Monday, December 24, 2007
Picture me , my nose pointing to the sky, talking, barking excitedly, twirling in circles, smiling past my ears, my eyes sparkling to the stars. I'm howling. Into the deep night, into the universe.
Finally, I'm writing on my two-legged's blog. Yes, it's me in the photographs on the blog.
I'm so excited. I've heard my two-legged talk about how we met thirteen years ago. She says I found her. I did. But she said, "Yes." She didn't have to.
I was trembling, slinking along the sidewalk in front of her house. I had flattened my beautiful black bushy tail up under my belly. I was terrified, on the street, escaped from a bad situation. She pulled up in her car. I stopped and looked at her. When she saw me, she turned off her car and didn't get out. I was freaked out and didn't know where I was. I felt desperate and began following a guy down to the corner. I didn't know what I was doing. I was trying to get safe, I think, but I didn't know how. I was eleven months old.
She got out of her car but when she saw me turn around at the corner and trot back, she got back in her car. Was she afraid of me? She was avoiding me. Something about her caught my interest. I stopped in front of her house and waited.
After a few minutes she got out of her car carrying her groceries and walked past me up the sidewalk and up the steps to her porch. I followed her. Her essence wafted warm and friendly. She set the groceries down and sat on the top step. I stood next to her. I felt good being near her. She looked straight in my eyes and said, "I have been thinking about getting a dog, but I'm not ready yet." She emphasized "have." I lapped her cheek. She said, "Well, okay, you can come in just for a minute."
It was weird inside--all closed in. No sky, no trees or earth to sniff. No cats or canine news. It smelled strange, sort of dead, not like something had died, just weirdly not alive. But so many things smelled like her. It was confusing. Disorienting. Still it was strange and I couldn't see the sky or smell the outside clearly. It was a closed feeling and I wanted to bolt except that she kept talking to me in such a kind way.
She showed me all around the house talking softly to me the whole time. "This is the kitchen, doggie. It's okay, you don't have to be afraid. I don't think you've ever been in a house; have you?"
I heard a song, then a screetch. There were birds in her house! One of them talked like a two-legged! She showed me where they were and I sniffed around the metal cages. She said, "This is Zeus, and this is Rip and Tig." I would come back and look closer at them later.
We went in every room and I sniffed everything. Then she took me out back behind the house. It was all grassy, trees, plants, and great squirrel and cat and bird scents. It was quiet; no cars or street sweepers. The sound of street sweepers terrifies me.
I hadn't planned on telling you all this, but it's pouring out and I think it's good if you know who I am, a little bit at least, because I was just going to leap into the whole spirit world thing and that might have been too much. You'd probably think, "Who is this crazy canine saying all this spirit stuff?"
This way you can get to know me a little and perhaps it'll help you understand some of the things I'm going to tell you. It's hard to contain myself from leaping in though: I'm so excited to be able to talk, finally. My two-legged never knew this but I called her, Sweet Scent, Kind-One, Soft Tone, Smiling-One, Hugger, Funny One, Gentle Hands, Steady Palm, Angel.
Don't get the wrong idea. She wasn't an angel all the time, but neither was I. Perhaps there'll be more on this later.
She called her friend on the phone as I sniffed the kitchen floor. "I found this dog and I don't know what to do. She's really skinny and scared. She looks like she's been on the street for a while. She's really cute."
What her friend said was, "You've been talking about getting a dog, so here she is." Angel discussed this a while, hung up, squatted down and opened her hands to me. I walked over. She stroked my head. Her palm flattened on my head. She left it
"Okay, you can stay for a few days while I look for your people."
I was relieved but I was scared, too. I never wanted to see those people again. They were not my people. I had vowed I would not ever see them again. Never.
That was the beginning of a life long partnership with Angel. Finally. We were connected. It was meant for both of us. But neither of us knew it yet. Oh, there's so much to tell. But I'm I'm going to stop here and consider what I want to say next.
