By John Flynn
Jose and Lena Stevens of The PowerPath have said many times in lectures and writings, ‘never accept appearances, nothing is ever as it appears’. I certainly got a taste of that experience recently. What I thought was going to be a trip where a couple of friends and I who share a shamanic connection would have a good time, turned out to be more than I bargained for. It was a trip of deep healing, acceptance, forgiveness and love.
For sometime I have wanted to write an article about forgiveness and how it ties into shamanism, the following provided the perfect opportunity.
Two very dear friends and I decided to spend a day hiking part of the Sawtooth National Forest in Idaho. It was a day filled with ceremony calling in all the wisdom, power and beauty of this magnificent place.
It was extraordinary and touching to experience three men speak truthfully and openly of deep wounds and the affect these experiences have had on our lives. One man spoke of the last time he wept openly was when his dog died, his sharing brought a flood of tears and deep healing for him. Another of the sadness and deep sorrow he feels over the loss of a friendship. We shared other experiences, allowing ourselves to feel the loneliness and isolation we as men have so often created by repressing our feelings.
What I would like to share here is the affect an incident had on my life and how this experience with these two friends helped facilitate an opening for acceptance, healing and forgiveness.
Just over a year ago, I witnessed an incident, which was both shocking and horrifying. It left me stunned and in denial, shaking the foundations of the shamanic path I stand on. It left me deeply disappointed and I felt furious, betrayed, and bewildered. On top of that, because I didn’t hold my friend accountable in the moment, it added to my already overtaxed emotional state. From that time, it started to take a toll on me. My back went out, and I was having other physical symptoms.
These bodily ailments hid a deep wound carried from childhood. My awareness of this had a profound affect allowing me to touch something I refused to acknowledge, the heartbreak I felt over my relationship with my mother. Due to her wounding, my mother carried a heavy pain body and would lash out from that place. But out of my socialized respect for her, I could not hold her accountable for the disrespect she heaped on me even as a young man. I distanced myself, hurting her in response. I also recognized feelings of overwhelming sadness and despair carried from an Irish culture that has experienced centuries of conflict and domination. My refusal to speak to my friend about the incident was anchored by these emotions carried from childhood which were manifesting as acquiescence because of social programing
In the high mountains of Idaho, I was shown the effect this was having on me. I was shut down and angry, and refusing to admit it to myself. I was agitated and blocked. I needed help. Even thought my friends were present, I felt called by the river. I stepped into the river to splash my face and clear my head and the icy mountain waters began to wash away the pain I felt. My heart began to open. As I began to relax and invite in the teachings of the Spirit of the mountains, high pastures and river, I saw that the incident with my friend was actually a teaching from Spirit. I was being offered lessons on loving and forgiving myself, my mother and others, as well as owning and accepting my past that I had deemed too painful to acknowledge before now. My refusal to accept what had happened and forgive had cost me, physically and emotionally. I kept those I judged outside of love and in doing so kept myself separate. I felt justified and righteous, but it kept me from the one thing I wanted most, love and connection.
Since returning from that adventure, I have noticed that the teachings continue. The ‘rabbit hole goes deeper’ so to speak. This was a deep healing of my Spirit, and the message I needed to hear was to heal the deep betrayal and disappointment I carried from childhood, provided in the perfect way and with exact timing by Spirit. The emotional turmoil I felt around the incident fell away and I saw that what is left is acceptance, forgiveness and love.
Jose Stevens of The Power Path, describes the shamanic path as ‘The path of Spirit’. We are all aspects of the one Divine Intelligence that creates all life in its many forms.
My interpretation of this is to practice seeing Spirit in everything. If I can hold to the truth that it is all orchestrated by Spirit then there is space for acceptance and forgiveness to enter. When I meet someone, do I see their essence first and the personality second? when I look at a flower am I sensing its presence, the consciousness that pervades its existence? This practice has allowed me to begin to remove massive boulders that have stood in my way.
The shamanic path is a journey of self-examination. It begins with myself and those around me are mirrors reflecting back what I need to see. Fortunately, there is help everywhere. Allies exist all around us in trees, plants, rocks, mountains, rushing icy cold rivers, our feelings, etc. These are tools that can guide us back to our hearts and to love.
All we have to do is ask for help.