By John Flynn
As a shamanic practitioner, my relationship to the tools I use is of vital importance. Let me back up to explain this statement. I start with the understanding that during a healing session, any healing that takes place is done by Spirit or God, whatever label I wish to call this universal energy. My tools are actually allies, living extensions of Spirit that are helpers, teachers, and guides. They represent a living relationship that requires gratitude and respect. For example, if Bear is an ally I call on for healing and support, then I must honor and respect this living extension of Spirit before I ask it to help.
My job as a practitioner is to literally get out of the way and be as clear a channel as possible; this is referred to as becoming a ‘Hollow Bone’ in many indigenous cultures.
My relationship to the natural world is a key factor here. I am a part of the natural world, as are all of us, which despite our best efforts to deny, we are, and always will be, part of the world of Nature. Being a part of this world, I can call on Nature for assistance.
Another premise is the belief that the animals, birds, and plants – all of nature is here to serve Spirit, and since we are a part of Spirit, these elementals can be called on to serve as healers and teachers.
Now this asks the question, ‘how can an animal or bird act as a healer or teacher’? Shamans the world over have learned to communicate with the natural world through observation and meditation. Since they view everything as Spirit in form, it follows that communication exchange is a natural next step. Some animals are healers, think of Vulture. It cleans up dead carrion, so would it not make sense to ask Vulture in helping to clean up old or dead stuck energy.
Think of an animal that represents power. For some it may be a Bear, for others a Tiger or Eagle. It follows then, if you wish to learn about power and how to be in relationship to it, an animal or bird that most represents that for you is whom you need to call on. Nature does not have ego. It is consciousness and is available to all who come with humbleness and respect. It will teach at the level of consciousness it is approached from. Some of the benefits of a deepening relationship to Spirit/Nature are a sense of connection, better health and overall feeling of wellness.
An ally I would like to honor in this article is the ‘River Eagle’. The River Eagle is a bird of prey that lives along the rivers of the jungles of Central and South America. It is a member of the Harpy Eagle family. In his book, Birds of Colombia, Steven Hilty calls the Harpy the ‘world’s most powerful bird of prey’. Reading about where it lives, how it lives, and its way of life is important in understanding this ally. Early European explorers in South America named the harpy eagle from a Greek word, referring either to a raptorial bird or a mythical monster. Scholars of ancient Greece, such as Aristotle, mention a bird of prey, harpe, perhaps referring to an eagle. In Greek mythology, a harpy was a winged wind spirit that took the dead to the underworld, Hades. I see this extraordinary ally as a carrier of light and a powerful healer removing what no longer serves the highest good.
In summary, allies are all around us, knocking us over the head and whispering in our ears, wake up, pay attention, and stay present. Our job is to be aware of this and ask for help from Spirit.