Archive for the visions Category

Someone gimme a stone…

Posted in ceremony, Healing, Initiation, prayer, sweat lodge, visions on January 7, 2015 by Standing West

I’ve found myself being called upon to welcome the Stone People into the sweat lodge on a regular basis lately. As is typical when undertaking a ritual, one must be aware of both the practical or exoteric component, and the deeper or esoteric component that empowers the physical container with the Sacred, enabling it to become a vessel for the breath of God.

The Grandfathers leave the fire cherry red; the images on their skin whispering stories in the dark for those who will open themselves and listen. We receive the Stones from the pitchfork into a basket formed by interlocking the tines of White Tail antlers. Then they are placed into the pit to receive their blessing of herbs and the water which, in the form of steam, will carry our prayers to the Great Spirit for the good of All Our Relations.

On a practical level, the antlers are sturdy, resistant to heat, and fit together securely, keeping the Stones from rolling away and burning someone. They also provide better control over where the Stones are placed in the pit.

Symbolically the antlers represent gentleness. The fire from which the Stones are taken is a violent, masculine environment. Rather than bathing the participants in this emotionally aggressive energy, the Grandfathers are cradled in a softer, feminine energy before being brought into the lodge. Focusing on this, one transcends the self and becomes the instrument through which the process unfolds.

The last time I was asked however, a deeper level of awareness opened up. As we move through our lives, or rather, as our lives unfold through us, we will encounter difficult situations which will test us in every conceivable – and perhaps not so conceivable – way. We can meet these challenges carelessly, injuring ourselves and others in the process; or we can open up to them and receive them with gentility and grace, allowing their energy to serve, through our interaction with it, as a lesson for All Our Relations. . .

Signs. . .

Posted in Coyote, Crow, Goose, Medicine Wheel, Middle East, Shamanism, Syria, visions on September 12, 2013 by Standing West

“There’s a feeling I get when I look to the west
And my spirit is crying for leaving. . .”

“Stairway to Heaven”
-Led Zeppelin

In a recent blog, I wrote about my feelings of deep distress over the prospect of war in Syria and the subsequent signs I was given that brought me to a state of peace about the whole affair. If the healing path and my studies of the Medicine Wheel have taught me anything, it’s that there are larger forces at play in the physical world; and that those forces will readily communicate with us if we simply open ourselves up and allow it to happen.

Quite often, the messages are anything but subtle, and shake us to the very core of our being. Other times they bring with them a quiet sense of assurance. Laid out before us like the tracks of some illusive animal, they provide a trail for us to follow through the confusion and uncertainty of life. One learns to watch for these signs – not to force them, or assemble them out of unrelated events – but to notice them as they appear; and to act upon them with gratitude and resolution.

I’ll set the stage for this blog by saying that I did not watch President Obama’s speech as it happened the other night. I planned, instead, to watch it online in the morning. As I came downstairs, I was greeted by a news blurb stating that he’d decided, albeit half-heartedly, to back off temporarily in favor of diplomacy, stating that Russian President Vladimir Putin had proposed a plan calling for the Syrian government to hand over its stockpile of chemical weapons. I’ll admit that although I felt a great relief upon hearing this news, a small part of me couldn’t help but wonder what Putin was hiding. Surely, as those responsible for the online alternative news sites I frequent would admit, there must be something buried beneath this gesture.

I dismissed this flash of cynicism, and decided for once to accept things at face value. Russia and America, whose recent relationship could be described as chilly at best, were sitting down together and discussing peaceful alternatives in the Middle East – something millions of people worldwide had been crying out for.

As I kissed my wife at the door and stepped out onto the front porch I was greeted by the raucous cawing of a crow perched atop my next door neighbor’s chimney. As quickly as I noticed them, his cries faded into silence, only to be replaced by the honking of a flock of geese breaking the tree line north of the house and zooming southwards, directly over my head towards the chimney and the now silent crow. It was a flock of perhaps twenty or so, each shouting its own message; and yet I was aware of some concerted effort in the sound. As the garrulous noise and snapping of wings receded, I knew that I had been given another sign.

