Cutting the Cords of Negative Energy

Cutting the Cords of Negative Energy by Jan Engels-Smith

Human beings are primarily energy systems having a human experience.  Our energy systems are complex and reach far out of the body surrounding the body in fields of energy. These fields can be called auras, subtle body fields, or electromagnetic fields depending on which discipline you follow: metaphysics or science.  These fields of energy can extend out several feet from the body. There are also energy fields inside the body, which are called chakras.  Chakras are more like broadcasting towers and actually feed the subtle body fields around us.

My point in describing this is to help readers understand that energy is the predominate part of our make up and is a major component of our emotional stability, mental clarity, and spiritual awareness.

Our energy is not static but is extremely fluid.  It can be lost, hijacked, contaminated, or stolen.  It can also be refueled, ignited, heightened, attuned and returned.  Maintaining our energy fields and energy system is a major component of good health.  Unfortunately most people are unaware of this need and go through most of their life not sustaining or performing maintenance on their energy system.  The outcome from this lack of attention can present in emotional instability or complications, mental cloudiness or obsessive thinking, and spiritual stagnation.  In fact, all illness is caused by faulty energy frequencies in the body.

The emphasis is this article is on the “cording” of energy.   Every event that you encounter or interaction that you have results in a connection of your energy with this external experience.  These “cords” create the synergistic interchange that both affects the experience and, in response, alters your own being. The result may be minor (although cumulatively significant) or majorly impactful. For example, your memories are a result of the energy interaction you are experiencing with your environment.  Your memory is a result of synapses in the brain (energy currents) bringing a recall into focus.  Metaphysically, we can understand the cords are being “read” and a vague memory may achieve clarity—even into all of our other lifetimes. These connections may be very positive in providing constructive and useful benefits, but there are dangers as well. In the myriad of experiences in our current life combined with the incidents from many past lives, we can become severely entangled in cords, which can present in multiple ways.  We may not be able to let go of lost loves, wounds, or haunting memories. We have all experienced the mental conversation with ourselves after a difficult conversation where we imagine what we wish we had said and even, at times, invent a new conversation and believe a new truth that differs from what actually happened. This is an example of cords being energetically activated to keep this situation alive and present in our psyche.  These energetic connections can affect a person’s heart rate, pulse, and temperate as well as create an extreme emotional state, such as experiencing anger while remembering an uncomfortable incident. The incident may have happened years previously, but we still respond because the energy is still contained in our long-distance connection. Needless to say, these counterproductive cords can be very destructive for the individual and need to be disengaged or cut in order to find peace and wellbeing.

Cord cutting is part of the maintenance of the energy system.  Not all cords are negative or binding in nature.  Some cords are part of our energy imprint of our soul’s evolution through space and time. Children often cord with their parents and parents with their children.  If a situation feels unfamiliar or possibly scary, a young child will step between a parent’s legs.  Energetically a cord is coming from the root chakra of the parent that feels nurturing to the child, energetically informing him that he is safe. However, a negative entanglement may only be resolved by performing a cord cutting. In this act, intention will always be a key factor in finding the correct cords to cut.

Cords usually are connected to energy centers or chakras in the body. The presence of the cord in connection with a particular chakra will determine the emotional component of the cord.  Each chakra exchanges particular energy with our physical, emotional, and spiritual environment—such as love relationships in the heart chakra, loss of power in the solar plexus, or not feeling worthy in the root.  However, since no event is usually singular there can be many cords connecting for various reasons throughout an energy system. Fatigue or exhaustion, guilt, obsessive thinking, not being able to let go of an issue or person, or prolonged grief are a few examples of symptoms of needing a cord cutting.  In my personal view, one could do cord cuttings daily to relieve anxieties and to strip away unhealthy thoughts, just as one might take a daily shower to enter the day fresh and energized. Of course some cord cuttings require more extensive attention and effort.