Monday, September 3, 2007
Monday, April 30, 2007
When I began this blog I wrote about portals, what they are and how to access them in one's daily life.
Now let's go deeper. What about learning a core shamanic practice? The practice of "journeying."
"Journeying" refers to an altered state of consciousness that some call trance. It is a technique of travelling to non-ordinary reality to communicate with spirit helpers, especially teachers and power animals, primarily to get answers to questions and for healing.
These helpers are viewed as compassionate beings concerned with helping people solve problems, restoring harmony to the individual and to the world. For thousands of years shamans have journeyed to the spirit worlds to get help for others--healing and information. Shamans have traditionally been the people who "journey."
Years ago shamanism was systematically wiped out by many religions and governments around the world. Perhaps because shamans communicate directly with the spirit world, and are thus, outside heirarchies and outside politics, they were perceived as a threat to religions and governments.
But now, with the resurgance of shamanic practice, people other than shamans may learn to "journey." The opportunity to learn how to "journey" for oneself is a sacred gift.
One way a person may learn this ancient practice of "journeying" is by studying with with a shamanic counselor. Although derived from shamanism, the ancient practice of healing and divination, shamanic counseling is different. Unlike shamanism, in shamanic counseling there is no patient to be healed, and the counselor does not "journey" on behalf of the client.
The salient difference is that the counselor teaches the client how to "journey" on their own behalf. The clent learns how to "journey" to non-ordinary reality and with the assistance of spirit helpers they meet there, the client finds their own answers. The client learns a method of problem-solving based on "journeying."
Shamanic counseling is the radical practice of giving the reins to the client, or perhaps it is more accurate to say, "teaching the client to ride with the horse." The shamanic counselor teaches clients how to "journey" to solve their own problems--to find guidance from a compassionate source.
The compassionate beings that inhabit the Upper and Lower Worlds of non-ordinary reality are seen as experts, and in a series of sessions, the counselor teaches the client how to communicate with them directly. From an information exchange point of view, communicating directly with these beings is akin to obtaining information from a library of infinite primary sources. From an experiential point of view, communicating directly with the compassionate beings is thrilling and astounding.
In their "journeys" the client may ask questions about important issues, practical life difficulties, life's mysteries, about problems that the client has worked on but hasn't yet resolved. The client may ask anything and will receive answers.
After the client has mastered the procedures, the counselor encourages the client to practice "journeying" to the Upper and Lower Worlds to seek teachers and power animals. When the client feels comfortable "journeying" alone, they have accepted the reins and ride with the horse. They're on their way to experiencing a relationship with a radically different cosmos. A relationship in which they direct their path in a new way, bringing humane and compassionate solutions and actions to their life and to the world we live in. Compassion starts here. Outside politics. A joyous "journey" begins.
I'd love to read any comments you would like to make on this post or any of the other posts. At the bottom of each post there's a place called "Comments." If you click on that, you can write a comment in the box. When you finish, click on "Publish." That sends the comment to my email address. It does not show up on the Blog. If you'd like your comment to show on the blog, please let me know that and I'll post it under "Comments."
I look forward to hearing from you.
c Alesia Kunz
Monday, March 26, 2007
Media reports chaos: war, torture, killing, lying, profiteering from others’ misfortune, systematic neglect of people and the environment--all touted as necessary problem-solving strategies by governments around the world. Unpleasant surprises pop up. The U.S. government using a chemical weapon, white phosphorous, against Iraqi people and secretly spying on U.S. citizens. Genocide in Darfur. Displacement and death in Lebanon, Gaza, and Israel. The U.S. government continues making proclamations about Iran that look similar to those it made to justify invading Iraq. In attempting to censor the press by expanding the Espionage Act of 1917, the U.S. government attempts to curtail citizens’ first amendment rights, and has eliminated the right of Habeas Corpus for non-citizens. Ours is a problem-studded universe. A political maelstrom in which combat strategies abound.
