To do this work we need to be open to ourselves in all ways, the gremlin bits as well as the eagle in the sky. The eagle isn’t earthbound, she sees things differently from up there. It’s a place from where the gremlins, the icky bits which we all have, are no longer ‘bad’. Because the first thing we need to do is to stop judging who we are, and just be open to experience. The judgements we make about ourselves, which we may not even know we are doing, are somebody else’s idea. We weren’t born with them. They belong to the past. They are what our parents needed us to be, or what religion needed us to be hundreds of years ago, or what society needs us to be to make us productive and docile.
This judging can take a lot of resisting when there are still strong messages coming in from society about who we ‘ought’ to be. To not judge ourselves, we also need not to be overly bothered by what others think of us, or at least our perception of what they think.
These things are never all at once. And we can begin by not judging ourselves for judging ourselves! We need huge sympathy for the way we are, for there are always reasons. It’s very simple, and very transformative. It’s the basis of many ‘mystical’ traditions. Just being open to who we are, and not judging.
This change in attitude can be quick, but it can take a long time to get to that point, to be able to see it. Judging can go very deep, it can seem like part of the fabric of reality – it can express itself as ‘moral standards’, a sense of being above ordinary people and their ‘mundane’ concerns. But that’s religion, and it always casts a shadow. We need to go beyond good and evil.
Age can help: it’s like we’ve seen over and again what we and others are like, and we can forgive it. It’s just what it is to be human.
So it’s a simple thing, even a quick thing, but it takes a long time and it’s difficult.
And we’ve been part of a judging culture for so long, ever since Christianity took hold 1000 years ago, that judging has become integral to who we are, it’s like the bones of our personality.
Once we begin to stop judging, then much that is unconscious can become conscious, because it is no longer bad or shameful.
With ‘shamanic’ work, if you are fortunate, something in you will hold you back until you have a decent handle on who you are. Hold you back, that is, from being some kind of healer. This can go on for decades, because really we may not be ready till we’ve been around a long time. Enough time to build up an ego and then start to dismantle it.
This seems to me to be in line with a traditional perspective. You don’t do courses to become a ‘shamanic practitioner’, that packaged product, largely shorn of traditional context, that we can ‘add on’ to our life in the space of a few short years. It’s about who we are, and about a context of participation in, and gratitude to the natural world and the spirit world, which are not different. It’s slow. There’s no pressure: the spirits have it in hand. The sense of reconnection to what we have lost – the massive soul loss of the last 3000 years, since we began to distance ourselves from nature – is joyful.
These are the things that matter. Finding ways to not judge ourselves and being open to who we are. And letting the natural world begin to reclaim us. Nature does not judge.