Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Reframing the Past

This summer I was one of 13 artists participating in a group show entitled Faces and Figures at the Artisan Enterprise Center in Covington, Kentucky. This was the first exhibit I had been a part of in over twenty years, so I was pretty excited. But I have also not really produced any significant painting or drawing since the late 80's, so it was a selection of those pieces created in the midst of my healing crisis that were taken out of storage, put behind glass and given a public viewing.

The process of dragging these old remnants of my inner struggles into the light understandably offered me the opportunity to revisit those experiences from the present perspective. This allowed me a brief period of glowing appreciation of how far I've come and how much happier, healthier and more whole I am than I was as the clinically depressed art student, who dressed in black and smoked too much. Deeper introspection revealed that most of the shadows I had carefully stored away had left some residue behind. Those remains no longer run my life, but it was good to have them brought to my attention. It took a few weeks of work to clear away what I could.

Choosing frames for the art was easy - cheap and black. The process of doing so led me to thinking of how I was reframing those old outpourings of my soul, and then putting them on display. This is not such a bad thing to do. A little self-disclosure is a good means of reminding us who we are and where we come from.

The framed pieces are back in my basement again, awaiting their next outing – or perhaps a collector of expressionist art? They have served to remind me of how my past inhabits my present and to inspire me to create some new works of art that I can look back on in the future to remind me of my journey.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Dance of Stones – second edition!

Back in 1998 I took a road trip with a friend from Germany. At the time, I was trying to come up with a way of writing a book on shamanism that wouldn't be "just another book on shamanism." A couple days into the trip, with my friend constantly asking questions about my work, I realized that this a an excellent opportunity, and started keeping better notes. The journey took us to some powerful places, both in the outer world as well as the inner. The experiences were pivotal to my own growth and realization, and they seemed to have an impact on my friend as well. We followed the signs if synchronicity across through Brittany and across the Channel to Cornwall. At each turn, the spirits welcomed us with new opportunities for deepening.

Ten years later I published Dance of Stones: A Shamanic Road Trip, and now it is being released in a second edition from the good folks at Moon Books. Later this year, they will also be releasing my second book, Post-Tribal Shamanism: A New Look at the Old Ways.

Dance of Stones succeeded in doing everything that I had hoped. It expressed the foundation teachings of post-tribal shamanism in and accessible and coherent way. It allowed the reader to begin his or her own journey into their exploration of the deeper parts of self. It also received excellent reviews, sold much better than could have been expected and opened up doors that have allowed me to expand my teaching practice. With the re-release, I hope to be able to extend the reach of post-tribal shamanism to an even wider audience.

These teachings are need in the world today. With the various crisis of society, earth and soul that each of us are going through, it is essential to reconnect with those things that nurture our souls. The journey we took through Cornwall is only one facet of the larger fractal that we are all embarked upon. I invite those who have not yet taken this journey to join me as we set off for a deeper place within us.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

the Unparented Parent

In my work as a shaman, I have been aware for awhile that – at least at a soul level – all parents love their children and all children love their parents. This begs the question of, if this is so, why do so many parents and children have such a conflicted relationship?

Having observed a great many of these parent child relationships in the healing process, I see a number of reasons for this failure of mutual trust, respect and regard. I will address one of the most common causes, which I call the Unparented Parent.

All too often in our culture, due to abandonment, death, illness or absence, children do not have a competent parent available to them in their formative years. In combination with chronic low-level traumatic stress, this can derail the emotional maturity of the child, leaving them stranded in a childish state, often for the rest of their lives. They have not received competent parenting themselves and so, when they become parents, their child is constantly in competition with that inner aspect of their child self, who still seeks the nurturing of a parent. This can lead to behaviors that appear narcissistic and inappropriate, because the un-parented child aspect of the parent is desperately trying to get his or her own needs met, and can feel very resentful and fearful of the infant that is now receiving the attention, caring, nourishment and nurturing that they feel they were denied.

This can become a trans-grenerational cycle that can inflict its wounds time and again. However this cycle can be broken by those rare adults who engage their own healing process fully, reintegrating their wounded child aspects, before becoming parents themselves.

Much of the shamanic work I do with my clients is directed at this sort of healing soul level wounds that reach back over many generations, usually to a parent who was lost to war, illness or other life trauma, leaving a family bereft.

The good news is that these wounds can and do heal. It is not to late for that child to finally receive the parenting he or she needs. What may be hard for some to hear, is that that parent needs to be you.