When we question local and world leaders about the absence of compassionate strategies, we receive a myriad of answers based on the assumption that this is the nature of existence. When we suggest strategies for humane solutions, we’re told either that we don’t have all the information and therefore, that we don’t understand, or that we’re traitors for disagreeing with our governments’ policies. We’re often told that the information we need is classified. Cutting off access to information about what our governments are doing denies us the opportunity to act responsibly, to check misuse of power. A cosmology of chaos, fear, and secrecy is constructed. A political cosmology that discourages us from taking action, from being responsible participants in our lives.
Thousands of years ago many cultures had the view that a deep harmony structures all existence. An ordered existence in which people, animals, plants, and elements work together in harmony to solve problems. Even today Indigenous, religious, Buddhist, and shamanic communities use compassion as a core principle in solving problems--compassion in action.
All around the world shamans have carried on the ancient tradition of compassion in action through their effective healing and divination practice. But some religions and governments systematically wiped out this method of problem-solving by jailing and killing shamans. Is it because there are no religious or governmental intermediaries between the shaman and the source of compassionate strategies?
Although Buddhism is different from shamanism in many respects, the practice of compassion is core. In Tibet Buddhism was an essential element of the culture, as shamanism was in communities around the world. In 1959 there were more than 6,000 monasteries in Tibet. Within twenty years the Chinese government had destroyed all but eight, and had tortured and killed over 100,000 monks and nuns.
We can offer many hypotheses for the destruction of these and other communities the world over, but it appears that because it is outside politics, compassion is seditious.
Compassion is a neutralizer, offering different perspectives. Compassion counterbalances impulses of greed, domination, and fear. The more compassion fills us, the more we may be willing and able to seek kinder non-combative solutions to our personal, local, national, and world problems. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa is an example.
While governments cut off our access to information, compassionate practices encourage us to ask questions and interact in a world of infinite information, thus, offering us the opportunity to discover humane strategies and to take responsible action on our own behalf. Agency in our daily lives.
“Journeying” like a shaman to the spirit world for compassionate strategies, and thinking like the Dalai Lama won’t guarantee cessation of death, destruction, torture and war, the cynical strategies of world governments. But we can exercise our individual choice and try. Taking action can set a wave of compassion in motion, making war and destructive strategies more unsavory, thus, more difficult to employ.
Sometimes we spontaneously feel compassion. Seeing an old person struggle to cross the street, an injured animal, a person with no shelter. Global atrocities. Many of us have felt the deeply moving experience of someone expressing compassion toward us. It is an instantly transforming moment filled with grace.
We can also do specific things to activate our compassion-- think about it, talk with others about it, meditate on it, let ourselves feel, study one of the compassionate ancient traditions, start our own. We can join the beings that are devoted to helping one another solve problems, restoring harmony and health to them and slowly perhaps, to the world.
The opportunity is available to experience a radically different cosmos. A relationship in which we direct our path in a new way, bringing compassionate solutions and actions to our lives and to the world. We can continue an ancient tradition of compassion in action. The newly elected U.S. Congress has this opportunity. Will they stand up and speak compassion? Make compassion public.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this and on any other posts. If you'd like to comment, click on "Comments" at the bottom of the post. Then write in the box. When you're finished, click on "Publish." That sends your comment to my email address. It does not show up on the blog. If you would like your comment to show on the blog, let me know and I'll post it in the "Comments."
I look forward to hearing from you.
c Alesia Kunz
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
What about we just jump in? Into the world of spirits.
What is the spirit world? It's a world where spirits live. People and beings who used to live in the Middle World, where we live now, who have passed out of this world into another. Our grandparents, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, dogs, cats, trees, plants. All inhabit the spirit world.
We can talk with them. And they wish to talk with us.
