Great Spirit


Availability, Willingness, Saying Yes

Availability, Willingness, Saying Yes by Jan Engels-Smith

Each year LightSong School of 21st Century Shamanism and Energy Medicine conducts a practicum for the students.  The practicum setting is beautiful and blissful.  We use pristine land in Tillamook, Oregon, an area that is part of the rain forest of Western Oregon.  We spend a week together camping, singing, journeying, applying the teachings and using the land as a teaching arena. This year was LightSong’s 30th practicum.  During the practicum our spiritual connection is profound and intense. The spirits have consistently supplied me with invaluable information that has literally molded the structure of LightSong and molded the lives of those that participate.  I continually use this information as teaching material in our various classes. It is rich and encourages mind-expanding insights.

There is always a theme that presents during my initial journeys when I am preparing for the experience. These journeys precast the teaching I will deliver to the group.   I never know what the theme will be until we actually embark upon the land. There were four interlocking themes that presented this year:

  • Humans are revered in the universe and being on Earth is equivalent to working on a doctorial degree in spiritual development while enrolled in the Earth school.
  • Life on Earth is about relationships and emotion.
  • The spirits have more access to you to help when you are available and willing and say “Yes.”
  • There is always a bigger picture occurring energetically that is often divine in character.

Each of these themes has several subcategories to them, which I will flesh out in future writings.

Human beings are very complex and accelerated beings in the universe and are esteemed and revered in the cosmos. That doesn’t mean that humans have accelerated intelligence or technical skills, but that we have been many lives in many places and times, and becoming human is to be part of the advanced “school.” In my journeys, the spirits said that before incarnating as human on this planet we incarnate into many animals, plants, geological features, nature spirit forms, and, in fact, most of the things that exist on the earth. We use these incarnations as teachings. Teachings that when remembered bring us into the full expression of being human. Humans are the only species that develops a strong ego, but lifetimes as other creatures are pure and uncomplicated.  Origin instruction isn’t lost in the imprisonment of the ego.  Lessons on love, cooperation, unity, harmony, balance, communication, collaboration, and telepathy are easy and natural from nature.  These lifetimes are documented into our individual signature, which the spirits call our own personal Akashic record that we hold within.

In previous teachings the spirits explained to me that frequently the more difficult the life the more advanced the soul.  I learned while performing soul retrievals on individuals whose character and integrity I might have doubted that the spirits rebuffed me for any negative judgment.  The spirits often displayed extreme reverence for individuals whose character I might have doubted. A person’s actions that might create problems for others might not be appropriate but they are also a challenge to the person who must overcome any interior faults or shortcomings. When I asked about this, the spirits explained that challenges in a person’s life can lead to great advancement and that often extremely difficult life experiences, especially those of the handicapped, are often the source of extremely advanced souls. The degree of success of the individual will be determined by how the person develops in love. The trials and tribulations of a challenging life may well produce a stronger and more developed loving expression, which is seen as an advancement of the soul.

I thought of Stephen Hawkins and his debilitating illness, Ludwig Beethoven’s loss of hearing, and Michelangelo’s failing eyesight that might have ended their lustrous careers before they had accomplished their full destiny and recognized that their challenges might well have compelled them to greater heights of achievement. Each of us faces challenges that may seem insurmountable, but the very act of choosing to overcome these hardships of our life circumstances will lead to ever-greater potentials for accomplishment. Each lifetime contains lessons and humans, to be successful, have to balance heart, mind, and spirit in the rich fields of awareness, love, harmony, and peace if they hope to fully realize what the spirits know to be the natural conditions of existence. Our effort is facilitated by the spirits insistence that we recognize our perfection and move away from judgment, attachment and any sense of futility and toward becoming our true selves.

Earth is the planet of diversity and emotion. We are a people of diverse cultures, races, religions and language. Our emotions govern much of our actions and create strong egoic opinions. Amid this entire myriad of influences, the human race strives to develop a common understanding of the cosmos and attempts to develop an actualization that determines our future and allows for the general ascension of human beings to an awareness of our universal perfection in a loving and supportive universe.

