Finding Myself in Time: Facing the Music
"You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one."
-- John Lennon
"I was born in this garden, and the flowers have grown into the soles of my feet."-- From an early poem by the author
Prologue, Part 1 -- Taking my gloves off
In this memoir I am taking my gloves off. I didn't know I was wearing gloves until recently, when I started working with some extraordinary local college students who were interested in shamanism, who began asking questions about topics that I am not used to discussing in depth, or I guess I mean, explaining. Until these students entered my life, nobody ever expressed more than passing curiosity about shamanic experiences or, however we choose to refer to them -- spiritual, or psychic, non-ordinary or visionary experiences - mine or theirs or somebody else's. These students were pushing to know what I know, instead of just using me to help them fill in the gaps of what they need to know to pass or graduate. I am used to people touching on very profound questions and then casually changing the subject, as if all subjects of conversation are equal!
I am not a shaman. I am a shamanic practitioner and a veteran dream worker. I have worked with and studied under shamans and I have entered shamanic spaces on vision quests and in ritual and I will say this about the shamanic calling: It is difficult to sustain in a materialistic, money-based culture that treats land as a resource and real estate and suppresses and exploits nature. Anyone (American) who pays taxes and lives a life of privilege is unlikely to be able to sustain a shamanic calling. Shamanism is not an avocation. It's not part-time; you can't turn it on and off. It is a time-honored way of life, and even in stable, healthy indigenous cultures where shamans are still the healers, being a shaman requires enormous personal sacrifice. It is much easier to be a dream worker than a shamanic practitioner. Thanks to Jung, who single-handedly restored soul to psychology, and painstakingly introduced archetypes and synchronicity to the Western world, dreams have opened many doors for me over the years, and have helped me stay in touch with my own soul. The kind of dream work I do is also a calling. I did not choose to work with dreams. I was a born dreamer, and I expect to die dreaming. Dreaming is very old, as old as the human race, as old as shamanism. But I am careful not to confuse dream work with shamanism.