There are many different methods that can be used in cord cutting. In my personal healing sessions with clients, I always incorporate a very specialized cord cutting—one that the spirits taught me and is very ceremonial in nature. This ritualistic severing of the cord can also be used to restore lost soul pieces.  Many of my clients have experienced amazing results where difficult issues fade away out of the conscious mind and even sometimes out of the memory.  I myself experienced this after I did a session on myself.  My father was a main perpetrator in my life and it seems most of my healing work for myself was about him.  Workshops, private sessions, readings, and self help classes I participated in always seemed to surface him as the source of pain that required my healing.  When the spirits taught me this particular cord cutting, I performed a full session on myself employing all of the ceremony and ritual that I would use for a client.   A few months later I was attending a healing training seminar with a friend and we were to bring up an event that had created an energetic wound.  My friend leaned over and whispered in my ear, “Are you going to work on your dad?”  Since at that moment he was the farthest thought from my mind, I then realized how effectively that ceremony had worked.  I could barely remember my issues with him; they were gone.   I had been truly freed.

In the case of cord cutting concerning family members or loved ones that you are still very involved with, please realize that the intention of cord cutting will remove the difficult situations not the person from your life.  It is always good practice to keep your most precious relationships clear of negative cords; this keeps the relationship healthy and vital.

I can not fully describe the previously mentioned ceremonial cord cutting in this brief article because I can’t explain its contents without readers being fully trained in shamanic energy medicine techniques; however, I can share a ceremony that is profound and I use in workshops with my students.  It is important to remember that it is your birthright to be happy, vital, joyful and sovereign.  Many people are not in those states of well-being because energetically they haven’t been taken care of or learned how to care for themselves as adults.  But happiness and well-being are the natural conditions of life.  Cutting cords and performing energetic clean up is natural and necessary.  Nature does it automatically and naturally.

My favorite example of this is from The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.  Tolle shares his observation that after two ducks get into a fight they separate and float off in opposite directions. Then they each flap their wings vigorously a few times to get rid of the surplus energy that built up during the fight. After flapping their wings they float on peacefully, as if nothing had happened. Dogs shake, ducks flap, and cords are cut automatically.  Humans seem to have lost this natural release function as the ego developed and ruled.  Now we need to incorporate ritual to obtain the same outcome.

Here is a basic technique:

  • State your intention to envision the cords that are binding you to your unhappiness.  You can change the intention with whichever words feel more fitting, i.e.  “My intention is to cut all the cords that are negatively binding me to unemployment.”  or “ My intention is to cut all the cords that are negatively binding me to unhappiness with my spouse.”
  • Envision yourself sitting in nature in a beautiful place.  The sun is shining and you feel safe, peaceful and full of grace.
    A bright light appears and you realize that this light is creator, source or the divine.  It shines brightly on you and illuminates your chakras.
  • Starting at your feet, ask to see the cords that are coming off your foot that are binding you to your unhappiness.  Once the cord appears in your imagination follow it out and see what or who is attached to it. (This could be this lifetime or any other lifetime; don’t try to control this with what you know.)
  • Once the person, place or thing appears, envision that you are holding a great sword, laser, or some sort of cutting device.
    State: “With the power of love and the empowerment of Source within me I cut this cord and I am free.”
  • At that moment cut the cord off of yourself and then make a second cut to remove the cord from whoever or whatever is attached to it.  Actually move your arm through space in a cutting motion.
  • The cord will fall to the ground and who or what it was attached to will float off untethered from the cord.
  • Go through each chakra: root, adnominal, solar plexus, heart, throat, third eye and crown.  You can also do your shoulders and hands before the crown.  The crown is always last.
  • Once this is complete ask the light of source to fill you completely.  Envision this and your true self appearing. Your true self is yourself that has no harm, wounds, or disappointments.  It is the version of you that is your perfect self.  Ask this true self to come and merge with you and source.  Once this happens the cord cutting is complete.
  • Envision yourself in this merged state gathering up the cords and envision a sacred fire burning.  Burn the cords in the fire.  Once the cords are burned, state, “It is finished” three times.  Say “Thank you” and come out of the visualization.

The power to be free lies within each of us and only requires a personal decision to accept the perfection of our true self in a perfect universe.

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The Words Before All Else

The Words Before All Else: A Thanksgiving Address

The Words Before All Else


In honor of a LightSong tradition I offer this article again. Reprinted by popular demand!

I feel that instead of celebrating a day of Thanksgiving in the month of November, we should celebrate the month of November dedicated to Thanksgiving. 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 saying Thank You: A prayer of Thanksgiving.

