• Dangerous Beauty – Elemental Attraction

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Since the completion of the mapping of the human genome, a new set of interesting studies has emerged inquiring into the parameters or extent of inherited traits. Geneticists are looking into these subsets of inheritance in what is now called the Epigenome  – Their studies focus on a set of genetically apparent inherited traits related to enormous traumatic events like widespread famine, a huge natural disaster and the horrors of genocide. Family patterns of trauma related to these kinds of huge events, appear to pass down tendencies for future afflictions and illnesses like diabetes and other systemic ailments just like inherited bone structures, intelligence and eye color.

The acknowledgement of this kind of inheritance by the scientific community is as close to agreement with the focus of shamanic healings as modern science has come. This was particularly affirming for me as a shamanic practitioner dealing with unseen roots of afflictions. The unusual inherited patterns that I am called on to investigate usually have dramatic, remembered family stories attached to them. When this is so, it can be easier to mark their progress in a line and their effect on descendants. In some cases these patterns originate from interference or interactions with powerful natural forces. These forces are often referred to as Elementals. Elementals exercise and use natural intelligence to interact with other living energetic entities, and we humans are wonderful ‘playthings’ for them because we have so much capacity for this kind of interaction. Our cultural myths are stories of humans doing just this – interacting with superhuman or godlike entities with mixed results in hopes of surviving and extracting some of their power for the good of humanity. 

These natural forces manifest as immense energetic entities, or unexplained phenomena attached to specific natural places. Ancient humans sometimes tried to tap or interact with this kind of power with placed stone circles or in oracular grottos. These immense energies can be disrupted or tapped in some cases for human purposes – for good or not so good.  But in essence this kind of power is not moral, empathic, or consistent in allegiance, no matter how magnificent or attractive it may be. Humans generally are no match for such elemental power. Our ancient cultural heroes succeeded because they were somehow aware that they must be approached with great care or not at all.

Unsuspecting humans can also be caught up in an elemental field without seeking contact and this is what happened to a family I was working with to help troubled descendants. Several ancestors in succeeding generations of this particular family had had tragic and strange deaths. They had become transfixed by these powers and in some cases stepped beyond safety barriers to plunge to their deaths over dangerous waterfalls.  The full force of this devastating pattern of shocking sudden loss and subsequent family trauma began to subside somewhat in successive generations. There were no new cases of this sort of death, but the remaining attachment to the story began to manifest as serious addiction – an obsessive attraction to another kind of powerful essence. The predisposition toward this kind of fixation in descendants had been passed down from this original elemental attraction. it is important for us moderns to be aware not only that these kinds of inheritances exist but that there are ancient ways to inquire, acknowledge and work with these root stories for familial healing.

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• Spirits on vacation? Always.

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Family getaways, especially to old ancestral cabins, can bring about a lot of upheaval just when everyone is expecting a rest. This can be ‘prime time’ for spirit world interventions, because we are more receptive on vacation than in our otherwise busy lives.

In families there is often an unspoken need to tell a story – Usually one member of a family will be tapped to bring things to the surface – a truth that is screaming for acknowledgement so it can disperse. This deep unconscious yearning cannot always be translated to everyday forms. Words of support and understanding can be completely misread as judgment or superiority. We can not always hear normal expressions of empathy.  Ritual tasks go deep into pre-lingual territory, the better to interrupt insistent patterns of logic, suppression, aversion, fear. I was called to look in on an extended family vacationing together far from their homes, in just such an old family cabin, used for generations. No one was sleeping well and the level of tension grew until objects were being moved around oddly and emotions were getting raw. They were sure they were experiencing a haunting. One afternoon family member suddenly had a serious emotional breakdown. Everyone had been so busy denying anything that would upset the much-needed vacation that they had not responded to this uncle’s noticeable, but unspoken distress. An extensive ritual was required to address the serious health problem he was ‘hiding’ and tipped the basket over for a larger, older family story with deeper denials.

It is a wondrous thing to turn toward what is ailing you, into fearful uncertainty. This family was able to connect the dots of their experiences and memories and see what they had all been hiding from together. It was not easy – but once the whole story was out they could relax and begin to let it go.