Crow has somewhat of a reputation for being a trickster. This makes him, in a sense, a feathered cousin of Coyote. He is often portrayed as a liar and a thief; and yet, as Ted Andrews tells us in his wonderfully insightful book Animal Speak, Crow’s imperative squawking marks him as a messenger, reminding us “to look for opportunities to create and manifest the magic of life.” (Andrews, 1996) A jet black presence loudly announcing himself from the height of his Southern perch, Grandfather Crow was shouting at me about the darker things afoot in the world. His griping was a litany of conflict, aggression, fear, and opposition; all of the negative aspects of the South. And yet, he was also reminding me about the fact that these things can change.

When the flock of geese appeared I was reminded of a discussion I had with an Elder who gifted me with a couple of goose feathers for holding a pipe ceremony at his Medicine Wheel. He taught me that regardless of the number of geese in a flock, or how many of them were simultaneously honking, one could still recognize the individual calls of each goose. We also talked about how if one goose drops out of formation due to sickness or exhaustion, another leaves the flock and travels with it, staying with it until the point of death or recovery. Then one or both resume their journey until they return to their original flock.

Goose, then, was showing me that the voices of millions crying out in unison against military action had been heard. In that moment, the call for opposition had been silenced.

And who, more appropriately to lead us out of conflict and into potential resolution than Mother Bear herself, through the agency of a man whose nation is represented by that very animal. Bear sits in the direction of the West, the place of sacred work, of the coming together of opposites, and of rising up on our own two legs and, after a time of descent into the darkest places of our own souls, walking forward into the light of a brand new day.

It may seem to some a bit naive to take this view of so a critical situation. But regardless of personal or national agendas, the missiles would not launch. The messengers of that morning spoke of a greater potential, set the vision of a healing path before us, and dared us to walk it for the greater good of All. . .

Spark. . .

Posted in Inspirational, prayer, Shamanism, Spirituality, visions on August 29, 2013 by Standing West

“There is a light that never goes out…”


I have to admit that yesterday this whole issue with Syria had me feeling more than a little outgunned – no pun intended.  And while I’ve heard all the words before about “labor pains” and “shift of the Ages”; and said them to others countless times, it all got to be just a little too much to take.  We’re standing on the brink of World War III, the media seems to be changing its focus from “IF” to “WHEN”, and the biggest concerns of the day appear to be what Miley Cyrus did on the MTV Awards, and why Ben Affleck shouldn’t be cast as the new Batman.

So, yeah…let’s just say I wasn’t in the greatest of moods by the time I got home last night.

I typically work late on Wednesdays, so there’s not a lot of time for much of anything besides catching up with my wife and crawling into bed.  Last night, however, I decided to soak in the tub and read a bit first.  My mom was a firm believer in the fact that a hot bath could cure just about anything, and thankfully, she passed that belief onto me.

I got about 20 pages into Gregg Braden’s “The Isaiah Effect” – my second reading of the book in preparation for my Master’s Thesis – when I  felt the need to set the book aside to pray for a while.  I began to pray about the situation in Syria, and as I mentioned the word “darkness”, the power suddenly went out due to a heavy thunder storm that was passing through.  I sat there completely unfazed by the absence of light.  I continued to pray, and asked for a sign that the light of clarity would be brought to leaders of the world during these difficult times. Immediately my prayers were interrupted by a knock at the door, and my wife came in carrying a lit candle and a flashlight with a bright blue beam.

As she stopped to talk, the scenario took on a deeper meaning.

There is no need to fear the darkness of these times.  We must remain calm and centered, and allow  the Divine Feminine to re-enlighten us; to bring balance to the overly masculine tendencies of our culture, as represented by the blue light – the color of Father Sky and the Divine Masculine.