Humans have to coordinate all of this. Every moment of every day each of us is dealing with diversity and attempting to establish positive relationships. It is a challenge that the human race faces as individuals seek self-actualization and collectively we strive to allow our spiritual natures to break free of our egos and self doubts. The fundamental question is how to bring humanity to a higher place and achieve oneness with the cosmos. Every human experience is ultimately about relationships.  We seek personal mastery but with the goal of living in harmony with the entire planet and as one with the universe. Since Adam and Eve first established a relationship, civilization has always sought—often with little success—to bring harmony and peace to our world in congruence with all of humanity. The barriers of ego and the attractions of greed and power seem to have always held more appeal than the values of a spiritual life lived in concord with an understanding of the unity of all things in a perfect universe. We seem too willing to accept the inevitability of conflict and divergence because we have been taught in an ego-driven world that that is the nature of existence. The spirits have made it clear that such a decision is in opposition to the true nature of existence.

hathor pyramid

Tom Kenyon, in his book The Hathor Material, supports this concept with a descriptive graph titled the Pyramid of Ascension. The movement of the spiral as it spirals upward strikes all four corners repeatedly. If a corner is not solid in its foundation, the spiral will topple. The four corners are about relationship: to yourself or your Body, to others, to Earth or the elements, and to service.

I want to emphasize that as long as humans have existed or will exist, we will be occupied and engaged with this issue. Our individual attention to the ascension pyramid assists us to focus on our personal challenges with understanding that what we do individually will either help or hinder humanity. Often we don’t realize or comprehend that our individual actions affect all of humanity. We think of ourselves as individuals, with personal experiences and desires, often forgetting that our experiences have a profound affect on the whole of humanity. As we are challenged and work through issues, we are working through issues millions of people hold. They are common to the human condition. As you find success in your concerns, you bring success to others.  The common denominator in all things is relationship. Relationships are about love and the human condition is about discovering what true love is while still juggling opinion, judgment, loss and difficult situations. The spirits say we are learning what it really means to be human as we strive for the glory of harmony in diversity, which they deem as a mastery level incarnation. With that we gain understanding on why we would be revered in the universe and why we are in such a rigorous and demanding school—the Earth school. The concept of the Earth as a school may not be new—in fact I have heard the term Earth School for probably 25 years—however, the new information that the spirits delivered beckoned me to review these teaching another time.

I want to read something that I experienced when my mother passed two years ago.  I made contact with her on the other side on the two-year anniversary of her death.

I wrote about this in my article titled “Death and Dying from a Shamanic Perspective.”

My mom appeared in all her radiance.  The love emanating from her was spellbinding.  We greeted, hugged, kissed, and wrapped ourselves together.  I was overwhelmed with recall of special intimate moments.  My life flashed before me with magical instances with my mom.  It was holographic in nature.  All my senses where activated: smell, touch, sight and sound.  I was reliving my life with my mom much as I would image a life review but everything happened simultaneously and holistically instead of in chronological order. I fully embodied our life together from my birth to her death. I basked in this love fest for several minutes.

As our time progressed and I gained my composure, I asked her what she wished to share with me.  She said: Life is all about relationships.  Love is just another word for relationships.  All relationships need to eventually be unconditional. What you don’t bring into alignment in this lifetime you will repeat until you get it right. (I was thinking Groundhog Day on steroids!)  Time passes on earth like a flash, enjoy and foster good relationships.  Make that happen for yourself. Do whatever you can to make that happen, always. Share this information with your children, your grandchildren, your friends and all that you know. Relationships are the foundation of love.  I contemplated her statements. My mom never taught with words, always through example.  Her relationships were exemplary. Had she discovered the truth about love while living? My heart was bursting.

At our practicum this year, the spirits taught on this subject for the entire week.  In this article I will emphasize three words that they used: availability, willingness and saying Yes.

Availability. What does that mean? How many times a day do you make yourself available to spirit? We are busy beings and often we aren’t available to spirit. We must take the time to listen. The spirits are communicating in everything that we come into contact with every day.

Willingness. Are you willing to be different? Are you willing to make the changes the lesson is asking you to make?

Spirit can do a tremendous amount for you, but you also have free will. You are ultimately in control. When you are ready, say Yes and ask “What can I do every day to put changes into action?” If your actions support your change you will make progress.


