Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Voting for Our Future, Vanquishing the Spectre of Global Warming

This past weekend I taught the final of four classes on “Spirited Living: A Shamanic Journey into Self-Healing.” It was a very powerful weekend for all participants, myself included.

The focus of this class was on how the students could weave the shamanic support and techniques they had learned into their lives after class. As mesa carriers and pampamesayoq’s (Earth Stewards), I hope that each student will continue to do their own personal healing as well as make themselves available in their communities.

One of the topics raised was the issue of global warming and its effects on all the inhabitants of this planet. I told the class that the spirit world and the animals had asked me to make this a special focus for everyone. We discussed the idea that doing our personal clearing work helps to heal the planet as well as ourselves since we are all connected, but the question was raised as to what more could be done.

In response I have now created a new page on my website under Resources, Inspiring People and Animal Videos, some of which are simply humorous (laughter is very healing), but other videos fulfill the criteria of being geared toward inspiring personal, community, or global change. They may not seem overtly shamanic in nature, but each of those videos I have selected deals with aspects that shamans concerns themselves with: understanding and communication with All Our Relations, the animals that we share this world with; visions of sustainability, green perspective, and harmony with the natural world; and issues of life and death, all of which lies within the purview of shamans of any culture. Shamanism is a living tradition, adapting over time, maintaining a liaison with spirit and community in the language of both. Nowadays our popular culture is contained on YouTube, and within TV, movies, music, and books, etc., and I am very comfortable using all of them as a means of education and communication.

In addition to the new webpage I will be featuring some action steps in future blogs that can be taken by anyone. It is estimated that we have 10 years in which to turn global warming around, to change the climate crisis that we have created and save our planet, the animals and ourselves from certain destruction. The actions of each person is crucial at this time in our history, one person can make a difference!

For my first step I offer the opportunity for you to determine which of three videos you think should win the video contest created by U.S. PIRG, the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs), to promote the creation of more and better transportation options. There are three videos that you can vote for: “I Love Traffic,” a tongue-in-cheek (at least I hope so!) look at the beauty of traffic jams and rising gas prices; “Carrick Video: Transportation of the Future” which stars nine-year-old Carrick who pulls out all the stops with his charming and humorous on-stage personality as he takes us on a fun tour of the world of the future (can you tell this was my favorite?); and “Dear Diary,” a look at the struggles of one young man who tries a few alternative transportation methods of getting to work.

Take a moment to watch all three videos at U.S. PIRG Help Us Pick A Winner! and place your vote! I believe that popularizing videos like these can inspire people to take the steps needed to vanquish the spectre of global warming.

P.S. Young Carrick Gareth has other sustainable videos at YouTube. He is one prolific nine year-old!

P.P.S. In case you did not know, U.S. PIRG takes on powerful interests on behalf of the American public, working to win concrete results for our health and our well-being. With a strong network of researchers, advocates, organizers and students in state capitols across the country, they stand up to powerful special interests on issues where powerful special interests stand in the way of reform, like product safety, identity theft, political corruption, prescription drugs, and voting rights.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Nectar of Joy

Maybe it was the June Peruvian shamanic despacho ceremony, but lately I feel like I am living in synchronicity-land. It was an ayni despacho ceremony, designed to bring one's life into balance and harmony, removing blockages that stand in the way of your manifesting your highest potential. It is said that when you are in balance and harmony with the natural world then the universe actively conspires on your behalf. Based on the following events and a separate set of experiences I shall relate in a later post, it must have been a doozy of a ceremony.

It all started with the article of the day on DailyOm which was Messengers of Direction: Animals in Nature, a topic near and dear to my heart in light of my healing and teaching practice, shamanic and otherwise. I took time to join in the discussion, adding my two cents that I had indeed had wonderful and amazing experiences with animals as teachers and messengers, and referenced my recent article “Animals Healers, the Cats of Kitty Harbor.”

Then, over breakfast, I finished up this great novel I had been reading, “Manless in Montclair,” which concerns a woman who becomes a widow mid-life. She struggles with feelings of aloneness, searching for a man who can give her comfort and love, and who can be a father to her children.

After numerous dating foibles including some classic internet dating experiences, she draws on her background as a publicist and comes up with a very creative and early version of viral marketing combined with the reward system. Whoever circulates her email amongst their friends, resulting in matching her with the man who ultimately becomes her husband, gets a vacation for two to a location of their choice. The campaign snowballs and she finds herself questioning her life, her motivations, and what she really wants.

Without spoiling the end of the book (I hate it when that happens), I think I can safely say that she concludes that it is not the goal that counts, but the people along the way and the joy that the journey brings, a theme that is woven through the book by focus on the word “naches,” the Yiddish word for joy.

I found myself shedding a few tears along her journey, resonating with her process that strongly paralleled my own relationship hurdles. I found myself thinking that I might yet overcome the issues and pitfalls that had marred my search for a romantic partner, and as I reflected upon all that I had learned along my journey I could recognize the gifts woven in amongst the challenges.

