Ten years ago, if someone would have told me I'd be doing shamanic healing work, I'd have laughed at them. I do serious work, I'd have told them. I meditate, do deep energywork, systematically analyze and remove the Untrue from my body/mind/heart/spirit. I don't play head games, do make believe, conjure up fairy tales around talking animals. But then I woke up to the fact that it's all a head game, every single thing we believe is reality, the western and the eastern, the Matriarchal Age, The Patriarchal Age, The New Age, all of it. And I saw the machine that makes it appear so real: mass consensus.
This mass consensus? Wildly popular, but not so reliable. Mayan priests sacrificing hundreds of people a day, the kings personally opening up a small vein as a show of fealty to their gods, because their gods needed blood to survive. Soulmates. Western medicine pharmaceuticals as clinically proven effective method for the treatment of chronic disease. Women, cattle, and people from foreign lands bought and sold to be used as organic machines. Buy Green. Placebo as another word for wishful thinking. All you need is Love. Cancer is born at the nexus of environmental factors, heredity, and poor self-esteem.
Mass consensus, like a virus, propagates itself by saturating us with interpretations, of stories, from the moment we're born, continuing throughout our life, layering on the latest update in the tales called reality, the newest flavor of faux presented as fabulous and/or cutting edge. Why? Because we're built to find meaning at the confluence of our six senses and the ever-evolving consciousness existing in all three brains - the grey matter housed in the skull, the central nervous system, and the digestive tract.
Of course, there's the hard-wiring. The physical/energetic chains of DNA carrying the coding for things like the ability to store fat, or protection of our progeny coded into behavior via hormones like oxytocin. Or the neural mapping we're born with that adapts as we grow, like mistrust of strangers. (There's actually a large portion of the brain that is used for face recognition, which is why we generally feel more trusting of human faces like our own, like we've grown up with, and less trusting of different species.) A behavior like mistrust is the result of a chain of neural connections that rose from animals having more of this short bit of programming surviving to bear offspring more often than those that didn't. And if this behavior is reinforced during childhood, it's ramped up in different ways, and viola: racism, sexism, xenophobia, speciesism, etc.
All living beings are born with and develop hundreds of thousands of these small "programs", programs that are part of survival (survival defined as permission to be one of the select organisms that gets to breathe and eat and cruise around long enough to propagate). Supposedly, humans are at the driving tip of evolution, with the pinnacle of humanhood - a kind of Human Adulthood - made up of qualities we value as most highly evolved, a kind of Higher Programming, such as kindness, selflessness, humility, joyfulness, humor, emotional intelligence, etc.
And from what I can gather, from my own experience, what I've witnessed, Waking Up/Enlightenment is breaking out (or being ejected out) of the programming, all of it. Here, the rubber meets the road, the Human meets Beyond Human. And at this place, a few years ago, at this edge of Human, where hardwired programming is seen for the intellectual and emotional coding it is, I found myself dumped out on the front lawn.
And for a very very long time, I sat there on that front lawn, sat there and wondered: what the f*ck happens now? When all of "reality" is finally seen as only story, as something we all got together and made up, what the heck do you do? How do you eat? How do you keep a roof over your head? How do you interact with the billions of humans crawling all over this planet, with their varying hardcore beliefs in This or That portion of the made up story? What's the point in any of it? There's no more striving for dominance or mating for biological superiority or even trying to make the world a better place. So what do you do? Do you just lay down and die?
There was no one for me to ask. The ability to connect with other humans, even so-called Enlightened Folks, had been severed (by Fate? Life? God? I've no clue - only that it did, that it dang skippy did) I could hold no conversations, sign up for instructional classes, read applicable how-to books, throw myself on the mercy of Seasoned Teachers. I spent several years looking for something, anything, anyone. Then I Got It. There was only one direction left: Inward.
And so I turned inside and asked: so what the f*ck? What the freak is going on? What the heck do I do with this body, this mind, this time? And in a series of alternating hilarious and horrifying 3-D experiential images, what I saw was story, all the story collected inside of me, clinging in clumps to organs, crackling like downed power lines along nerve pathways, tucked away in tiny packets, hiding amongst the fat cells. And at this point, I picked up the only remaining tool I had left to go ferret these stories out, the tool known currently as shamanism, which is a Siberian word for "one who sees in the dark" but what really just means Someone Who Heals By Telling Stories.
This delighted me! So perfect, so full of Yes! Because I love stories. I'm obsessed with them. I have been all my life. Seeing them, hearing them, creating them, passing them on. Stories? Really? The last piece is about simultaneously observing, deconstructing, and swimming in the stories? Awesome!
Because I'm built for stories. To read, to tell, to watch, to write. Observe: I have a memory of a past life (although I'm not sure whether past lives exist, only that I have memories of dozens of what appear to be past lives). In the memory, which is no more than a few moments, I'm walking through a forest, but not as I would now. In it, as I walk, I'm reading the forest, as if it were a book, listening to it as I would to a person telling me an intricate tale of adventure, every single seemingly minute aspect telling me a story about what happened yesterday, the year before, what the present story of the forest is. I can tell from the color of the bark on the tree what precise time of year it is, what the rainfall has been like, the quality of sunlight. The sounds, of birds and wind, the rustle of branches and forest floor, tell me who is there, what they're doing. All of it, the layers of sights, smells, sounds, the feel of the soil underfoot, all of it like words, sentences, chapters, full of meaning that connects deeply inside of me. In the memory, it's thousands of details, bits of data, and I'm assimilating them all in a hot second, because that is what I do automatically, after living my whole life in the forest. I know the language of the forest, and I read each new moment, eagerly and efficiently, with an open mind and heart and body.