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, an associate teacher with LightSong, learned it and shared it with me. At each stage it was modified and personalized. I have had a tremendous response from its energy. People have used it and revised it for their own use. It can be used 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, 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 is the author of this 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, which 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. (Deb)

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 Thanksgiving 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

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Dismemberment by Jan Engels-Smith

Dismemberment by Jan Engels-Smith


There is a duality in existence that is an artificial construct but which affects us in significant ways.  Our immediate consciousness conceives of us as human in physical form and we respond in daily existence in this mode.

However, we are first and foremost a spirit having a human experience. Our spiritual nature is capable of carrying us to a higher consciousness where we may be aware of the perfection of our creation and the flawless qualities of our being. The human form that we associate with our earthly reality is subjected to distortion and alteration by the human conditions of struggle, failure, and pain, but this variance from our truer spiritual nature, while seeming to be so real, is actually a false image of our better selves. Aligning our human form with our spiritual reality allows us to recall the perfection of our beginnings and to restore our power to create our better future.

Shamans have long understood the truth of our existence and have created fertility, death, and birth rites, healing practices, and initiation ceremonies that reflect the belief that humans are first and foremost spiritual beings.  Our modern culture, absent the influence of these ancient practices, has succumbed to a singular identity with our physical being to the great diminishment of our spiritual side and a corresponding sense of helplessness and hopelessness. Shamans understood and valued the empowerment wrought from spiritual practices and they assisted people in maintaining a close association with the spirit world, the source of healing and strength.  A life lived solely in identity with the physical body is destined to focus on the harshest conditions that intrude most powerfully on our thinking.  Stress, depression, failure, pain, and illness are forceful disorders that, in the physical body, can push aside thoughts of joy, contentment, and love.  Reconnecting to our spiritual being allows us to restore the excellence of our true nature. That which was accomplished in ancient shamanic practices can be achieved again, if we can find again the spirit of the shaman and if we make the choice to act with the power that is within us.

In addition to our own separation from our true self, this perception of our living only as physical beings contributes to our separation from others. In the spiritual realm, we are connected to all other beings in a cosmic unity that increases our personal power and allows us to pass beyond our ego into an alignment with all existence.  In this state of being we can realize our full connection to others and overcome the artificial separation from nature and the spirit realm that is so common to our current reality.

Shamans have understood this human predicament for eons and have created initiation ceremonies of dismemberment.  The philosophy of dismemberment is that if you dismember the body you release attachments and then you can remember your radiance and your true spiritual self.  The dismemberment of the body also releases the lock down the body has on false realities—such as the inability to heal, the limited possibilities of resolution of difficult situations, or even the idea that something is impossible to change.  These beliefs of limitations are held in the body and in our egoic left brain of rational thought. They permeate our chakras and emit negative vibrations and undesirable energies. The power of dismemberment is in the release of these adverse powers and their replacement with positive dynamisms that promote a healthy and empowered self that is capable and proficient in meeting life’s challenges.

Dismemberments can be achieved through direct action but they are also natural to life.  They may happen spontaneously to us and are often experienced during difficult hardships and loss.  The loss of a job, the loss of a loved one, a divorce, a financial crisis, or unexpected health issues can serve to clarify our thinking and open us to new possibilities.  There is of course much initial pain and sadness associated with such drastic changes in our lives but often with the passage of time a person may find that the loss was a gain and an opening to opportunity.  Perhaps one should have left the job because he was miserable or she should have left the marriage because it was disempowering.  Even poor health might lead one to seek positive changes in habits and cause one to acquire an appreciation of the simple joys of life.  The cliché of making lemonade from lemons is part of the physiological mindset that facilitates the dismemberment in a good way. Of course a person can be consumed with grief or loss and decide to never recover; however, I believe this decision is a function of the ego and not part of the natural course of life.  The tarot card THE TOWER is an excellent example of this.  The history of the tarot cards explains that there are 72 different situations (72 cards) a person will find in the course of life.  We all experience them provided that we live a normal length of time.  These don’t change as generations pass.  There are different scenarios but the life lessons remain the same.