The answers are there for us if we’re open to receiving them.  In order to transcend these times, we must find the courage to walk through the darkness.  And we must also remember that no matter what happens, as long as one of us is willing to carry Spirit’s light, it will never go out. . .

Falling in Love. . .

Posted in ceremony, Healing, Shamanism, Spirituality, Sun Moon Dance, visions on August 8, 2013 by Standing West

This past July at the Sun Moon dance, I spent nearly four uninterrupted days immersed in the awareness of Grandfather’s love.   This is not to say that the Creator’s love isn’t always there.  What I’m offering here, is simply that for the first time since I’ve been dancing, I recognized, physically as well as emotionally, the presence of a force I can only describe as limitless, unadulterated love, flowing downward through the tree at the center of the arbor, and entering the ever expanding vessel of my heart.

One becomes aware, at times like these, of many things seemingly heretofore unnoticed.  And yet, this awareness is not so much the grasping of a new idea as it is a coming home, a re-membering of components as vital to life as the very air one breathes.

How can one, after  literally feeling Grandfather’s energy holding him up as his body – hungry, thirsty, and sleep-deprived – shambles its  way towards the tree and back,  not come away from the experience altered on such a fundamental level as to feel as if his very soul had been transfigured?

We dance for the life and well-being of All Our Relations.  We dance that the People might live.  And in this dance, we sometimes fall into vision.   It is a moment of transcendent beauty when a dancer meets the Earth.  It is akin to nothing so much as a child falling into the arms of its Mother.

Witnessing this, the heart opens, and one feels the continuous ebb and flow of life.  One comes to understand that one is merely the gateway through which the Creator’s light manifests into the experience of creation.

Beautiful Painted Arrow tells us that the songs with which we dance are ancient beings.  They come to honor our sacrifice and share their wisdom.  I have come to believe the same thing about visions.  We do not go out to seek visions for our people.  Instead, the visions themselves, powerful and ancient as the one who imparts them, stand at the threshold, beckoning  us to unlock the door through sacrifice and intent, that they might enter; and in doing so, bring sustenance to a hungry world. . .

One little push. . .

Posted in dreams, Healing, Inspirational, prayer, Shamanism, Spirituality, visions on February 28, 2013 by Standing West

It’s been an interesting ride, to say the least, balancing a full-time day job along with a marriage, healing practice, online education, and the usual assortment of life-stuff. To be blunt, for most of the last year and a half, there were many times when I felt as if I were literally being drawn and quartered. Some of it was my increasing mundane workload playing against the rapid spiritual changes I’ve been experiencing; but a good deal of it can be chalked up to the cluttered conditions of my own personal head-space.

Eventually, predicaments like this generally end up working themselves out. It’s a matter of muddling through and treading water until the tension breaks. For me, that moment came the other night.

I was blowing off steam about my situation for the hundredth time to my wife (I fully acknowledge how difficult this particular stretch has been for her, and I also realize how blessed I am to have found a partner who, even while facing her own questions about where to go with life, is willing to simply listen and be supportive.) In the midst of it all, I looked up and said, “I’m not asking for much here. I don’t want to hit the lottery. I don’t need to know how it’s all going to work out. I just need a little push. Just a little sign to show me where I’m headed; something so clear that I can’t possibly miss it.”

Tired and frustrated, I went to bed shortly afterwards, and the answers came that very night in the following dream.

I‘m standing in front of a Doctoral level math class, which I’m expected to teach despite my being an English major. Behind me stands an older professor taking notes on my performance. Then I remember that before the class can begin, I need to lead them in a song. I fumble through a hymnal, and before I can find something appropriate, a group of women in the class begins to sing. I attempt to sing with them, and they all fall silent.

I have no clue as to what I’m supposed to lecture the class about, and everyone in the room begins to sense this.

Suddenly, an idea hits me. “What were the problems you covered in the last class?” I ask.

