Posted in gardening, Healing, Initiation, Spirituality, yard work on July 31, 2014 by Standing West

Still alive.

Still digging.

Moles and bats keeping me company as I finish the yard work with the setting of the sun. Chopping wood. Picking tomatoes. Watering the raspberry canes. The strawberries are in and the garlic hangs in the crawlspace.

Attention turns to preparation for the long journey within. Shadowy things, for decades labelled “enemy” are finally called to dance their wisdom to the steady beat of the drum, while the body opens itself to the lesson.

Our elders are walking a little slower these days; backing away from the lodge and the sacred dance. The paths they’ve followed open earnestly before us; summoning our feet to their first few furtive steps…

The Heart of the Matter. . .

Posted in Compassion, Forgiveness, Healing, Shamanism, Soul Retrieval, Spirituality on April 23, 2014 by Standing West

Been doing a lot of forgiving these days. Making friends with some of the pettier bits and pieces of myself. Not condoning their actions, but accepting them with love and compassion born out of the realization that the person that existed at the time of the offense simply didn’t know any better.

It’s been really neat watching the changes that have occurred along the way; watching these formerly alienated pieces of myself take up residence in the empty spaces created by the flushing away of nearly ossified anger, fear, and shame.

The abandoned children, once confined to shivering on the front porch in the wind are finally being allowed to return home.

This is the true essence of Soul Retrieval. Not the ceremony. Not the journey. Not the rattle, nor the sage, nor the drum. It is  instead the welcoming back of those pieces of us long since taken away, and the promise of recognition upon their return…

For what it’s worth. . .

Posted in Compassion, Healing, Initiation, Shamanism, Spirituality on April 22, 2014 by Standing West

So much anger and hatred these days…Sadly, I, too, have fallen victim to it in the past. Being human, I quite probably will do so again somewhere down the line. But the truth of the matter, whether we’re ready to admit it or not, is that those of us who’ve been called “healers”, even with all of our human frailties intact, MUST strive to provide an example of forgiveness. We must remember that we are the conduits through which all work – positive or negative – becomes manifest. And while it would be very easy to get bogged down in the emotional detritus of the daily news and strike out in blind rage, we must be ready to walk the harder road of compassion…IN ACTION.

A teacher of mine once told me, “Never trust a healer who doesn’t limp.” Healing isn’t about perfection…it’s about progress…slow, incremental transformation. This means bearing compassionate witness to the old crap as it comes to the surface and allowing ourselves…and others…the sacred space in which to work it out.

Lately I’ve seen some very compassionate individuals become so enraged by the mistreatment of others that they, too, have begun to advocate violence. And while I cannot, or would not, offer them the disrespect of speaking for them, I truly know that their anger comes from a place of love, and a deep knowledge that IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE LIKE THIS.

While protecting one’s self and loved ones is a necessary thing, it should be glaringly obvious by now that this world cannot be healed at the barrel of a gun. The so-called “War to End All Wars” proved that.

I don’t come here providing any answers. I only know that performing an act of of compassion is like casting a small pebble in hopes of starting an avalanche. Because the results might not be readily observed, this requires a great deal of faith; something which seems to be sorely lacking these days, if one truly accepts the apparent writing on the wall as cannon.

So perhaps the true nature of our mission then is simply this: to keep the guttering flame of faith alive in a time of apparent darkness and chilling wind, to utilize that flame through acts of compassion in a way that provides light and heat to others in the dark places of this world, and, when the time comes, to pass that flame along to those who come after us that they might do the same…

Mr. Happy Man

Posted in Uncategorized on January 15, 2014 by Standing West


Mr. Happy Man

Reposted from Spiritbath.

Tales from the Crypt…

Posted in Healing, Initiation, Medicine Wheel, Shamanism, Spirituality on January 14, 2014 by Standing West

Wikipedia defines Transpersonal Psychology as a school of psychology that integrates the spiritual and transcendent aspects of the human experience with the framework of modern psychology. It is also possible to define it as a “spiritual psychology”. The Transpersonal has been defined as “experiences in which the sense of identity or self extends beyond (trans) the individual or personal to encompass wider aspects of humankind, life, psyche or cosmos.”(Wikipedia, 2011)  Through this approach, one comes to view one’s healing not only in personal terms, but in terms of how one acts – and reacts – within the entirety of creation in ways ranging from the internal to the mytho-poetic.

In the forward to Alan Bleakley’s  insightful book, Fruits of the Moon Tree: The Medicine Wheel  & Transpersonal Psychology,  Peter Redgrove talks about healing as the process of  “…becoming thin–skinned, like the shamans reported by Eliade, who have scraped and scraped the old skin off with pumice until they obtain visions of immediate truth.  The armor is off, and it is a brave man who dis-arms himself in this world.” (Bleakley, 1984)

I came to these words at a moment of relevance the other morning as I thumbed through the book passing the time before my first appointment with the Elder who facilitates our monthly sacred drumming circle. These circles are a source of wisdom and a wellspring of powerful and often deeply cathartic release.  Although we are taught various techniques and theories associated with the drum, we are mostly encouraged to do our own work, and to provide compassionate witness and support for the other members of the group.

During my individual session with our teacher, he commented on the fact that I build a wall around myself in the presence of the group, and how that wall prevents me from experiencing the type of healing release I’m hovering just at the edge of.  I agreed with him, and committed myself to be more aware of it the next time it occurred. 

As I arrived home after the session, I pulled into the driveway only to find that the wall surrounding the flower bed in front of our house had partially collapsed due to the heavy rains we’d been experiencing.  Obviously, there were larger forces at work.

