Category: Walking the Red Road Views: 5505
When we step into our spiritual quest what's the first thing we start to do? We look for a path to follow…so many traditions, so many theories, so many religions, so many things…which way do we go? Which path do we follow? If you consider you are already on the path you're meant to walk and anywhere you go is the 'right' way the fear of making a mistake or error in judgment will vanish. Okay, so you're on your path, now what? What's it called? Where does it fit into all the others?
Well the path you walk will become your teacher in a variety of ways if you open to your Self. That means you need to listen to the things that catch your ear; look into the things that catch your eye; explore your interests; go with what feels right; touch the things that touch you. When you do that then you're letting the path teach you. It may sound too simple, but the truth is that's how we begin to explore the world around us and it doesn't change just because we're exploring spirituality. Spirituality and life go hand in hand and so the path is always there, wherever we go. So let's start with the premise that you are already on it.
As you walk through the spiritual teachings of cultures and traditions it's done in stages. Looking at the pieces of what you explore as they begin to make sense to you, a bit here, a bite there, and you gather those to yourself. Exploring and digesting the morsels of insights and information, of history and foundations. Where's the path you're supposed to be walking on taking you? Which direction is it leading to? There are so many paths, should you change to a different one? Little by little we come to see that they all start to reveal the same cornerstones and basic foundations and it only seems more confusing. If they all hold the same basic truths, then which 'one' is the 'right' one? I'd like to suggest you explore the idea that the path you are walking right now might be an eclectic path, that you just may be on the path that's right for you already and in that perhaps the way ahead may be clearer.
It's certainly possible you may find a tradition that resonates for you, and when that happens it's easier to say you have a path you follow. However, if that's not the case then there's nothing wrong with exploring a variety of traditions and there's nothing wrong with not embracing just one of them…in creating your own tradition. Family traditions have existed throughout time, beliefs, abilities, guidance systems, Spirit Helpers that move through the generations and teachings that are basically passed on orally are a part of that. Through tradition established in the family, and abilities passed genetically the family develops their own ways of doing things. So it may be that your eclectic path is reawakening a lost tradition within your family, or that you're to create an eclectic path that is best suited to you. Traditionally or not, eclecticism can be a tradition too, the path you are walking is YOUR path and it is all about YOU and YOUR connection to Spirit. That said, it's time to relax and look at your spirituality in a less confused state and open your mind to the fact that there are many, many ways to experience it. Whatever 'way' you go about it, the main point is establishing that one on one relationship with Spirit and with your Self because that's the connective tissue. From there everything else will unfold as it should and in its own time.
Let's look then at how we can open to Spirit. Is it any more sacred to hear the voice of Creator speak to you in a church, mosque or temple than it is to hear it on the Wind or through the elemental forces of Nature? Is it any more sacred to hear the Truth spoken to you in a masculine voice than that of the feminine and Mother Earth or Virgin Mary or some other Goddess? Wherever you are, however you hear the Voice and the Word of Creation speak to you, wherever you are if you look or listen you will find it accordingly. Every faith, every religion, every tradition has the stories and teachings of these things happening to the multitudes and solitudes…are you any different than them to receive sacred words? Be that in tradition of some form or in Nature-based teachings, it is what it is and will be what it will be for the sacred is Truth and when you seek you will be shown.
It's up to you to accept what you're shown. It's up to you to decide if you will follow the teachings of others, perhaps take something from them and go on seeking, or let the Path itself become your Teacher accepting yourself for who you are and your guidance for what it is. There are many names, many titles, many variations of the terms and semantics, but it's all One. They are only the colored rays of the rainbow that is comprised of the greater Light of Spirit. It's all one, many voices speaking of the One and the aspects of the One…of All That Is, of The Powers That Be….it's all One.
Just as IT is all One, so all Paths are One…they all lead to the center, to the Sky Father and the Earth Mother and the union that is Creation…to the center and out again. Teachings here are based in shamanic practices, in the Native American tradition of spirituality, however we are open to all paths. In the teachings we share here the balance of the masculine and feminine in nature, the elemental forces, the energies of life are the ways of perception of what brings forth creation to support life forces. In the teachings I can share here the masculine fertilizes the seed within the feminine and from her womb comes Form…in whatever form is willed by the focus of that Will…plant, animal, mineral, what IS begets what it IS. "It is what it is.""It will be what it will be." This is the Word that will let you accept you are who you are and you are connected to the whole…to Spirit just as anything else is. It will hopefully bring you peace, help you find your Self, find your Path, find Spirit and enter the Oneness. Whatever path you are walking today is the right path for you because it is your path in life and you are already on it. I'm going to be expressing things in Native terms because that's my path, others will use their terms but we're all going to be sharing the same basic concepts.
Along the Path of Life (in Native terms the Good Red Road of Life)…we have the physical aspects. They form from life experiences and from them into wisdom that is born of the knowledge we gain from those experiences. Whatever you're exposed to based on free will and the choices you make, you chose what experiences you will involve yourself with or not. And in this you choose what you will learn from by studying or observing or experiencing and then later apply that to a different experience. Sometimes we need to say 'I'll watch for a bit if you don't mind and try my hand at that later,' or we say 'I'd like to look into things a bit more,' sometimes we jump in with both feet impulsively because it feels right or feels like a cause. How many times in life have you experienced such choices for yourself and made them based on one of those methods or some other option? You've chosen the direction of your path with every step you've taken, with every relationship you've entered in and out of…is it any wonder that you shouldn't continue to exercise your free will and choose the spiritual perspective that fits you too?
