Tuesday, December 4, 2007

December Shamanism Gifts



Shamanism is a spiritual practice that honors the Earth and all of her inhabitants including plants, stones, winged creatures, those who swim, four leggeds and two leggeds, as well as all of nature including the great Star Nation and our sun, moon, and planets. Shamanism is practiced by indigenous peoples throughout North and South America and has roots in Mayan and Native American culture.

In practicing shamanism, the medicine worker seeks ways to connect with the natural world and import meaning from the experience. Various methods are available to the Shaman to find guidance for specific questions or issues, including power animals and journeying.


One method of divining personal messages of significance is through animal totems, or power animals. An individual’s animal totem may come to him through a dream, by visitation in the physical world, or by other representations such as an affinity for a particular piece of art depicting an animal. Power animals may come for a specific time or may remain with an individual for a lifetime.
For December, students of astrology in the United States typically associate the power animal Horse or Centaur, associated with the sign Sagittarius. The Native American power animal for the month of December is also the horse. The horse is one of the most important animals in both our spiritual and developmental history and is deserving of much honor and respect.
The horse symbolizes freedom, resistance to boundaries, but also the power that comes from proper use of your own freedom. Horse medicine workers know how to stand in their own power and are often sought out by those seeking to learn the ways of self empowerment. Those with the horse totem may be excellent teachers, as long as the student is respectful of the independent nature of the horse. Horse medicine workers are often deeply connected with spirit in their own right, without relying on a teacher or mentor.
Despite their need for freedom, the horse has always been a great friend to mankind. They have helped us in our physical work by carrying us over vast stretches of land and pulling wagons and carts. They have assisted us in our spiritual work by being patient teachers who help us gain personal strength and cross new frontiers.
If horse has come to you, you are being offered a gift of safe movement into new physical or spiritual space. Horse will help you in your quest. The shadow side of horse is to be independent to the point of becoming unable to live within society at large, or of driving others away. Always remember the dual nature of independence and assistance.
The Centaur totem of the month, while mostly manifesting through Horse for animal work, connects in both astrology and shamanism through the kind and wise Centaur Chiron. Though most centaurs were raucous, wild-living beings, Chiron was intelligent, kind, and a great teacher. He was a talented healer and respected oracle. Chiron is said to have sacrificed his life to allow humans to obtain the use of fire. Through fire, shamans are able to cleanse dense energies. Fire ceremony is an important part of shamanic practices; it is conducted to offer healing to a community, the land it is performed on, and offered up for the healing of Pachamama as our communal home. The intentions brought forward in the fire ceremony are those of deep healing for all those in attendance and for Mother Earth Herself.
While horse energy seems predominant in December, those interested in the Mayan calendar may notice an affinity for Turkey or for the Alligator/Lizard depending on the time of the month. Turkey offers us the gift of renewal, as their numbers were decimated in the wild but they have resurged in captivity. This also manifests in recurring themes throughout their lives. The most notable feature of the Lizard is the ability to escape certain dangerous situations by breaking off its tail. This teaches those with the lizard medicine totem that leaving behind a part of oneself that no longer serves is a valuable lesson. But the lizard can do this only once, as the new tail regrows from cartilage. Choose wisely when to exercise your power.


Another shamanic practice for determining personal and worldly messages is the Journey. Typically, a shamanic journey will be induced by rhythmic drumming that alters the energetic vibration and allows a shift in consciousness for the shaman. The shaman enters this state when seeking guidance for a particular question.

In preparing for this column, I opened sacred space and journeyed and asked for a message for the month of December. In keeping with the power animals at work this month, I chose to call on the Horse spirit to be my guide. At first, I rode very fast on horse’s back across an empty plain, with a joy of feeling that we were riding towards something, not away from. We came to a heavily forested area, and I had to get down and lead horse gently through the trees. The message of this journey came as knowing the difference between a time for using your power for celebrating freedom and not trampling into danger. Also, appreciate the shift in balance of power between leading and being led.


Shamanic practitioners also must take care to protect themselves during times of strife and vulnerability.

For readers who will celebrate Christmas, Hanukah, or Kwanza this December, there may be gatherings of families which may bring great joy and time for celebration. However, with all of the activity comes opportunities for nervousness and discomfort. Whether you are ill at ease with crowds, travel, finances, or certain family members, shamanic practice allows you to seek comfort from the support nature offers us.

Find a quiet place to sit for a moment, and perhaps play some rhythmic music. Still your mind. Breathe in deeply and imagine the sun spinning clockwise in your belly, warming you, providing you with all the strength that you need. As you breathe out release all tension, all energy that is not as pure and light as the sun itself. Breathe in and imagine the sun getting hotter, breathe out and the sun grows bigger, until you are encompassed by the warmth and glow of the sun.

Now that you have renewed your connection with the sun, take comfort in knowing that wherever you travel, whatever challenges you face, the sun will rise for you tomorrow to light your path. Tap into that connection whenever you feel vulnerable to gain strength.

Dreaming for the world to come

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