These allies are honored with offerings of food, flowers, tobacco and other gifts as an expression of respect and appreciation and to establish a strong relationship that creates a strong bond between the shaman and these accommodating allies.
The most common shamanic allies are power animals and spiritual teachers. (For more information on this subject see my previous article titled the “Mystery and Magic of Power Animals.”) In this article I will expand on the use of allies in shamanic work and refer to very specific usages of allies for everyday living.
There are three worlds (upper, lower, and middle) in which a shaman typically journeys in an altered state of reality. The allies found in these worlds often vary in form and nature. In the style of shamanism that I teach, the upper and lower world allies are benevolent and these two particular worlds are havens of compassion and generosity. These worlds and the information obtained from allies in these places can be confidently assumed to be safe and loving. You can trust the information will be of the highest good. However, the middle world in which we live is very different and one can expect to find conditions that are not always conducive to easy support and benevolence. In this world there is a range of diverse good and evil and indifferent conditions that may or may not provide the spiritual sustenance that we are assured of in the upper and lower worlds. We as humans can not trust that every individual we encounter will act for our highest good or well being; thus, we have different needs to consider for our safety in our daily existence.
Much of what I will discuss was learned from Betsy Bergstrom, a friend and colleague of mine and an incredible shamanic practitioner.
There are four major allies in the middle world that can work to assist you in your immediate reality, although their origins can be traced to the upper or lower worlds. When journeys are done to obtain these allies the intention of the journey is that these beloved friends will work for your care in the middle world. The protection and gifts they bestow are immeasurable and I will refer to these four as the “dream team.” Whether you are a shamanic practitioner or not, you can call on this team for assistance. Once you have established a strong relationship with them, you can use this team throughout your life.
The first member of the dream team is the body protector. The body protector’s job is to protect you and your possessions. This protection is available to you in any situation in which you may be involved in your daily life—driving your car, getting onto a plane, walking into a crowded room or in any place or at any time you feel that you need protection. The process of using this ally involves the ally merging with you and embodying you with their protective properties. This predetermined combining of energies is mutually understood between you and your body protector and is part of the intention that is set in the initial communication between the two of you. A typical intention might be, “I am asking for a compassionate, loving spiritual ally to come to me from either the upper or lower worlds that will be my body protector in the middle world. This ally will merge with me and take care of me upon request. This ally will stay with me and become part of my non-physical team that is compassionate to my needs as a human living in this unstable dualistic realty.”
Typically, a shamanic journey is done to meet this trusted ally. If a person is not adept at journeying, guided imagery or meditation can also be used. Once the ally appears, the participant would ask, “Will you be my body protector protecting not only my physical body but also all my possessions?” An agreement, a spiritual contract, is reached and the ally takes on the role of protector. This ally may be present in the middle world but because he originates in the upper or lower world, he can be trusted to meet the expectations of the contract. These spiritual allies don’t lie or make false promises. This journey, guided imagery, or meditation will envision the participant and the ally merging, and the powerful energy of the ally becomes a protective force in the human. Often there is a noticeable sensation that takes place within the participant that recognizes this joining of life forces. The participant can then refer to the ally as my body protector. The form the ally has is in the spirit realm, such as a bear, eagle, native elder, etc., will dissolve in the merging. Although there are many sources one may draw on for this protector, the body protector becomes present in the middle world and immediately accessible for support.
The second ally is a gatekeeper. Gatekeepers have been identified throughout history in many cultures and are often present in mythological stories. One of my favorite examples of a gatekeeper is from Norse mythology and is depicted in the recent film Thor. Heimdall is the gatekeeper standing on the rainbow bridge and denying access into the city to any unauthorized beings. Gatekeepers are all seeing and all knowing and have exceptional authority and powers. Another use of the gatekeeper in spiritual practice is to serve to regulate energy that might impact us. We are exposed to all kinds of frequencies of energetic vibrations in our daily life. Some of these frequencies are good for us and others may be seriously harmful. The gatekeeper’s job is to distinguish among these energies and only allow energies for our well being to enter into our energetic fields. Even good energies can come through too intensely and cause discomfort and the gatekeeper serves to regulate the intensity of the energy that affects us so that it might serve our greater benefit. For example, those of us that practice merging with great forces for empowerment sometimes have trouble handling the intensity of some of the powers with which we seek to merge. Training the body to hold higher frequencies of energy is part of the development that is needed for energy medicine or shamanic practitioners. The power of these energies is often not taken into account by those practicing or dabbling in energy medicine protocols and the person can feel exhausted or “blown out of the water” from an experience. My allies jokingly used the analogy of one who has a 120 circuit being plugged into a 240 outlet. Imagine your hair standing straight up and feeling blown apart.