The professor smiles, nods, and starts to write something down on his clipboard.

The class begins to answer, and everything they say goes completely over my head.

The professor steps up to the board, draws a diagram, and begins to explain it to me as if I’m fully versed in what he’s showing me.

This scene fades, and I’m standing in a mall. Ahead of me are the Math professor, a security guard, and a rustically beautiful woman with olive skin and a short boyish haircut. I’m aware that she and I have very strong romantic feelings for one another, but up to this point, we’ve really only flirted.

As I approach the group, the professor and the security guard turn to leave. The woman walks over to me and we embrace. We turn to walk through the mall, our arms around the small of each other’s backs, and she turns toward me and kisses me very lovingly. I return the kiss, and then I feel myself wanting to be more forceful. As I try to kiss her more passionately, I’m aware at my sense of disappointment at how gentle she’s being. With that, the dream shifts, and I’m staring at a bathtub drain with a stopper covering it. I grab the chain, and then I wake-up.

Looking back on it all, the first part of the dream reflects recent changes in my work environment. Due to shifts in the official structure, I now find myself surrounded by highly technical people. I’m often amazed – and not a little bit humbled – by their knowledge. This often leaves me feeling like an outsider. And yet, because of my Training position, there’s often an assumed level of knowledge on my part. Being a non-technical person by nature, it’s ironic to find myself in the position of IT Trainer, and the people around me sometimes don’t quite know how to take me.

The second part of the dream speaks to one of the central issues I’ve been facing since I began seriously walking this path. The woman, a beautiful and earthy balance of masculine and feminine qualities, clearly represents my calling to a life of healing work. I know that should I completely devote myself to it, the practicality and security of my daytime job – as represented by the Math professor and security guard – will completely go away. That being said however, I know that there will eventually come a time where in order to fully serve my Creator and All My Relations, that this is exactly the step that I must take. And yet, as her reactions to my advances in the dream clearly demonstrate, I must be patient, and come to this gently. Otherwise, as the somewhat obvious third part of the dream suggests, I’ll pull too hard, and everything will go down the drain.

Since the dream I’ve had a better perspective on things. The duties of my job are starting to change, and falling more in line with what I’d originally envisioned them to be. My sense of dedication to my healing work has also been renewed. I’ve come to know a deeper sense of peace with myself and my surroundings. And I have been shown, yet again, that the Creator turns no deaf ear to the words of those in need. . .


Posted in dreams, Healing, prayer, Shamanism, Spirituality, sweat lodge, visions on January 10, 2013 by Standing West

Luke Skywalker: “I don’t believe it.”
Yoda: “That…is why you fail.”

I am no longer amazed by the generosity of the Universe. Instead, I have come to accept it as being as much a part of its existence as the very air we breathe.

I’ve been in a pretty strange place these last few weeks. I’ve been drifting quite a bit, and feeling like most of the world has been slipping away. I’ve been lost, and emotionally rocky, but somehow through it all, I’ve not lost the awareness that it’s simply part of the changing patterns of my life; and that once I’ve walked through it, I’ll be much better for the experience.

As I alluded to in my last post, I attended a very powerful sweat lodge last Saturday which was poured by a very loving Elder whose humble and mirthful ways speak volumes of his power and connection to Spirit. I knew, as soon as the flap came down, that I was in for an E-Ticket ride; and after the sweat was over, I was certain that some subtle, yet powerful shift had taken place. This was confirmed for me when, for the entire next day, I had almost no energy whatsoever. This is odd for me, because generally I feel charged the day after a sweat.

Yesterday morning I woke up sweating and feeling a slight chill. I attributed this to processing what had happened in the lodge and a heavy cold due to recent stress. My calendar at work “mysteriously” cleared the day before, so, taking my wife’s advice, I called in sick.

