Harvest: Partnering with the Source and Serving Life
’I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.’
We’ve already been on quite a shamanic journey together. We started by building the foundations for encountering the Inner Shaman. We then empowered them through practice. And we undertook a deep enquiry into how they could help us take responsibility for that power. We worked to build a strong bridge between the imaginal world and the physical world and to recognize the ways in which we are the masters of our own perception through the stories we tell.
I’m sure you’ve noticed that relationship has been at the heart of our work. In all the rituals we do in our work, we include all of what we call the Five Dimensions of Relationship. We’ve already worked with the first four. We’ve deepened our relationship with ourselves (First Dimension), with others (Second Dimension), with the community of life (Third Dimension) and with the imaginal world (Fourth Dimension). The Fifth Dimension of relationship is the one that encompasses all the previous four: the Inner Shaman’s relationship with the Great Mystery, God, the Creator. Deepening this relationship is the focus now. Welcome to the harvest!
You already know that shamanic practice isn’t rooted in belief, but in direct experience that can be validated and put into context by our guides, both human and imaginal. So I won’t be asking you to believe in anything. As always, I will be asking you to take the time to find out what is true for you and go on deepening your enquiry through the ongoing cycle of encounter, empowerment, responsibility and now harvest. This whole journey is structured to allow you to be guided by your Inner Shaman as you come closer to your own nature and to the great teacher that is nature itself. I once told a long-term apprentice that you couldn’t learn shamanism from a book. (The Great Spirit clearly has a sense of humour!) It’s true. Whatever you learn through these pages and through your embodied practice, at some point, to go deeper, you must take your practice out into the wild.
Nature is the great mirror because when we humans allow it to follow its course, everything in it is simply itself. Can you imagine the liberation and the joy you would experience if you, too, could learn to trust yourself enough to be who you are?
From a shamanic perspective, nature is the intelligence of the Great Spirit in physical form. It is the marriage of matter and spirit. Your body is made from the same material and animated by the same intelligence. When you reclaim that territory as your own, as you have been doing on our journey so far, then your spirit and all that it dreams can land firmly on this Earth and give what it came here to give.
All shamans who have chosen to serve life do so by partnering with the source. They understand that dreams that serve life grow in accordance with the seasons and the cycles of life and that their own journey through life is one such cycle. So in this next stage of our journey, we will look into how you can go on developing the abilities and skills of your Inner Shaman through looking at your life as an initiatory journey.
You will learn more about how you can enhance your experience of the present through changing the meaning you have taken from the past. You will have the chance to harvest more medicine and personal allies from the events that have made you who you are. Moving forward, we will also look at the future as a canvas on which to map the path to fulfilling your Inner Shaman’s potential in this lifetime.
The last two chapters will bring in the harvest of our work, as we look more deeply into the Inner Shaman’s relationship with the divine and invite them to leap into the embrace of the Great Mystery. For me, that place is a refuge. It is the still point in the storm of life where I can let everything go, even myself, and let God. Yes, I know — God is a really tricky word with a really tricky history. I didn’t use it for decades because so many of the ways it had been used were in direct opposition to everything I stood for. But recently I’ve felt a strong need to reclaim the word, so sometimes I do. It makes my ancestors happy and it has power.
I very much appreciate the magnificent variety of religious and spiritual traditions that we have created, and the care, community, comfort and direct experience of the divine they have brought to so many. Sadly, fundamentalists of every description continue to pursue the mistaken idea that faith means telling everyone else how they should pray, eat, make love and celebrate life, and even what day and time to do it on.
Perhaps it’s just the way we’ve evolved, but for a very long time in our human story, we’ve marched onto battlefields, certainty pumping through our veins, clinging to our symbol of divine support for whatever one-dimensional dogmatic polarity we’re imprisoned in, to impose our particular idea of God’s will on any number of infidels and ram our beliefs as far down one another ’s throats as we can reach.
To imagine that this activity has anything to do with either genuine faith or the divine is delusion of the highest order. It does, however, have everything to do with politics, power in service of the ego and simple human greed. And it’s time we moved on. Wanting to share our good fortune with those we believe to be less fortunate is a beautiful thing. But thinking that we must impose our idea of God’s gender, colour, laws and rituals on others just limits our potential access to the limitless. And if we truly have faith in our experience, we’ll have no need to impose it on anyone.
From a shamanic perspective, God is what Anna in the beautiful book Mr God, This is Anna called ’an infinite number of viewing points’. Our experience of the divine is exactly and precisely who we are. Nothing more, nothing less. For shamans the world over, the divine is both right here with us in physical form in nature and out as far as the spirit can travel at the very edge of this expanding universe. It is the massive generosity of the Great Mother under our feet. It is visible in the murmuration of a flock of swallows. It is the melody of a stream and the mystery of a shooting star. It is everywhere and everything. It is beyond polarity. It is the creative embrace of opposites. And in these times, when people and ideas are continuing to polarize, to the devastating detriment of the fabric of life, the connection to the one power in us and beyond us that can alchemize all apparent opposites into one magnificent unity seems to me to be needed more than ever.
I know that there is a thirst in me that can only be quenched by the waters from this oasis. In our last chapters, I’ll invite you to be in dialogue with the divine so that you too can discover and deepen your access to this refuge, learn more about who you are and, like any Inner Shaman worth their salt, commit fully to serving life.