**Artwork by Margie McMahon


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Invocation and Intention in Shamanism and Energy Medicine

The Use of Invocation and Intention in Shamanism and Energy Medicine

Invocation and Intention in Shamanism and Energy Medicine



The reason for an invocation is to inform yourself and the spirit world, to a lesser extent, that you are beginning a process of connecting with them. Intentionally you are invoking particular compassionate helping spirits to assist you in making this connection. Be very clear about whom you are calling in to your experience always intending the spirits to be compassionate and healing. Set boundaries to prevent lower frequency vibrations from emerging and focus on beseeching your protecting spirits. I solicit deities from many different traditions and cultures such as Egyptian goddesses, Hindu protectors and the Archangels. I tend to be very eclectic in my spirit approach and do not adhere to a particular cultural form. For me energy medicine is universal and unlimited by rigid practices. I request the spirits to enter my space as well as my person and I only let in energies as great as self or greater; so, I am automatically protected from lower frequency or negative energies by stating that intention. Whenever I am involved in ceremony, or when I am performing healing ceremonies, I always call in protecting spirits. Be responsible for yourself in any ceremony or any time that you create contact with other realms, call in your own protecting spirits and your own allies. Always take care of yourself. Stating a clear intention will create safety. Trust the process.

At the end of the invocation I declare an intention for the purpose of the invocation. This practice is based on the fact that energy follows intention. I believe that intention forms an experience. If you could develop a habit of declaring an intention when you get in the car, when you go to the grocery store, or when you pick up the phone, you will be amazed at how this deliberate act will alter the situation in a positive way. Consciously create through intention instead of leaving outcome to randomness. Intention generates an energy and that energy creates an outcome. In a shamanic journey be very clear about what you are asking of the spirits. The clarity of your intention will influence your entire journey and how clear the response from the spirits will be. You can use clear intentions in every aspect of your life and actively create the results that you desire. Experiment with this information. Intend that you have a good experience when you are driving your car, intend to be on time, intend to enjoy the company of a stranger, or intend contentment in your work. You will be amazed how circumstances will alter to manifest your intention. These truths we learn in studying shamanism and energy medicine, however it may be something that you expand upon and apply to your everyday life.

Remember you are a creative energy being. Energy is always in motion and you are always broadcasting something from your person. The intentions that emanate from you and that are declared in these invocations will put frequencies of energy in motion and influence all that you come in contact with.

An example of an Invocation:


In this moment in time, let me lift my vibration above the density of the earth to the area of purity. Of pure light, pure truth, pure beauty, pure love, pure wholeness. . . .

I send a strong voice and I stand in gratitude, awe, appreciation and give thanks in advance for those divine beings that have come. I ask to lift my vibrations above the densities of the earth. Those densities being the things that weigh me down—doubt, fears, disbelief, problems, wounds, heartaches, body aches. The things that can pull me down out of the divine and make me feel like I am less than. I ask to lift myself above these things into places of purity—of pure light and of pure love, of pure truth and of pure beauty, of pure healing and pure wholeness, and of the pure feeling of this divine connection with spirit.  I call forth and invite the divine to be present. Opening the blessing fields allowing the universal life force energy to flow down into this room, into me, and into the space between the space, so that everything is connected. I invite Mother-Father-God, I invite the Great Mystery, I invite the power of Reiki, bringing in the sacred symbols and having them activated in the room. I invite the Angels, the Archangels, the Guardian Angels, the Light Beings, the healing Angels. And I give great thanks for the diligence you have had with the human race. And I ask you to come in strongly, to intervene in ways I do not even know I need help. You offer a divine message that I am open to. I invite the elements air, water, fire, earth, and sacred space. I have reverence, for it is you that have given all life, form and matter—without you here I would not exist. I invite the protecting spirits to stand guard at the four corners of the room and all around me only allowing in energies as great as self or greater.  I invite the teachers, animal allies and any of the other allies and light beings waiting to make this connection with me. I am excited to connect with you. I invite the spirits of the room, the land. I give thanks in advance for the great healings that will take place while I interact with you and the connections that will take place and the transformation and change that will be the result. I thank you for your beautiful response to this request. I invite all those compassionate healing spirits that are unnamed and unknown that are here to guide me, the teachers that want me to learn these ways. They have tapped me on the shoulder, the ancestors that have gone before me, and the descendants that will go after me. And I ask the ascendeddescendants of the New Earth to teach me how to be, because it is the choices and decisions I make today that will determine who is created in the future, and how it will be. So I ask the ascended descendants of the New Earth to come here. They are coming from a world of light, of love, of peace. And I call my True Self, an unwounded and unwoundable version of me. And with all of this, I set my intention. My intention is … (this is filled in with the intention of the journey, or the intention of the day, etc.) That I feel connected and loved. That community is established between the worlds and that there is sharing of the heart and opening of the heart, the language of the heart is spoken. And so we stand together believing and loving. I thank you Great Spirit, thank you Blessed Ones. Ahomitakuye oyasin.