After feeding the cats and attending to a couple of morning chores I went back to bed. As I was lying there, I decided to open up to the healing energy as I’ve done whenever I’ve given myself Reiki. I lay there, feeling very highly connected to the living energy and Spirit’s presence. I asked Spirit to let the energy flow gently, so I could process it; and in my head I heard a voice very loudly and clearly say the word “LOVE”.

Then everything went silent.

I drifted off to sleep shortly afterwards. I dreamt that my wife and I were in bed. She was sitting there in a white silk robe looking 20 years younger. Her skin was almost pure white, and she was radiant. The blinds were up, and the sunlight was streaming into the room. My head was in her lap, and she started doing some Reiki work with me. Then, she took her fingers and began to press, gently but firmly, into my eye sockets, just above my eyes; a technique I’ve learned to relieve tension headaches. It felt amazing, and I could sense the energy flowing through her fingers and through my brain.

I immediately woke up. I had the slightest headache, which left after a couple of minutes, but the cold, and my emotional issues, were completely gone.

My gratitude for this healing is beyond words. Even now, if I sit quietly for a few moments, I can feel the living energy flowing through me; and I am greatly aware of my interconnectedness with everything.

What a blessing it is to be a part of so much love. . .

Ascension Dream. . .

Posted in dreams, visions on November 29, 2012 by Standing West

Up until two nights ago I hadn’t slept well for almost a week.  I should have realized something was up, because my irregular bouts of not sleeping are often broken by highly vivid dreams or visions.  This time was no exception. I sat with this for a bit and told no one because I wanted to give it time to sink in…to “let it cook” for a while, as an Elder once told me.  Now, I feel, I can effectively speak about it.

In the dream, my wife Marie and I are sitting in a darkened room amongst a circle of women.  I’m beginning to feel out of place here, like this is a gathering specifically for women, and I should leave.  In the center of the room, lying on the floor is a woman who’s requested healing from the group.  A few of the women are on their hands and knees over the woman lying on the floor.  I understand that they’re placing their wombs over her, (representing the unlimited creative potential of “The Spirit Within”), to allow them to act as a gateway for the healing energy to pass through them and manifest itself within the woman’s body.

As I witness this, I really start to feel like an intruder.  I’m convinced that this is a mystery belonging to women only, and that, out of respect, I should leave.

At this point, the woman at the head of the circle, a friendly, maternal woman in her 50’s or 60’s comes over to me and invites me into the back room with her.  We sit on opposite sides of a large desk and begin to talk.  Behind her, on a set of bookshelves are a large number of sculpted frogs (representing transformation), the largest of which is a fountain with water running out of a frog’s mouth.

She begins to tell me about a woman who was there recently who was a well-known spiritual leader.  She tells me that her people went to a lot of trouble building sets for the woman and that, after her lecture, she took the sets with her and paid the people who built them 3 dollars per piece.  The older woman is very disappointed in the lack of respect that their guest had shown for the people who did all the work.  (I feel like I’m receiving a warning here to be wary of fraudulent teachers, and those who are only into it for the money and the fame.)

Suddenly, I’m aware of the sound of rain.  I look out through a screen door which has appeared in the back wall, and see a herd of goats trying to get in out of the rain.  The woman just sits there talking to me, ignoring the goats.  Suddenly the rain turns into marble-sized hail.  The goats are getting pounded, but she continues to ignore them. (This, I interpret to mean that some people just won’t get it until it’s way too late.  I think the notion of  “separating the sheep from the goats” here is pretty accurate.)

Then, the ground begins to rumble, and through the back door I see a wave of earth rolling towards us, shaking the building.  “What was that?” I ask.

“An earthquake,” she answers.

I watch as the wave ripples past, and soon an enormous mountain peak bursts up through the ground, sending another shockwave through the building.

We get up and go to a window on the left wall.  Through the window, I see a gigantic archetypal male form in a fetal position beginning to unfold and rise up on its back into the air. The form is composed of energy, and I’m aware that this means that the Ascension is taking place; that the energy form represents the male-oriented consciousness of the current society, and that it is finally is beginning to reach a higher spiritual level.