Still musing, I stepped outside for a moment to enjoy the sunshine, along with my cat, Kiya. The juvenile starling that had been feeding at the suet feeder flew to a nearby branch and began to berate Kiya for disturbing him, continuing to object as I attempted to reassure him that she meant no harm. I told him that as long as I was there she would behave herself and leave him alone. He was joined by an adult starling who was evidently familiar with me and who simply sat and observed.

As we were all communing I heard a rush of wings and a small blur sped by, a hummingbird questing for flowers. I thought he had gone, but before I could blink he was back, hovering eight inches from my face. I could see the iridescence of his feathers clearly, and the colored patch at his throat designating him a male. I was so delighted that I began speaking out loud to him, telling him how lovely he was. He stayed there for a good bit, perhaps 45 seconds, occasionally making that little “tick” sound that they do, and then just as suddenly as he had arrived, he flew off, leaving me standing there with a smile on my face and joy in my heart.

Returning to the house I wondered at the timing of his appearance, was there some significance? In the Peruvian tradition hummingbird represents strength for the long journey as we reach for our highest potential, but it felt like there was something more.

Opening up my copy of Animal Speak: The Spiritual and Magical Powers of Creatures Great and Small, I began to read about hummingbird as messenger. I got no farther than the first few words of the keynote “Tireless Joy and the Nectar of Life.” Quickly scanning, my wonder grew, phrases leapt out at me, “Anyone who has ever seen this tiny bird is filled with a sense of wonder and joy,” “associations with relationships, past and future.” I laughed aloud over the description that hummingbirds have knowledge of how to use flowers for healing, in addition to the amusing knowledge that my name is Rose and I am a healer, it seemed a clear enough message that as a healer I could access my own inner joy.

Whatever the ultimate message, the beauty of the journey that took place in the span of an hour or two that day, woven as it was from an article on the internet, a book, and a hummingbird, is one that I shall hold close in my heart. When the going gets tough, as it does from time to time, I will be able to pull out the sunlit memory of my tiny hummingbird messenger and the nectar of joy that I felt in that moment.

Photo by Rose De Dan©2008
Note: The photo that accompanies this article is of honeysuckle in bloom in Schmitz Park, the last old growth forest in Seattle, and a favorite food of hummingbirds and adults who remember the joy of tasting the sweet nectar as a child. It was taken shortly after the despacho ceremony mentioned in this article. Another piece of synchronicity?

Rose De Dan
Wild Reiki and Shamanic Healing LLC

Friday, July 4, 2008

It's Their Country, Too

Our national holiday, Independence Day or the 4th of July, is usually considered a day of fun with family and friends. We celebrate by having parades and gathering with family and friends to share food and companionship. Sometimes our fun includes firing off fireworks, the louder the better.

I'd like to take a moment to point out that not everyone enjoys fireworks, legal or illegal (which they are where I live, King County, Seattle, Alki). Many dogs and cats experience deep anxiety, fear, even terror at this time of year; an anxiety that their people often share as they watch their loved furry ones suffer. Gracie, the cat who lived across the street from me, actually approached me one year, the day after the 4th of July, seeking Reiki for emotional healing and to share her feelings (see Gracie the Cat and Fireworks). She did not just tell me how she felt, she let me feel her fear and desire to hide. She did not understand why her safe and quiet neighborhood suddenly turned into a terrifying place to be, with no hiding place far enough away from the noise and vibration -- there was no escape.

Domestic animals are not the only ones affected, wildlife feels the same way. Jacquie Lawson has released another stunningly gorgeous e-card entitled "E Pluribus Unum" (translated from Latin: Out of One, Many) that reminded me of the great beauty that is America and that it is the wilderness and the wildlife that help make it so. Wildlife that deserves our protection not only in great tracts of land far from our cities, but also within our urban landscapes. We should rejoice in the animals that have been able to survive among us and celebrate our independence with a care for them and for our environment.

If you can't entirely bring yourself to do away with fireworks completely, a very American tradition, perhaps you could tone them down. When I was a child fireworks were illegal in my home state of New Jersey (I think they are still), so my grandmother and aunt would supply us with slender wands called sparklers that when lit could be waved around illuminating the dark with miniature fountains of colored streaks of light. My sisters and I looked forward to this once-a-year event eagerly; family memories do not have to involve loud explosions, they can be made up of smaller experiences that become a tradition, year after year.

However you choose to celebrate the 4th of July this year, please remember that you share your neighborhood and homes with other species. Have a care for them, and have a safe, and fun, 4th of July.

Rose De Dan, Puma, Kiya, Saqqara, Cougar, and Sand
Wild Reiki and Shamanic Healing LLC

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Beating the Heat, Pigeon-Style

These pigeons have the right idea, beating the summer heat by a dip in a puddle created by the sprinklers by the Alki Bathhouse, West Seattle, Washington.

Photo by Rose De Dan©2008