Archive for October, 2017

The other day, I noticed my horse Tom eating goldenrod, a weed that often gets mistaken for ragweed. I hadn’t seen him do this before, so I went to the expert in all things—google—to find a long list of benefits from it. Two of which were insect bites and wounds. Tom had sustained a cut the day before and had many, many bug bites. This amazed me and was a reminder how wise animals are about their needs and the environment. We neglect that intelligence by micromanaging their behavior and limiting their choices. There are times when they can use a bit of guidance. For example, Tom is somewhat accident-prone and it may avoid injury if I suggest he not step in a hole that I see and he doesn’t. However, we disempower our animals (dogs and cats included) when we take away their power of choice, believing that as humans we know what’s best. There was probably a time when we also understood the innate benefits of the earth’s bounty without having to look it up via a book or the internet. Now, we have so separated ourselves (as a cultural generalization) from both our innate wisdom as well as the wild, that people are more afraid to eat berries directly off a bush in the woods than those sold in stores grown with pesticides.

Later on a run, I was climbing a hill. A car drove by and the driver enthusiastically gave me a thumbs up out the window (think Alan Garner from “The Hangover” in a 1988 Oldsmobile sedan). This was a kind gesture meant as encouragement and brought me a smile. It also made me feel ridiculous, for no one encourages those who are going along doing great—it is reserved for those that are struggling. There are probably people who enjoy receiving acknowledgement in such situations; I am not one of them. Somehow it got me thinking about how as kids we are told not to listen when people put us down. Simultaneously, we are expected to accept compliments. This never felt right to me—you either listen to what everyone says or to no one. Our minds aren’t able to categorize what to hear vs. what not to, mine isn’t anyway. Neither choice is right or wrong. If you listen to everyone, simply know that hearing what they say and taking it on as truth are two separate things. If you choose to listen to no one, be mindful that you are clear about what you believe.

Another Tom story; as many of you know, I work with modern shamanic practices. Typically, I lead people on their own “journeys.” On these journeys, we are often in communication with spirit animals. Yesterday I was at the barn early and didn’t see Tom as I arrived at his paddock. When I called his name, he came galloping from around the trees towards me, reminiscent of a spirit animal approaching during a journey. This reminded me of the fine line between what we call our spiritual experiences and life in the material world. Actually, there is no line, it is all the same. Compartmentalizing devalues them both. At times we may be involved in one area more than another but in the human condition exists the union of spirit and matter, thought and action, micro and macro.

These three stories may seem unrelated. I am sharing them together to illustrate the point that we alone have authority of our lives. Following your instincts may lead you to your needed nourishment. Choosing to listen to people’s encouragement, leads you to also hear other’s pessimism—be clear what is true for you. When considering your spiritual path, remember the whole human experience is spiritual, that is what makes us alive.

It’s not hard to agree that there is an emphasis on the outer in our modern world. We even assume protection needs to come from the outside—buildings, laws, rules, regulations etc. You may know what stones or crystals will keep you ‘safe’ or the right prayers and incantations to bring light or a “system” to tell you who you are. What if we found protection and wisdom from within? What if what we choose without thought is exactly what we really need, like Tom eating Goldenrod. Wouldn’t that be of great value and less stressful than constantly checking with outside sources about what is right? We can examine astrology, consult books or go to workshops with the finest teachers, yet at the end of the day it is our selves alone living our life. Any system becomes a path of conditioning if we follow it without questioning how it applies to what we experience as our inner wisdom. Information is available at our fingertips, let us not confuse that with having sagacity. We can hide from our vulnerability in that knowledge. Leading a genuine life, one of my goals, takes regular clearing. This is what “being in the moment” or “present” means. For it isn’t just about time and space, but also clarity.

On November 6th, I’ll be presenting “Find Your Inner Shaman: The Way to Awaken Your Power” for SIMEN at the Saratoga Springs Library at 6:30. We will tap our personal wisdom and experience how to discern our truth. Looking forward to seeing you there.


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