The most incredible information is that the spirit world is inhabited by compassionate beings. All the spirits are compassionate beings. I have learned many things from this world but by far the most important for me is compassion. Each time I enter the spirit world I am shown compassion. As a result, my compassion blossoms. With every contact I make, the color of my compassion spreads and deepens. It is a remarable gift.
c Alesia Kunz
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Entering portals in nature. Sheri Tepper, in her science fiction novel, Grass, uses the ordinary plant, grass, as the central image, the portal into a mystical, real, thrilling and terrifying world. All kinds of grasses cover the earth like a sea-- currents waving and undulating seductively on the surface, hiding an underworld teeming with beings. Are they predators, victims, the hunted, or the hunters?
Millions of square miles of it; numberless wind-whipped tsunamis of grass, a thousand sun-lulled caribbeans of grass, a hundred rippling oceans, every ripple a gleam of scarlet or amber, emerald or turquoise, multicolored as rainbows, the colors shivering over the prairies in stripes and blotches, the grasses--some high, some low, some feathered, some straight--making their own geography as they grow. There are grass hills where the great plumes tower in masses the height of ten tall men; grass valleys where the turf is like moss, soft under the feet..."
The reader and the writer move through the portal of grass into a world of compelling, frightening, poignant relationships between humans, unfamiliar beings-- Peepers, Hippae, Hounds, Foxen-- and a plague. Humans and the environment.
Grass, like all books are, is a portal into other worlds. With each page we turn we move deeper and deeper into a fantastic landscape that provokes a visceral response. When we close the book, the green stuff that grows as lawns and on hillsides is no longer a benign prettiness, but a numinous pulsing sentient entity. We have been changed by moving through the portal.
Interacting with Nature can be like reading the novel. A complex experience, different for different people. Delicious, wonderful, terrifying, gross, soothing, provocative.
I invite you to take a chance. Walk into Nature. It's wild. In our daily material life, collaborating with Nature, like reading, is a pathway into a different world. But unlike reading a novel, collaborating with the wild is opening to the world of spirits. Moving into this world takes focus and intent. Every element in Nature is a potential portal into the world of spirits. Do we want to pass through a portal, deep into the wild, into Nature? It's a serious and thrilling step. It's worth thinking about.
If we want to collaborate with Nature, we've got to have the intent to communicate, and the focus to do it. We've got to talk. Talk with some element, force, being of Nature. Wild beings. Images of the Divine.
Communing with Nature isn't a new idea. Rather, it's newly out of fashion. Communing with the elements of nature is ancient and modern (shamans world wide for tens of thousands of years, Indigenous Peoples all over the world, American Transcendentalists).
So, how does one talk with spirits of Nature? We do it all the time. We can talk silently or we can speak out loud. Let's take a flower, for example. Stopping to look at a flower. We notice it. We admire it. We appreciate its scent, the form of the leaves, the colors, the textures. We may even talk to it. "You smell so sweet." If we're with someone we might invite them to appreciate it. "Wow, smell this!" We're communing, talking with that flower. This is a way in. A beginning. Greeting the portal.
If we're serious about going further, really wanting to know the flower, we pursue that intent, and go deeper. Just as when we want to get to know a person, it means spending time with that being, talking and listening. It requires a committment.
Talking is often easier than listening. Listening is complex. What is the language of wild beings, anyway? Can we understand it? Often we need to enter an altered state of consciousness in order to hear what Nature has to say. Why? Because we're listening to a spirit. The spirit of the flower. We need to enter their world in order to have a two-way conversation. Like picking up the telephone. Both parties need to be on the phone. Or, Instant Messaging, if we want to be connected at the same time. Or, in telepathic communications, often people open themselves at a synchronized time to transmit and receive, putting themselves in an altered state in which they share intent and focus. It's an agreement and wish to collaborate.
Collaborating with a spirit of the wild is like collaborating with a person in some ways. Getting to know them is important. Getting to know them gives us information about whether or not it's a good match. And, the being we want to work with must agree to work with us. Just as in collaborating with a person in the material world, we wouldn't just say, "I choose you," and expect that person to agree. That would be rude and presumptuous. It's the same in Nature.