This example is available for you to use. The example includes references to personal spirits that I work with—you can put in your own. I want to draw attention to the statement I include in every invocation. I have used these words since 1993, and I still bask in teachings from the spirits pertaining to them. I am referring to:

In this moment in time, let me lift my vibration above the density of the earth to the area of purity. Of pure light, pure truth, pure beauty, pure love, pure wholeness. . . .

The spirits have been explaining to me that in order to move into the place of the higher vibrations, we have to energetically move out of the thoughts that weigh us down, the densities —the words, the negativity, the hardship, the worries, all those vibrations that weigh on us all. With this invocation the vibrations elevate into higher levels eliminating the heavy, dense, lower frequency energies weighing on you. I was using the statement before I really understood its significance.

In my invocation, I am of course calling to my spiritual allies; I am voicing who I want present—my spiritual teachers, guides, enlightened ones, light beings, Reiki masters, symbols, archangels. Sometimes I name them, and sometimes I do not. You can invoke anybody that you like to work with—particular saints or Tibetan deities or other spiritual helpers. I frequently address the ancestors and the descendants. The descendants are the people who will live after us. They do not have to be your direct descendants, just the ones that come after us. We can call the descendants here, just like we can call the ancestors here. Just because they have not been born yet, does not mean they cannot energetically appear. In shamanism we do not view time as linear; all dimensions are happening simultaneously. I like to call the descendants that are living in peace and harmony, The New Earth. Because those are the conditions I want to consciously create. Always call in any protection you desire.

The word I end my invocation with, mitakuye oyasin, is a Lakota phrase that means, “All my relations.” It is loosely translated: We are related to everything. We are related to the trees, the earth, the dirt, the ants, the air and each other. The use of the phrase acknowledges that we are all related. We are all sisters and brothers. There is no difference in us in that way. We are all breathing the same air; we are all on the earth.  She is our home.

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Spiritual Messages from Animals

How to Receive Spiritual Messages from Animals by Jan Engels Smith

Are you receiving spiritual messages from animals?

The following is a question about how to receive spiritual messages from animals. If you have similar spiritual questions or experiences join LightSong’s Talking Stick Phone Forum each month. The Talking Stick is available to anyone who wishes to access it in the spirit of the ancient tribal council where we all share our thoughts, support each other and recognize our common humanity.


A huge bald eagle suddenly stopped me on the highway today. A large bald eagle traveled next to my car then landed on the road up ahead in my lane. The eagle stood on the road looking at me while I came to a complete stop about 10 feet from where he stood. There were no other cars, it was just me and the eagle. Then the bird turned and flew off. I am still in awe about this interaction. How do I receive the message this eagle was bringing to me? Are there books that offer guidance? -Adeah W., Iowa


We are born with hundreds of helping allies. Many of them animals, birds, reptiles, etc. When an animal/bird makes specific attempts to catch your attention there is reason, usually a message of some type.

Depending on how much you want this message will determine how much you pursue to understand the experience. To me books like Animal Speaks by Ted Andrews or Animal Cards by Jamie Sands are more about animal totems than animal helping allies. The author provides you a pat answer of the “personality/or totem” of that particular animal. It really has nothing to do with a personal message such as this and can get in the way of your clarity.

I always suggest to my students that they ask the animal first and then look it up in a book so the book doesn’t influence through suggestion in their journey.

The way to get a personal message is multi-layered:
•    You can learn to journey for yourself; going into a specific altered stated to speak with spirit allies.
•    You can ask a shaman to journey for you.
•    You can ask internally and wait for an impression to arise. Impression does not mean visual, it could be an impression of a thought.

Each method is good to use, of course learning to journey for yourself opens up the magically doors of telecommunicating with the spirit realm. I believe that nature is talking to us 24/7 telepathically. A few will ever listen with spirit ears/heart.

When an animal specifically offers a personal interaction such as your eagle did I would say yes, I am listening and pursue. Usually there is a HUGE message that has the potential to take you down a new road of understanding your life.


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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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