Being around people or energies that are too chaotic may create difficult energy fields. I have difficulty going to public places such as mall where the combination of noise, overstimulation in advertising displays, and the frenetic energy of shoppers often will leave me headachy, tense, and out-of-sorts. My gatekeeper’s job in this environment is to dial me down—closing down my chakras so I don’t absorb the chaotic energies into my system. Your personal gatekeeper has a full-time job given the nature of our hectic lives.
The procedure for meeting your gatekeeper is the same as that described for the body protector—state your intention clearly and create a positive relationship. A typical intention might be, “I am asking for a compassionate, loving spiritual ally from either the upper or lower worlds to come to me that will be my gatekeeper in the middle world. This ally will merge with me and take care of me upon request. This ally will stay with me and become part of my non-physical team that is compassionate to my needs as a human living in such an unstable dualistic realty.” Once the ally appears the participant should ask, “Will you be my gatekeeper, performing all the various roles for which a gatekeeper is responsible?” An agreement, the spiritual contract, is agreed on and the ally takes on that role. Again, since this ally is usually from the upper or lower world the participant can trust this contract and trust that these spiritual allies don’t lie or make false promises. Also, in this journey, guided imagery, or meditation, the participant allows the energy of the ally to join or merge with him or her. Often, as with the protector, there is a noticeable feeling that takes place within the participant that reinforces this joining of life forces. The participant can then refer to the ally as My Gatekeeper.
The third ally is the Angel of Neutrality. This ally comes from the angelic realm and has the role of alleviating judgment. That role alone can be a full-time job with humans! Some people feel that the angelic realm is part of the upper world; however, I do not. I see it as a separate realm that holds a group of beings—angels—that have various jobs and abilities. Most of these great beings are dedicated to humans and to their well being, protection, and evolution.
A great shamanic or energy medicine practitioner will have the gift of envisioning health, well being, or divinity in the person with whom they are working. If this is difficult for you, the practice of using an angel of neutrality can be extremely beneficial. This non-judging ability can create miraculous things in a healing session. If we all practiced this way of looking at others we would miraculously change the world and the human condition. The Angel of Neutrality keeps us neutral, not judging good or bad but allowing, accepting and unconditionally loving each event or person that we encounter. Energetically a judgment alters that which we judge, just as in quantum physics the observer alters the results of an experiment. The practice of non-judgment or neutrality has tremendous benefits for us all.
The procedure for meeting your Angel of Neutrality is the same as that described for the previous two allies but with a different intention. A typical intention might be, “I am asking for a compassionate, loving Angel of Neutrality to work and join with me in the middle world. This angel will merge with me and take care of me upon request. This angel will stay with me and become part of my non-physical team that is compassionate to my needs as a human living in such an unstable dualistic realty.” Once the angel appears the participant would ask, “Will you be my Angel of Neutrality helping me to stay neutral and non judging?” An agreement, the spiritual contract, is reached and the Angel of Neutrality takes on that role. Since this angel is from the angelic realm and the angels in general are here to help humans, the participant can trust this contract. Also, in this journey, guided imagery, or meditation the participant allows the energy of the Angel of Neutrality to join or merge with him or her. Often there is a noticeable feeling that takes place within the participant that reinforces this joining of life forces. The participant can then refer to the ally as my Angel of Neutrality.
The fourth and final ally of the dream team is your true self. The true self is the part of you that is unwounded and unwoundable. The true self is divine. Technically speaking if you lived always in your true self you would have no need for any of the other three allies. You are unwoundable, so there is no need for protection; you are divine, so chaotic energies would have no effect so there would be no need for a gatekeeper; and the true self carries no judgment, so there would be no need for an angel of neutrality. Your wounds make you vulnerable, expose you to negative energies, and create the judgments that you hold. The true self is the part of you that lives in an actualized state of your full potential. Unfortunately, this part of you is the part that is the most buried and unavailable throughout your life. The understanding of this self merits possibly a lifetime of understanding and practicing; however, he or she is part of your dream team and if recognized through practice and spiritual development has the potential to bring you closer to your own divinity in a subtle but potent way.
Ask for your true self to appear. Envision your perfect self. Perfect body, mind, personality, persona; all the traits you wish you embodied. The only stipulation is that this being needs to be YOU, not the Christ, the Buddha, or some other revered master. Ask to merge with this version of you and feel what if feels like to become yourself.
The practice of merging with this dream team daily or even several times through daily repetition will have amazing effects on your consciousness. You will be using the gifts of non-ordinary reality in your ordinary world. The blending of these two realities is part of the New Earth, the new reality that I envision our future to be. Empowered, loving, unlimited humans enjoying life to the fullest.