Entering into the wild is thrilling. Many people have had the experience of snorkling. Picture being under water next to a reef, revelling in the brightly colored schools of fish surrounding you. Suddenly a black eel slips out from a reef in front of your face. In a flash of thrill and fear you realize that you are in their world. A wild different world. Or, when you're in the woods and you come upon a bear, or when the earth and everything around you is shaking out of control in an earthquake, you know you are in the world of Nature, a wild place.
Entering the wild, entering portals in Nature is mind expanding. Communicating and learning from wild beings, spirits of Nature, is an experience that can change you forever. If you choose to proceed, it may seem difficult at first. Listening to and hearing from the spirits of Nature is easier for some people than others. Be encouraged. Keep trying. They appreciate our efforts. Intent and focus are crucial for every kind of entry and collaboration with the wild.
c Alesia Kunz
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Everything that lives is an image of the divine. An expression of magnificence, and beauty.
We experience the divine on a daily basis, if our language reflects our reality. Let's look at paradigm cases of how we express our experience. Bring to mind hearing someone respond to something they see, hear, smell, taste, feel. "That's heavenly; that's divine." And guess what? "That's out of this world!" Common expressions, common experiences.
Nature offers infinite images of the divine. All plants, the earth, the air, animals, insects, birds, fish, fire, water. All of these manifestations of magnificence, of sentience, are potential portals.
Have you ever been transported by the scent of a rose, a hyacinth, narcisscus, rosemary, oregano, pine? Heavenly. Where do you go in those seconds of experiencing olfactory bliss? Do you remember being transfixed as a child watching ants work, spiders, snakes, a ladybug, a bee collecting pollen, a lightening bug at night? Amazing, yes? Where did you go?
Have you been transported by the flames of a fire to somewhere in your mind, you don't know where? Coming back to consciousness we realize that we've been somewhere else. At any moment we can go to an ocean beach and see people staring at the water. Often we hear people say, "I can sit for hours watching the ocean."
So, how do we collaborate with elements of Nature, images of the divine, in order to move into the spirit world?
c Alesia Kunz
Friday, January 19, 2007
Windows, doors, gates, entrances. Openings to something. Openings to other worlds. Worlds of information, worlds of animals, worlds of plants, worlds of science, medicine, art, music, sports, drama.
We choose to enter portals all the time whether they're in the material world or the virtual world. Every time we swim in the ocean, every time we walk into a new building, every time we learn how to do something, we're entering a portal in the material world. Every book is a portal. Whenever we open one, we're entering a portal into a virtual world, whether it's fiction or nonfiction
Portals are real in the sense that they are entrances to other worlds. But are the worlds beyond the portals real? How can we tell? In the realm of books, nonfiction purports to be about material world truths, facts. We still choose to believe it or not based on our experience in the material world. It gets a little dicey when we read about physics, black holes, and the Bermuda Triangle. There's a lot we don't know, and nobody knows.
What happens when we read fiction and we find ourselves weeping, laughing, terrified, elated, hopeful, or desolate? Is this experience real? Where does the experince that evoked our emotions take place? We might say we're employing Coleridge's "willing suspension of disbelief" when we open the book. Does that change anything?
In shamanism the practitioner travels through portals, that open to the spirit worlds. The practitioner learns the ancient methods of "journeying" to the worlds of the spirits for help: information and healing. The shaman brings the information back to the world she/he lives in, the Middle World, and assists in being a bridge for the spirits to come and heal people. Shamans have done healing and divination work for tens of thousands of years. Do we believe this? It doesn't matter because the healing is the evidence.
So what about these worlds of spirits?
There are so many accounts of people having near death experiences who describe finding themselves "on the other side," the place where souls or spirits go when the physical body is dropped at death. It seems the person's spirit or soul has temporarily crossed over into the world of the spirits. Spirits of people who have died. Perhaps there would be vastly divergent accounts of these experiences if they were what we call someone's "imagination." But, the accounts are strikingly similar. That suggests that a spirit world may exist.