The spirits say it is in our original blueprint to be happy, healthy, and well and that life is to be enjoyed and revered as a blessing.  When we develop other realities as a function of our ego and our separation from our source, we lose sight of our perfect origins and suffer the consequences of negativity and helplessness. Shamans serve to reconnect humans to their spiritual source and empower them to regain their strength from the geneses of their true beginnings.

Shamans performed dismemberment ceremonies on a regular basis to clear individuals of harmful limiting beliefs and negative body responses. The modern shaman continues the practice to overcome the negative influence of a culture that has moved far from its roots and that has lost the ability to connect easily to our spiritual natures.  Modern life is in dire need of revitalization and a renewal of our forgotten source.  The practice of dismemberment lends itself well to allowing us to overcome the artificial barriers that have inhibited our spiritual growth and limited our abilities to heal and be well. Dismemberment is fundamentally about opening new passageways to a knowingness of the divine order of the universe by removing the obstructions that we have acquired in this physical existence that knows only the single dimension of a limiting reality.  By moving to a non-ordinary reality, we discover that the spirits do love us and that the universe is created from a positive life force of which we are a part. From this perspective we are able to rid ourselves of the contamination of faulty thinking and a restricted belief system and move to a realization of the power of the cosmic forces of which we are a part.

So how might one accomplish this dismemberment of the body and remembrance of one’s true self? The dismemberment journey is simple.  You state your intention to the spirits that you would like to be dismembered down to nothingness. (The ego usually strongly resists this intention, but hold it anyway.) You then proceed to move into your journey experience.  Usually your spirit ally will start tearing you apart.  I know that sounds gruesome but you want to imagine a complete disembodiment.  Remember that you are seeking a dramatic transformation and a deep alteration in your thinking.  You are attempting to overcome long held belief systems that are the product of many years of programming.  We have all been influenced and shaped by a modern culture that resists spiritual enlightenment and allowing for your dismemberment is a way to tear down these barriers and open your way to your spiritual self.  There is no pain but the path to a new realization of your true self may be difficult initially because it is so unfamiliar to our current state of being.  Stay the path and call in your spiritual aides to help in your transformation. As you envision your physical being coming apart, you will experience a renewal of your true self drawn from your source of creation.

Pain is a derivative of three-dimensional reality and not an experience to be found in the higher dimensions of a journey often called the shamanic state of mind.  When I am in such a state, I usually watch the process as well as experience it, which is another phenomenon of our omnipresence that is experienced in a journey.  In the higher dimensions, you may coexist in multiple states—such as an observer and a participant.  The idea that we can only be one thing or be present in one place is a concept held by the limitation of three-dimension reality.  Curiously, the science of quantum physics is beginning to posit that there is an existence of simultaneity that allows for the duality of existence of physical objects as well as a unity of being that denies the separation of the universe into fragments.  One has to wonder if the ancient shaman was the precursor of the modern quantum physicist.

I have often asked my students for feedback from their dismemberment journeys that we did in class.  I am amazed at the pulverization, hacking apart, or devouring that happened to them.  Everything is dismembered until they are less than particles and their ego is desperately holding on for dear life.  With intention and permission even the final act of letting go of one’s ego can be realized.   Complete dismemberment from the body and mind can be accomplished. Even if only for a moment, great feelings of relief and freedom can be achieved.  Aches and pains can be eliminated, illnesses can vanish, and feelings of helplessness can disappear.  Once you have experienced complete dismemberment you will never be the same again.  Some who have gone deeply through the process claim that they do not even recognize themselves when they return to this reality.  For some individuals the process is almost like amnesia but in a positive sense. Individuals have recounted how they temporarily do not recognize friends, remember their address or phone number, or recall long held memories. There is no need for concern in this brief aberration but it is a sign that one has effectively transformed and is returning as a new individual with a different outlook on life and a renewed understanding of existence and humankind’s place in the universe.