In this life, by the age of thirty-one, I'd become the type of Serious Granolahead who was pointedly going about erasing her story, because she was told and she believed stories were bad and unelightened and stupid and a ruse. There was a rigidity to it, thundering judgment about every single tale coming out of my mouth, ridicule for the sorts of tales other people told. My way was the best way, the only way, and other people were deluded, less than. I was more spiritual, would be enlightened first. They were still telling themselves silly stories of The Sky God or Archangel Michael or The Ancient Alien Arturis from the Pleiades who gave them accurate information on what vitamins and supplements they needed to take. I was beyond all that bullsh*t, and I righteously displayed my sneer to those I deemed Sadly Lost In Their Story.
Then, six years ago, the time release bomb began going off, lighting up every single aspect of this story called Katherine, this world called the twenty-first century, this nothing called Enlightenment, this fallacy called reality. It broke me down in ways that peeled my brain like an old potato, shattered my heart like a shorted out light bulb, tore my mind apart as if it were cobwebs, wracked my body with illnesses, injuries, painful structural misalignments. Save for enough of a sliver to stay alive, it destroyed every single aspect of my living, what I knew as reality. And when, in exhaustion and defeat, I let go, when I finally stopped fighting and let freefall take me, where I ended up was loosely draped across the remaining timbers of my structure, this life and personality known as Katherine. What was left was a kind of elemental way of being in the world.
I'd done thousands of shamanic journeys, visualizations, meditations, etc., over the past 25 years or so, but they were never more than a kind of spiritual weight-lifting, designed to Power Me To Enlightenment. But after The Bomb, I began journeying for survival skills, as a way to literally get info and insight on how to stay physically alive after The Kaboom, after all ties with other humans were cut off and I had no way to get help outside myself. And it turned out that shamanic journeys were in perfect alignment with how basic, how elemental my experience of living felt. The basic premise of journeying is that you close your eyes, listen to drumming, and let it take you where it takes you. Behind your eyes, out of the darkness rises color, movement, then story. It is the story of you, of the world, of the ancients and the aliens. It's fascinating and magical, and it's practical and cut and dried. It's a place to go for answers.
I do the Shaman Thing because at it's core, it's straightforward story, told in a way that any brain can wrap itself around. It's birth and death, sensation and intuition, sun and moon. It's animals and people and strange and beautiful hybrids. It's visions of past lives that fit so precisely, so intricately as a mirror to the present that it's breathtaking. It's the dark forces of living that try to f*ck with you, spiders with thick sticky webs and snakes with deep fangs. It's light forces of Yes beaming love and sweetness, smiling skeletons, spiders that show the web of All Life and your place in it, caduceus snakes that twine together to show how duality works, or the ouroboros eating its own tail to reveal secrets of renewal and re-creation.
Of course it's created story. It's the remaining bits of Katherine connecting to the stories of all Creation. It's taking vibration (a quality of energy like whirring or imbalance) and translating it into a material that can be worked with while still cruising around as a human (stories!). And from this elemental place I operate out of, it's the simplest, most straightforward connection between the Nothing and Being On This Planet.
I don't identify much with people anymore. When I get a shock of recognition, I'm most often looking at my nettle plant, or into Emmaline's sparkly eyes, or at one of Malcolm's dastardly deeds, or at a bee pulling nectar from a flower, or feeling the sun on my face. But I no longer have contempt for people. The sneer is gone. I feel an incredible love for them (even as I still may feel a bit skeeved at particularly noxious ego runoff they fling around, but this is only because of those leftover chunks of stored past inside of me, and they're less every day, and it sort of feels like an occupational hazard, like being a nurse and encountering bodily fluids, no way around it, it's just the dealio).
I do the Shaman Thing because it acts as an outrageously effective translator. It's a place to go for answers, have a few laughs about What The Heck Is Really Going On behind this thing we called the world. I also do it because it utilizes the odd mix of expertise I've developed that still remains - the psychic ability, the energywork healing skills, the knowledge of both holistic and scientific languaging and images - intertwining them in a way that enables me to make a living (which we all need to do), contribute to the Yes (which is fun, like dancing), learn more about the Human Adulthood of evolution (which is fascinating). Mostly, though, I do it because it's the only thing left to do that I can do. Everything else has fallen away. Hiveworld, psychic readings, this blog, life with kitties, soul retrievals: it's all the Shaman Thing.
Supposedly, enlightenment means the end of story. But from the (supposedly) enlightened folks I've met, read about, their story goes on, even if they're not attached to it anymore. And for now, the story of Katherine is elemental, pared down, growing more simple and straightforward every day.
Integral Shamanics. Standing in the world, but diving into the worlds behind it. Soul retrievals using a hybrid of shamanic reality and high-technology. Resident feline power animals and those furry and feathered and scaled friends who meet me in shamanic reality. Doing deep transformative work with film makers and house painters and psychologists and restaurant managers and government agents and stay at home moms and mortgage brokers and accountants and writers and healers and stylists and carpenters and on and on and on. Who knows why we end up with what we have left? This, for now, is what's left in this life. The Shaman Thing.
Slowly, bit by bit, the world is falling away, but what's still showing up is the Shaman Thing. When Katherine is completely ferreted out, smooched and said adios to for the final time, the shell that remains will probably be the Shaman Thing. I'm so grateful. Because it come with tremendous freedom and versatility, but mostly because it's so much dang fun . . .