South by Southwest…

As most are no doubt aware, self-help guru James Ray has been convicted of three counts of negligent homicide in relation to the deaths which occurred in a sweat lodge ceremony held during the course of his October, 2009 “Spiritual Warrior” seminar.

Additional details may be found here:

This is indeed a sad and difficult case – not only for those who suffered, and their families and loved ones, but for James Ray, his loved ones, and those who believed in him as well.

When faced with this kind of situation, it’s easy to indulge in Coyote-speak – to let emotion find an outlet in angry, derogatory words.  Afterall, these darker impulses are woven into the fabric of all that we are.   One need only turn to the morning headlines to witness this fact.   War, murder and corporate greed seem at times the mortar between the bricks of lust, infidelity and political scandal.

Taking the higher road when met with situations like this is not an easy thing to do.  But it is precisely the course of action that those of us who walk the healing path must take.  We must do this first by coming to terms with our own shadow selves – to understand that they are and ever will be part of who we are in this physical world.

And we must come to love these portions of ourselves.

At its very core, shamanism is about balance.  It is not about light conquering dark, but embracing it that the strengths of each may work together in a complimentary way.

Giving voice to our anger, especially among those who look to us for wisdom and comfort, only perpetuates that anger.  We must instead walk the difficult road of compassion and understanding.

It’s easy for us to channel love at a faceless entity no matter how malicious it may appear.  “This is a suffering being,” we tell ourselves, and deal with it accordingly.  Yet how difficult this task becomes when the offending party is not a disembodied force, but one of our fellow two-leggeds.

While the healing road is never the easy one, it is imperative that we remember that by picking up the drum, it is precisely the one we’ve embarked upon.  Certainly, we must honor our darker sides for what they are.  But before we act, we must move from the wild, passionate, oppositional place of the South to the cool, compassionate coming-together place of the West.  Only then can we truly act like the healers we’re called to be. . .


2 Responses to “South by Southwest…”

  1. Kelticshaman Says:

    call the spade for the spade it is.
    to call a thorn a rose is not being compassionate, it is being dishonest with self and beyond.


  2. Agreed. But it’s also important to note that what reaches out into the physical world is eminating from a spiritual source. This was a case of people willingly handing over their power blindly to a man who misappropriated it. This presents two opportunities for healing:

    1) The source of the need to blindly give up one’s power.
    2) The source of the need to exploit that power.

    As for the sweatlodge issue, it’s our responsibility to educate. We, as water pourers, fire tenders, healers – we must show the right way as opposed to stomping on those who perpetuate the wrong way. Otherwise, we’re waging a war over dogma. In that scenerio, everyone chooses sides, nobody wins, and healing NEVER ensues…


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