Sometimes houses/built structures become so aligned with the humans that inhabit them,  they will ‘collude’ to interrupt normal household activity in interesting ways. it is quite amazing really to observe this manifestation of our intelligent universe. It usually comes of a deep identification between people and a place over generations. It is a kind of compassionate habitation! That is what occurred when a middle-aged woman moved back to a beloved, but now sadly derelict childhood home. While we we focused on clearing negative influences and blessing reconstruction to portions of the house, a certain area loomed as a focus of negative and fearful energy. She was upset and flummoxed until a deeply-help memory of a trauma in just such a place came to consciousness. The house was helping her bring it to light so she could get beyond it and live there without fear!

 

 

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• Disturbing Presences – A new home has a past

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People often move to properties that are a matching picture in some way for their own story. We acquire properties and ‘own them’ in our culture’. But the land may hold other influences that must be honored and cared for. There is often a web of sacred associations that have accumulated for eons. The concept of ownership is a modern idea about land, but no matter what the name is on a legal deed, the land has its own story.

Issues of status and image often trump good judgment in people who are otherwise well intentioned. And so, even in a really uncomfortable situation like this one, there may be an odd familiarity that binds the two together: the new inhabitant, and the troubled house. It is possible that a healthy shift can naturally occur, and things can ease. In other cases, however, people move out and are relieved they did so.

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A friend of a colleague told a harrowing story of an ongoing haunting at his second home. He had recently purchased this home, perched in a beautiful location on a cliff above the ocean. He lived there only occasionally, but hoped to make it his permanent home soon. When he came to see me he reported feeling that whatever was going on, in and around the house and with him, had escalated. For example, his shaving mug had flown through the air right in front of him on a recent morning, and he often felt a strong masculine presence breathing near him at night in his room. He was not afraid of these unusual events, and spoke about them in a very matter of fact way. A very practical person, he simply wanted to return to solid sleep, and a sense of ease while there. He wanted to know if he could or should live there and anything else I could turn up that had bearing on the disturbances.

I looked into the story thoroughly over a week or so and discovered there were multiple layers of influence. The first and most urgent was the necessary re-internment of a burial object, which I described. He confirmed that he had dug this artifact up further inland on the property accidentally and discovered a human skeleton along with it, which he left buried. It was a very large stone mortar that was now situated on his porch. He was startled and a little alarmed when I mentioned this object. He realized he had felt it should be reburied, but had just forgotten about it. He promised he would dowse to find the exact spot where he had taken it out of the ground, and rebury it with prayers, appropriate offerings and apologies, leaving it without further disruption.

Level two:  The unhappy ghost of the former owner, a military man of high rank, was present in the house. Indications were that he had taken his own life there, though this had never been disclosed at sale according to my client. So we needed to help his spirit move on in the most comprehensive way.

Level three:  Some places really are not meant to have houses built on them, no matter how lovely the view, and this spot according to my spirit allies was one of those places. This whole area was a reputedly sacred spot for local native tribes. It was associated with a ‘western door’ for departing souls and as my client had found out accidentally on his own, a burial spot.

My client, R. really did not want to hear this, but my spirit allies insisted that he understand that if he chose to live there, ‘he did so at some risk’ to his peace and ease. He conscientiously followed spirit directions in every other regard, to ease and correct the situation, but refused at that time to think about selling the property. He was willing to tough it out he said, and see if things settled down. He reported an enormous quiet and calmness after our work, and developed a new appreciation for the subtle realms he had intersected.

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• Willow Tree Alarm Clock – the ancestors speak up

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When we face big decisions, our spirit allies wake up. They want to weigh in on what they see occurring. It is sometimes surprising to realize this powerful group includes our ancestors. No matter our associations with them, we are only alive because of their choices, their ability to navigate change. In my experience, if we ignore them or look away from them for too long, they will find interesting ways to show up in our lives. They begin to interrupt normal life in dramatic and unusual ways, especially if the situation you are facing is one they have some experience with.

What is your relationship to your own family stories? Your ancestors? Do you recognize family patterns that have flowed through several generations? This is a good place to begin a shamanic session.

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I was called to consult with a family whose house was posing problems for them. They had a big decision to make. They were overwhelmed by decisions that needed to be made about whether or not to stay there permanently. The house they lived in had ‘never felt like a real home to them’, although they loved the community and the beauty of the larger rural environment. Smoke from neighborhood chimneys was mysteriously drawn to their cul-de-sac, and penetrated their upstairs rooms in cool weather, creating respiratory ailments and discomfort. Lots of odd crackings, and movement occurred throughout the house. Windows opened, closets shut, cracks appeared, animals and people there were very uneasy. The latest manifestation had been the sharp, loud CRACK! of a large terracotta pot coming apart around a fairly large willow tree, growing next to the driveway. They had heard it from the house and gone running to see the source. This tree was prominently, and oddly placed near their driveway entry, where it had grown increasingly pot-bound for seven long years.