This is the same phenomenon exists in accounts of shamans' journeys to the spirit worlds. Shamans all over the world recount strikingly similar experiences. In his book, Shamanism, Archaic Techniques of Ecstacy, Mircea Eliade, scholar of history of religion, describes the practice of shamanism over two and a half millenia all over the world. These shamans could not have known what other shamans were doing on the other side of the world.
In the first post I said anyone can access portals to other worlds. Spirit worlds.
In Louise Erdrich's novel, The Birchbark House, the protagonist, Omakayas, a young Ojibwa girl, encountering bear cubs, addresses them as "little brothers." She plays with them until suddenly she is flipped on her back and pinned by the mother bear who is breathing "on her a stale breath of decayed old deer-hides and skunk cabbages and dead mushrooms." The girl knew not to move, but when she closed her scissors, she cut a piece of the sow's fur by mistake. She calls the bear, "Nokomis," grandmother. She apologises and continues to explain why she is playing with the cubs as the mother sniffs her. There is a long passage about their communication. Omakayas has another bear encounter and talk which when her grandmother hears about it, she knows Omakayas is a healer.
In this instance the portal was opened by Omakayas addressing, acknowledging, and talking with the bears. She talks with other animals, their spirits, and receives information from them. It's interesting in her speech she acknowledges the animals and herself as part of the same family.
We can access the spirit worlds by acknowledging them. Accessing the portals. Do I mean talking to animals and plants? Yes. But talking is only a part of the process. We must listen. We must learn to listen. We can talk with spirts of people, animals, and plants that are living, and that have died. This act of acknowledgement opens the way.
Contacting the spirit world is available to everyone. One of the main entrances is through images of the divine.
c Alesia Kunz
Monday, January 15, 2007
For many years science fiction writers and readers have been fascinated by portals, opeinings to other worlds. Is it the fantasy element, transporting without moving, curiosity about what's on the other side, imagination in action, or something else that feeds our fascination?
The worlds portrayed through portals are generally fantastic. Worlds where magic happens, worlds in the historic or mythic past, future worlds, or worlds with different cosmologies.
Public school English classes in the U.S. have been offering reading experiences about portals to students for over fifty years. "The Veldt," published in 1951, written by Ray Bradbury is an example. In this short story parents have set up a play area for their children inside a portal in the house. It is a virtual reality, a jungle. The parents are warned by their psychologist not to allow the children to spend too much time inside where all of the children's wishes can manifest. The parents begin to worry that something strange is happening and the psychologist tells them to shut it down. But, when the parents threaten to shut down the portal, the chidren beg, the parents succomb. The children invite the parents in,and lock them inside where they are slaughtered by the jungle animals who have come alive. Wow!
But perhaps it's not only being virtually transported into fantastic worlds that fascinates us. Perhaps we have real world personal knowledge of portals. Perhaps this knowledge lives in our cells, a Jungian collective unconscious memory of the experience.
The experience of openings to other worlds. Spirit worlds.
Thousands of years ago people all over the world were in contact with the spirit worlds. Often their lives often depended on it. They contacted the spirits to find food and shelter. These people are our relatives, our ancestors. We have memories.
As the world moves more and more into material consciousness, we need legitimate frameworks within which to exercise and understand our other-than-material experiences. Also we need ways to save and honor our traditions. Science fiction, inadvertantly, is one of these frameworks. It legitiizes our relationship with portals. We can say, "It's speculative fiction," and no one will look at us as if we're strange. Except insofar as to read science fiction, one might be strange.
Shamanism is another such framework. An ancient tradition in which the shaman journeys through portals to other worlds to get help to do healing and divination. The shaman journeys through a portal into the spirit world to receive help from the spirits. For tens of thousands of years people all over the world have done this work. There is a movement today to preserve and continue this work. The practice of shamanism is growing.
What's really fantastic is that anyone can access portals to the spirit worlds.
c Alesia Kunz