At our circle the following day, I took notice as my personal walls came up, and made a focused effort to bring them down. As I decided to place myself completely in Spirit’s hands, I was aware of the loving presence of Mother Bear placing her huge paws on my shoulders and drawing me into her warmth.  This has happened several times, and so I knew that something important was about to occur.

As we started to drum, the Elder instructed us to go deeply within, and to free ourselves of those things which no longer served us.  Within minutes, my head tilted back and a series of deep growls arose from inside me.  The growling changed into laughter, then tears, then back into growling. As he reminded us to focus on our breathing, a spell of dry heaves shook my body.  These finally subsided as the drumming died down.  I was altered and tired, but also aware that I’d stumbled across an old wound hidden in the darkness and opened it up to receive the light of healing.

Turning again to Bleakley: “The unacknowledged and unknown is the dark part of us, our other self (wyrd) or shadow, the part that we are to become or individuate to.  The wyrd is then our destiny, which is open to choice.  Because it is unacknowledged or remains unconscious, the shadow naturally distorts and disables, and then carries ‘negative’ content…To raise this to the light, or to descend with illumination and enlightenment to our ‘other’ part, our depths, is a task for which we have many guidelines from older psychologies such as mythology, fairy tale, legend, and alchemy…” (Bleakley, 1984)

While this was by no means a resolution to years of psychic damage brought on by living in an impoverished household with an emotionally abusive and binge alcoholic father, it was undoubtedly an important step in the Wounded Healer’s Journey.

When I returned to the book a couple days later, I came across the following: “In the first chapter we argue that the shadow, as vulnerability or wound is also opportunity in disguise, a gift.  And that the receiving of a wound by the male hero in myth, usually a goring by a boar in the left ‘thigh’ is parallel to the ‘given’ but ‘hidden’ menstrual wisdom of women.  If the wound is left as openness in character, a place where feeling and value ‘speak’ directly, rather than closed over prematurely, then we may engage with the shadow through this wound, and in this, energy is released for creative application.”  (Bleakley, 1984)

As I type these words, I’m reminded of the oval shaped birthmark on my own left thigh.  I see the healing that has already taken place, and recognize that a good deal of work still lies ahead of me.  I find strength in this, and I know that facing whatever I need to will only further prepare me to serve as a vessel and compassionate witness for the healing of All My Relations. . .


Bleakley, A. (1984). Fruits of the Moon Tree: The Medicine Wheel & Transpersonal Psychology. London: Gateway Books.

Wikipedia. (2011, April). Transpersonal Psychology. Retrieved from Wikipedia.

“Yo, how much?”

Posted in Healing, Shamanism, Spirituality on December 17, 2013 by Standing West

Things have been a little busy around the campfire these last few weeks, what with the holidays and all; and I realize that it’s been a while since I’ve written anything.  I’ve also made up my mind not to write something until I can’t NOT write it.

I had a gig a while back with a poetry group and for the first couple of years, the words came fast and easy.  Of course, they were mostly crap…or, not so much crap as the scum you have to scrape off to get to the good stuff underneath.

I had a lot of help from a lot of friends, and even recorded a poetry cd with some buddies of mine back in Scranton.  I was reading out quite a bit back then, and managed to headline a couple of times thanks to a very accommodating friend in Boston, where I met up with the president of a small record label.  It was a lot of fun, and I was very blessed by the experience. 

Eventually, though, the words  ran dry (it was therapy anyway, so I more than got my money’s worth out of the 5 or 6 years that it lasted).  Towards the end, my writing got forced and stilted.  I caught myself sitting down and writing just to write, and when I took a good look at the drek I was churning out, I chucked all my written work (kept the cd’s though; I still have almost a thousand of them in the crawlspace), and made up my mind I would never write another word again unless I couldn’t keep myself from doing so.  Consequently, my postings here are sometimes a bit erratic.

At any rate, I’ve been plowing through a lot of alternative press, conspiracy websites, and spiritual boards of late, and I started thinking about my recent experiences with my teacher and another group of students I’m working with.  The concurrent student/teacher perspective on my part’s kind of interesting; infuriating sometimes, enlightening at others, but a definite blessing every step of the way.  Not that we’re not always in that position every minute of our lives…I guess it’s just never been so formalized before.  It’s kicking my ass one half of the time and patching it up the other.

So what struck me most about these boards is how easily certain bits of in-depth information get thrown around, and how quick some people are to diagnose based on a couple of sentences without so much as even a consultation. And while I won’t speak ill of another practitioner, it concerns me sometimes owing to the mercurial nature of the average chat board. Personal experience has taught me that one can never completely anticipate the motives of the person on the other end of the wire. 

I also see a lot of questions about what people are charging for their services.  I used to participate in these discussions, but lately something’s dawned on me.  There are only two reasons someone would have for asking a question like this: 1) The person doesn’t trust in their own ability to ask the Creator (or their Guides) for an answer.  Or 2) They have it in their mind to “undercut” you.  Often they’ll swear that it’s only because they don’t want to charge too much – and they may really believe that’s the reason; but the unrealized or unspoken truth of the matter in this particular case is that it’s really number 1.

I’m not taking a stance on payment here.  I agree we all need to eat and fill the gas tank more than occasionally, and for some of us the work is all there is.

I guess I just feel that the matter – and manner – of compensation is between the Creator, the practitioner, and the patient; like anything else we do when we’re called to serve.  Seems to me if we can trust the Creator enough to glue a person’s psyche back together after a seriously traumatic event, we can probably also trust Him/Her/It enough to tell us how He/She/It will provide for us in the form of compensation. . .



Statement of Urgency from the Spiritual Peoples of the Earth. . .

Posted in Healing on December 5, 2013 by Standing West



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