The process of dismemberment frees you from the countless tethers that keep you limited—whether values, norms, ethics, standards, or morals that have been imposed by forces in this current reality—and replaces limitation with boundless possibility and supplants reactive behaviors with a proactive empowerment that allows you to choose your own destiny rather than accept this society’s judgment of your worth. Dismemberment is followed by a reassembling of your self but never in the same form that had existed previously. Absent the contamination of false assumptions and the negative energy of scarcity, your new self will consist of that which you learned in your communion with your spirit helpers. Your new self will be imbued with the joy and positive feelings that the universe has determined are natural to your being. There is a line from Oscar Wilde in his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray that reads, “Veil after veil of thin dusky gauze is lifted, and by degrees the forms and colours of things are restored to them, and we watch the dawn remaking the world in its antique pattern.” It’s a beautiful description of the remarkable effect of a new day beginning. In many ways the dismemberment and transformation of one’s being is very much like that emerging daybreak—full of promise and beauty.

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Ceremony By Jan Engels-Smith

Ceremony By Jan Engels-Smith


The nature of ritual is that it supports change. Rituals are performed to make something happen, invoke spiritual power, or identify something as sacred. They are designed to transcend the linear mind, stimulate the senses, and open the subconscious to inner work, inner change, and transformation. I think of ceremonies as celebrations and often use the words interchangeably. Both rituals and ceremonies can help you experience Spirit in a profound and dynamic way. They help to declare your intentions and to acknowledge the spirits as magnificent beings.

You have been exposed to ritual and ceremony no matter what your background. Cultures create different traditions to honor the spirit realm, but there are many commonalities throughout the world. All cultures and societies have rituals such as funerals, weddings, celebrations of birth, and other transitions in life. Rituals are often used as rites of passage to mark stages of change in one’s lifetime.

Benedictions, sacraments, candlelight services, chorus singing, prayer, invoking the directions, blessing-way ceremonies, sweat lodges, vision quests, sun dances, darmas, and chanting are all forms of calling Spirit to join in a special way to bless and to guide. Rituals promote a giving and sharing of information between you and Spirit, each of you benefiting the other. I have found repeatedly and without exception that if you ask with an attitude of respect for help from the spirit realm, it will be available to you. Rituals and ceremonies do just that. They serve as the invitation to Spirit that says, “Join me. Bless this time. I honor your presence and your existence. I believe in you; help me connect to you in a powerful way. Let me feel you around me and inside of me. Merge with me.”

Rituals and ceremonies can be done privately or publicly. Just bowing your head before a meal and thanking Spirit for the bounty of your table is a ceremony. The more you do ritual and ceremony with intention and love, the more you will come to know the marvelous energy of the spirit realm. After all, if you want to walk the spiritual path, then you need to acknowledge Spirit and start defining and developing your relationship.


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Vision Quest

Vision Quest By Jan Engels-Smith


A vision quest is a Native American ceremony that in the Lakota language is called hanblecha, which means crying for a vision. It is a calling out to Spirit, to God, to Great Spirit with a request and questing for an answer. The vision quest is traditionally done for four days and four nights. The person on the quest sits isolated with no food or water connected through prayer to Spirit. Different cultures with similar intents conduct the quest with variations in time and practice. In all cases, the person on the vision quest places himself/herself in a precarious position and trusts and calls out to Spirit in a ceremonial way. Other participants remain in camp and offer support to the persons on the quest. These supporters check in on the questers periodically and pray for them during their vision quest.

I took one year to prepare for my hanblecha. Traditionally, there is a year of preparing for the actual vision quest and then a year of unfolding. I reference my quest to underscore that God is continually teaching me about love. Unconditional love is the basis of the universe and spirituality, but too many humans have no experience of love without conditions. In our society, love often has strings attached. Punishments, judgments, overpowering demands, and competition are all marionette strings that control human behavior. If you have not experienced unconditional love, it is almost impossible to understand or to hold its wisdom. I hardly have words to explain the phenomenon in general terms and it is even more difficult to describe it in the way that I experienced it.

I had many mystical experiences during my vision quest and will focus on one in particular. I feel that this experience was not only meaningful for me but also contains a message for all beings. Let me preface the story with a ritual that I did the morning before I left my house. I have a little bag of terra cotta hearts that I often give as gifts to my clients after I do a soul retrieval. Each heart has a word inscribed on its face to impart some sort of inspiration or message. I usually meditate with the bag in my lap or in my hands, asking the spirits which divine message I should give. I then reach in with my hand and pull a heart. On the morning of my quest I did this for myself and the heart message that I drew was willingness. I placed it on the altar I created at my vision quest spot.