The father acknowledged that he had promised to plant it when they knew they were ‘home’. He had randomly decided that he would allow their experiment seven years. I was amazed, as always, at the wonderful ways Spirit strives to get our attention, ‘It looks like your willow tree alarm clock has gone off!’ I remember saying. It was time to decide whether or not this house would be the ‘home’ they wanted, or to seriously consider moving on.

In my visioning work for this family, I saw a group of ancestors from the ‘old country’, from eastern Europe, which my clients confirmed was the origin of both families, dressed all in black. These spirits were literally shaking this house up mercilessly. They wanted to weigh in on this big decision. They wanted to be heard, remembered, honored for their steadfastness, and have their advice followed. The grandmothers were particularly insistent. The story as they told it was that they had given loud warnings in the distant past, and had not been listened to by their husbands. Their prescience had not been able to prevent grave harm coming to family members. And they did not want this, or anything like it, to happen again. Their dread was exaggerated perhaps, and their overlay had heated things up tremendously for their descendants. The other issue involved in the decision, was deeper, and had to do with the idea of home. ‘Where is our home’? was a question the ancestors were very familiar with. They communicated that they no longer felt a strong desire for connection coming from their descendants, after the move to the new country. They were heartsick. This was when they had begun to intervene, and demanded to be heard.

Eventually, after a thorough shamanic investigation, and some deep personal work within the family; along with a ritual to acknowledge their ancestors, this family did decide to move. It was an unbelievably quick, family decision, once the way was clear. It was like a spirit whirlwind in fact. Each family member played a part in the decision, and completed certain specific, unusual ‘spirit designated tasks’ to promote good relations with their dead, and as personal offerings for their common good as a family. One of the tasks assigned to the men was the planting of the stranded willow tree in the earth. A family that had felt so dramatically divided, that they had considered splitting up into two households to serve diverging interests, became newly united.

 

• A Melancholy Patriarch Departs

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‘Soul stuckness’ is a recurrent theme in overly responsible, dutiful, and fearful people who die unexpectedly. They can have a difficult time leaving their perceived tasks, even to transition normally!  We know that obsessive busyness can distance us from what is really occurring in our lives, and it can be true in death as well. Extraordinary but true. A stuck spiritual oddity can gather energy until it demands to be attended to. It will ‘cry out’ in strange ways for help to be allowed to transition naturally.

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A young divorced mother of two young children, C., moved back into a home she had shared before her marriage with her maternal grandparents. Her Grandfather, a beloved, old-country Italian patriarch, had passed away suddenly of a heart attack, while sitting in his new car in the closed garage. It had been five years since his death, and things had not gone well for the whole family since then. He had been the ultimate protector, the one who made everyone feel they had a family, and belonged. He also held the purse strings and helped family members out financially with loans, creating a complicated web of obligations after his death.

Shortly after C. and her children came to live in the old house, her grandmother showed signs of being seriously ill.  She went from the hospital to extended care and was not well enough to return to the house. So C. and her two children were alone there. This was when they began to experience odd influences, which made them increasingly fearful.

C. had described the house in glowing terms, as a kind of castle. This was the home her grandparents had always dreamed of and came to America to find. She described upstairs rooms that sounded enormous, full of family heirlooms and ‘treasure’, valuables of all sorts. She said she was sure ‘the uncles’, her grandfather’s unreliable brothers, were stealing valuable things from these rooms upstairs, because they were entering the house at night to do so. This nightly invasion was terrifying her and her children, who hadn’t slept solidly in months. The other odd effect of unresolved ancestral business was the constantly freezing temperature in the whole house. The thermometer never rose above 58 degrees, even when the heater’s thermostat could be heard clicking on, and inspections determined the system was functioning perfectly.

During my spirit investigations I saw that the patriarch would not yield his position as the ‘head of family’, even though he was deceased. He was also afraid of not crossing to the ‘heaven’ of his religion, because of perceived misdeeds in his youth.  He had become terribly stuck between worlds. He had a tremendous sense of obligation, a need to protect his wife, his extended family, and the house for his descendants. He was now clearly exhausted by his role, and needing to move on, but was caught in his own habitual, hyper responsibility. Spirit allies said the only way to reach him, to interrupt his preoccupations and allow him to transition, was to touch his heart by playing music: his beloved Caruso, singing his famous arias.