I’m also aware of thinking that I should go and wake up my mother, so she doesn’t miss this.  I’m torn, because I also don’t want to leave while this is happening.  Then I realize that even though my mother is asleep, if she’s meant to ascend, she will.

I turn to the older woman and say,” It’s finally happening…It’s finally happeing!”

She smiles.

Next, I see a building all done up in gaudy neon lights, similar to the Luxor casino in Vegas.  From it rises a looming male figure (a cheap neon imitation of the figure I’d seen earlier) ascending towards the sky as crowds of people gather to watch.  It feels hokey, and I keep saying, “This isn’t real…this isn’t happening…”  The woman looks sternly at me, and I add, ”What we’re seeing here…THIS isn’t real.”

She smiles again, and says something like, “Be sure you say that.”

I look up and see a second moon forming in the sky.  The second moon is blurry, as if out of focus.  The second moon  comes into focus and shrinks down to the size of a star.  When it does, a red circle of energy forms around both, and the whole construct streaks across the sky to stop over what I know is New York City.  When it does, waves and waves of fireworks and flames shoot upwards from Manhattan, forming what looks like a mushroom cloud.  I know instantly that what I’m seeing is taking place on a spiritual level, and that it isn’t a nuclear attack.

Suddenly, it’s no longer nighttime.  From the looming mushroom cloud, a billow of smoke forms into an enormous, ghastly looking fly and swoops down towards me.  I’m unafraid, and I hear a voice in my head – my own – saying, “it will appear to some people as a fly.”  (I know in the dream that I’m remembering a prophecy that I read.  The prophecy indicated that most people will only perceive the physical events taking place around them, and will miss the spiritual implications completely. )

Now I walk away from the window.  I meet my mother walking in her sleep.  Her body is bent at an odd angle, and her hair is white and straight with short bangs. When I wake her up, her hair becomes curly and gray, and her eyes turn a golden yellow / brown.

Now we’re in the basement of the place.  It’s a cavernous basement many floors deep.  Here and there are the remains of white brick walls.  The floors have been ripped out, and the older woman who talked with me  is going about some kind of ritual work.  As she does this, a group of young men come in.  One drives a vehicle adorned with snow fence and pieces of junk made to resemble some kind of fantasy creature (or maybe a triceratops).  Another, dressed in a barbarian costume swings a heavy sword at it.  The third man, also dressed in fantasy style (black leathers and green quilted vest) gets run over by the vehicle. (This, I interpret as our getting lost in entertainment, video games, and movies while the world crumbles around us.  We escape into other people’s dreams as our own fall away.)

After this, Marie and I are walking through the streets of a city that is filled with trash, but almost completely devoid of people. Ahead of us, in the distance, is the mushroom cloud.  I stop and grab a paper from a newsstand.  The headline reads, “A City on Fire.”  I page through the paper and the newsy, an Iranian man, tells me to put it down and grab another one, the reading copy, to look through.  As I open to the title story, I see photos of mutilated corpses.  These are undercover cops who’ve been working on infiltrating the New York Mob and have had their cover blown.

This confirms for me that the events I’ve been witnessing have taken place on two levels. On one, it’s a spiritual ascension.  On the second level, the city is beginning to devour itself, and the average man, embroiled in the media hyped crap and petty struggles of the day, has missed the whole thing.

I set the paper down (I don’t “buy it”), and Marie and I resume our walk toward the mushroom cloud.  I’m aware that my perception of the city is metaphorical, and that even though to me it seems almost completely deserted and overrun with trash,  to the ones who haven’t ascended, it appears the same as it always has.  I turn to Marie and say, “How can I go back after this?”

She looks at me and says, “you can’t.”

It is at this point that I wake up.

I’m still sitting with this, but even after this short a time, I know this to be a life altering (and affirming) dream.  I’m sure there are implications here which will affect me for a long time to come…


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