The August moon was full on the first night of my quest. Nature provided me with wonderful weather conditions and surrounding beauty. The moon was big, beautiful, and in full glory as I viewed her from my sacred spot. I held a sacred prayer stick with white leather prayer bundles containing tobacco hanging from it that I made for the event. Tobacco is often used as an offering to the spirits. If you place your prayer, through intention into the tobacco, then wrap the tobacco up in a piece of cloth, it becomes a prayer bundle. I had chosen beautiful white leather for my bundles and had treated the stick as a work of art for I had put much creativity and intention into creating this sacred item. In fact, my whole year of preparation had involved this level of intensity. I took the entire process extremely seriously and went the extra mile to insure that I prepared appropriately. I had no doubt in my mind that when I entered my sacred spot for my vision quest, Spirit knew I was serious. The spirits had asked me to do this sacred ceremony in a previous shamanic journey, so here I was.

I was not prepared for one thing even though I had gone through all this preparation. I began the quest with a severe sore throat and cold that developed days before the ceremony was to start. By the time I was to go to my spot, I was extremely ill and it took every bit of energy I could muster to continue. I also had no idea how uncomfortable I would be sitting on the ground with an aching body. My senses were dulled and whatever natural abilities I possessed were hampered by the oppressive aches and discomforts of the sickness. I felt very distant from Spirit. I found myself staring at the terra cotta heart willingness. Even though I felt completely disconnected and discouraged, I had the willingness to continue and to trust Spirit.

It was about 2:00 a.m. and I was sitting with my back against a tree. I had been sitting for hours taking in the solitude of the night. It was during this quiet time that I distinctly heard someone say, “Jan.” I looked around, expecting to see that my support person had come to check on me. No one was there. I again heard my name, “Jan.” I looked around again. This time I stood up and turned. I heard it a third time and realized that the sound was coming from above. I looked to the moon. Could the moon be calling my name? I was seized by emotion. My legs started to tremble and my eyes filled with tears. Because of my weakened condition, I had no energy to doubt or to second-guess what was happening. I just followed the direction of my heart. I raised my prayer stick to the moon and held it up and out, as if offering it to the mighty sacred one of the sky. I began crying out my prayers of intention. I knew that the moon was hearing me and communicating directly with me on this sacred night.

The next thing I knew I was traveling through space. I traveled up and up with the speed of light, all the way to the moon. I magically became the moon. As I merged with it, I could see myself standing down on Earth as this little person holding her prayer stick into the sky, crying, and trembling both with emotion and weakness. Her heart filled with love, dedication, willingness and asking to be heard and noticed. I was overwhelmed with compassion, with unconditional love, with emotions that no words can describe. I had become the moon. I had become Great Spirit, the universe. On an emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual level, I experienced a love that was greater than anything I had ever imagined or humanly experienced. My cells throbbed as they absorbed and responded to this experience. I had no bodily connection to the little person I was watching below, but I had an overwhelming heart connection. I loved her beyond what I had ever experienced in the human realm. I understood what it means when God says to love unconditionally, not only others but oneself as well.

I do not know how long I spent on this sky adventure. When my spirit reentered my body, it slammed me into the ground and I remember hitting my head hard. I also heard a thud, sounds like that of someone hitting you square on the chest with a flat hand. The experience was like none I had ever had. Even with all of the journeying I had done, I was not prepared for this encounter. The experience was not induced by drumming or intention. I physically and audibly heard my name called and I responded by making myself available. Spirit then took me on a journey to learn about love-the kind of love that Creator holds for us, and the love of which the universe is made. It awakened in me a deep understanding of what Spirit means when it refers to love. This love is of the magnitude contained in the light so often referred to in near-death experiences. It is the love on which enlightenment is based. It is beyond what many of us know, but it is within reach of all of us.

When unconditional love is revealed, it serves as an example of what life can be like here on earth. Spirit does not wave such promise in front of us and then say,” Sorry. You cannot have any.” Spirit allows us such remarkable experiences so that we can have a tangible event stored in our cellular memory to call upon when the time is right. This memory compels us to keep sight of what we strive for; peace, unconditional love, and freedom from judgment of others and of self. Spirit works in miraculous ways if you just provide the willingness.

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