When I arrived at the house, I was simply stunned at the discrepancy between the granddaughter’s description and the reality. I was looking at a pleasant 1940’s stucco house, with a garage basement, and a mezzanine level, partial second story. This was the treasure trove; the castle of ancestral imagination. Two rooms upstairs were full of very odd, salvaged articles; cast offs, boxed appliances, like toasters, and piles of clothing presumably from the grandparents life. The granddaughter was living out the projection the two old people had, seeing the house as a magnificent fortress.

I was with two assistants who were drumming and burning sage in the house. And suddenly there he was, a very large man, in a black shirt and coat, sitting at the kitchen table. He was taking his medicine, counting out little white pills from a vial. I reminded him that he no longer needed those pills. He knew then why I was there, and seemed to relax.  Caruso was blaring full volume on the sound system in the living room.  And soon the patriarch was crying.  With some kind encouragement, he allowed his heart to attune to those he loved who were already gone, and I watched him leave in relief. There was an immediate palpable change in the house.

The teachers then uncovered a significant curse. A curse can vary in potency and can even be unintentional. But this one was a powerful, intentional thought-form with ill intent that followed a family member who had immigrated from the old country. This in turn affected the entire family. In the basement they reported traces of some ‘instrument’ or object he had stored there, beneath the heating unit. An object used by him, or someone else, for ‘evil purposes’.  Once the final traces were cleared, and ties appropriately severed, the heater began to work! By the time we left, the house was 70 degrees, and the granddaughter was stunned by the change she felt.

 

 

A Scottish ‘Family Shaman’ Transitions

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This story offers a stunning example of the complexities of ancestral obligations and ties to any unresolved loss or trauma, and the extent to which an individual’s difficult, personal battle with an illness, can become a cure on the soul level for ancient familial wounds.

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R. was a shamanic practitioner and a dear friend. She had been suffering from the complications of a long encounter with metastasized breast cancer. During this intense illness she began to rely on shamanic practice and spirit allies, for insight and vision around treatments and other necessary decisions. When her prognosis worsened, R. asked my partner and I to look in on her ancestry. She suspected that there was a lot of ancestral ‘baggage’ as she put it, and wanted to address it before she could no longer help with our work, or benefit from hearing the results. We all held high hopes that this intensified work might alleviate R.s prognosis of impending death.

We discovered she was part of a long line of unresolved incidents, dating back, with her combined ancestry in Scotland, to the time of Robert the Bruce. He was “King of the Scots, from 1306 until his death in 1329. Robert was one of the most famous warriors of his generation, and eventually led Scotland during the Wars of Scottish Independence against England. He fought successfully during his reign to regain Scotland’s place as an independent nation and is today remembered in Scotland as a national hero.” R.’s relations were tied to him in his quest for independence, and later to Scottish lords in allegiance with Bonny Prince Charlie, the alleged Stuart heir to the English throne in the 1700’s.

Her parents, both of Scottish ancestry, joined us in our intention to help acknowledge and clear the influence of these past events, some quite horrifying, from this time of Scottish clan wars and battles with the invading English. We were in the unusual position of having R.s elderly parents tp provide information along with our otherworldly investigations. They were able to add genealogical information and credibility, as we turned up and relayed stories. It was in some ways as though we were all together, back those times of bloody rebellion as solemn witnesses. R.’s parents were often silently incredulous at this unusual process, but clearly involved and scrupulous about the historic details. We traveled one by one through each unresolved death or deed, resolving and acknowledging the sacrifices and even misdeeds of war, with rituals and prayers. R. was obviously enlivened by this work, and at times seemed not to be ill at all.

One spirit meeting in particular stood out. My partner and I were each journeying, with R. in the room. We both encountered a sorceress in her line, who even gave us her name, and said firmly that ‘We should offer R. the hemlock!’ When I researched the origins of hemlock as a poison, and the Hemlock Society, I realized it was about choice. Her ancestor was saying R. needed to be able to choose when she would leave and how. her conscious choice was especially important for all who had gone before her: the unexpected deaths by drowning, violent deaths in battles, or from starvation and imprisonment. It was clearly R.’s prerogative to refuse certain medicines and procedures, and to leave when she felt it was time to go. I think this unexpected ancestral support relaxed her tremendously. She was in great pain sometimes, and at others completely pain free and lucid, even excited about the progress we were making. Her medication had taken away her voice and she could only whisper responses. Often when we were there she was lively, engaged and anxious to work on the line of souls before her even though her medications had reduced her voice to a whisper.

One night R.s husband, a loving, but very rational engineer, who supported her visionary inquiry, but really had no belief in it, heard a drum beating in her room in the middle of the night. He thought it odd because she had been so fatigued and it was very late. He assumed maybe R. was using a drum, which she had in the room. When he opened the door, he saw her sound asleep. The sound of the drum was clearly emanating from the center of her body. He later told us ‘we had made a believer out of him that night’. We had no knowledge of this working from afar, but shamanic healing is not tied to linear time, and we were working constantly to unravel the threads she had asked us to address.

Soon after, R. called us one evening from the hospital, where she had been moved for treatment and observation. She asked us to please ‘ramp up’ the protection around her, because she was on the basement floor with the morgue, and was being visited by spirits who did not know they were no longer in their bodies. They were not in any way threatening, but were taxing her energy and attention, as they wandered about without restraint. This is not the first time I had encountered, or heard about spirits walking the halls of hospitals, or care facilities, where people die frequently without conscious awareness of their transition. Night shift nurses at hospitals, and other attendants are very familiar with this activity as a common occurrence, though they may only talk about it with colleagues.

Our dear R. did pass eventually, peacefully at home, after completing the ancestral healing work, and on her own final say so to remove medications and breathing assistance. What we did not know at the time, was that she and the spirits were very intentionally clearing the way for another family member to leave. We were only marginally aware that R.’s father had emphysema, and was also unwell, because R. had been the family’s main focus. Her father seemed so hearty whenever we met him. To all of our amazement, he died within twenty-four hours of R.  When we asked our spirit allies about this strange double transition, they responded that R. had been enlisted in clearing the way, with our combined help, to allow a clear passage for her father and any descendants who would follow in time.

• Heavy Lifting – Atlas in a woman’s body

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Being overpowered or forced to do things beyond your control can contribute to obsessive patterns of exhaustion. “If I am in control then everything will be okay” seems to be a common thread, in men and women who have experienced abusive situations, intense grief, or been witness to traumatic injury of others.  The paradox of exhaustion and compulsive busyness is rampant in our modern world. In the ancient modalities of healing, there are tried and true methods of interrupting this limiting and unsustainable pattern, while retaining the positive life-force it holds.

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A woman, who came to see me, complained of deep exhaustion. She said she had always needed to be in charge, even when she was a small child. This was due to a strong fearful need to control her environment after abuse by a relative. She stepped in to order her world, and then extended it to the lives of those around her. Her intentions were good, and usually much appreciated, but this constant sense of needing to take care of any pressing need, drew many wounded people to her, and began to plague her with exhaustion and ill health. She had sought conventional psychiatric care and felt she had worked through so many early wounds, she could no longer talk about her past.

She had trouble trusting allies, and actually would trip up anyone offering help. It had taken years, decades really, to finally wear her resistance down, because she was so innately strong! Even when she herself asked for help in earnest, paradoxically it felt like a death sentence to give away ANY control. It confused those who loved her who often just left in frustration, or manifested problems to get her attention. She knew she was depleting herself, but this habitual need for control was so primal it trumped everything. What had triggered this intense response in her? Could it be eased for her benefit?

That conflicting soul story she was telling herself was: “I am unable to get relief.’  ‘You can’t help me because I am in charge.”

Finally, when she had come through yet another catastrophe that had demanded her full attention, energy, and ‘just about killed’ her, in her own words, we began working together to get her some relief.

A careful investigation revealed a huge ancestral ‘energy’ on both sides of her family, which demanded constant, obsessive, control of the environment. This affiliation had been passed down to her and was tied to her body through abuse and afflictions in her ancestors. When she finally could allow for a gentle investigation to occur, and began to understand the basic nature of what was driving her, the powerful compassionate spirit allies were able to sever ties with this obsessive aspect of her ancestral legacy and restore the beneficial life-force inherent in her line. Spirits also helped put in place channels for managing the considerable beneficial power of this intense life-force, so it would no longer overload her circuits!

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