The spiritual path (in Native terms the Blue Road of Spirit) is where the spirit worlds enter into life, pass through it and where life passes through them. Again in the center…where Creator is present…we have the merging or intersection where we come to the Oneness that goes inward and outward to explore the cornerstones and make the journeys. The point I'm making here is that the path you take through life in the physical sense needs to be in harmony with the spiritual path you follow too…we can't go in two directions at once and unless it feels right to YOU then you will always feel torn. I'm wanting to encourage you to study what resonates with YOU, draws YOUR interest, and registers with YOU making 'sense' and making you feel your 'senses' inside and out. When this happens the Inner Spirit (Self) is stirring with recognition and you KNOW if it's 'right' or 'wrong' for YOU. It's that simple, and there should be no shame, no guilt, no fear of following your own path rather than the path of another or which another would try to dictate to you.
You have free will and should learn to use it consciously, you've been doing it all your life anyway, why not raise that awareness, find the permission within yourself to just BE yourself and walk YOUR path as you feel appropriate? You're a good person, you're doing your best to grow on that path already, you're seeking to BE-come all that you are…you can't do that without being true to yourself….your Self.
What happens when we let the Path become our Teacher? Well when I did that I came to find things went a lot smoother, physical Teachers crossed my path, people crossed my path, they walked with me for a time and I learned many things, many challenged me and others blessed me with their teachings and sometimes I explored alone. In looking back I wouldn't have had it any other way…it's been filled with beauty, bittersweet moments, awe and inspiration and so many challenges to overcome. It's been hard work but a labor of love, and it continues to this day to be unconditionally walked with conviction. It's awesome. How's your path been? What has Spirit shown you and where have you been led to? Did you delve or run away? Did you peek through a door or step through it? What are YOU searching for and why are you looking where you're exploring today? Is it to satisfy your Self? If so congratulations! Is it to satisfy your interests? If so congratulations! Is it to grow and understand YOUR questions as you find the answers? If so congratulations! That sounds to me as if you're learning to give yourself permission to walk and embrace the path you're on and are starting to see it for what it is.
The path you walk may or may not have a name, that doesn't matter. The path is you, the path is Spirit, the path is One with all others. Walk it with honor and in union with Spirit and you won't go wrong. The Teachers you need to connect with will appear when you need them. In the meantime you're free to explore every nook and cranny until one shows up to walk with you and guide you where you need to go next. Until then enjoy it and stop feeling like you have to live up to someone's expectations. Life is, in a nutshell, between you and Spirit, there are no secrets hidden there and at the end of your path that's where you'll stand, face to face with Spirit in the Truth of the life you have lived. It is what it is and it will be what it will be. Awesome isn't it when you find out the path is YOU?
Let’s look at that path, shall we? As I said, the path we walk in life is our teacher, and it contains many lessons along the way. Some lessons are clear and show themselves in the Light of understanding (enlightenment). Others are murky and hold us in a swamp of confusion. Still others are of Shadow where they entrap us in negative or harsh lessons that are very painful and difficult to sort. Some lessons are very Dark and draw us into pits we have to claw our way out of while others are Light and joyously experienced. Since each of us is destined to walk a path through life you can see that the path will be our classroom and the teachers and lessons will vary.
Our path leads us in and out of relationships where many different lessons will be found. We journey along passing in and out of situations and circumstances that we learn from. This leads us through the environments life contains where we experience the Now of the moment (the present). As we pass through these moments we gain hindsight to see lessons we may have missed and are repeating (sometimes for the umpteenth time) as well as gaining insights that show us how far we’ve come when we can look back into the past. If we watch where we’re going the path will also provide glimpses of what’s up ahead while we keep our footing and eye on where we’re going so we can learn in the present. In the glimpses of what’s ahead we get an idea of what we’re moving into…at least enough to prepare for it. We’ll get the fullness of that picture when we arrive but we have the insight that will lead us to see when we’ve progressed and come to face the next set of challenges and the growth they will bring us. This is the insight that allows us to become patient, tolerant and persevering.
Now each of us is given a Guide (if not many more) to walk with us as we follow that path—someone to keep us company and help us stay on it…someone who has walked that path before. This Guide is going to be a Spirit Helper, and we may find along the way there are other Spirit Helpers and naturally physical people populating the path we take. What name will you give this Spirit Helper? Are they a Guide, an Angel, an Archangel, an Ascended Master, a deity, a Totem Animal, a Power Animal, an Ancestor perhaps, or some other title? Does it matter? Not really, the name/s you use to identify them will be in keeping with the tradition or perspective you are learning from, but they are all basically the same with a wide variety of guises they appear in. You do have Guides, we all do…we need them and if we are consciously looking to connect with them they will step forward. If not, well then they’re basically going to be working with a blind mule. That’s up to us, and bless them they don’t desert us, they just keep walking with us doing the best they can. You hear of people who walk a path of service to Spirit. Our Guides are doing the same thing from the Otherside. We’re on this path from the moment we step into the world until the moment we leave it and that Guide that first appears is going to guard the way for you if you choose to allow that connection to become a strong one. If we recognize the Guide and honor that Spirit Helper we make better progress, sometimes we make their tasks very difficult by denying them and the connection takes longer to unfold or never does as the case may be. The path through life is thus filled with all the life experiences and all the help we need.
Let’s talk about that Guide for a moment. Whether the emerging form it presents itself in is a Spirit Guide, a totemic Guide, or some form of Guardian Spirit or Angel, we do have that assistance in mapping our way through life. And one Guide will introduce us to another when the time is right. You’ll find that as you progress you have a growing number of Spirit Helpers walking with you because you are able to see them actively present and interact with them. If you never open further then you’ll have a chief Guardian Spirit watching over you that would be dominant, and they may have to call for reinforcements at times that you’d never know about. I’ve seen many people in life that have convinced me they have a whole troop of Helpers and no clue they’re there.
Spiritual awareness is Key to setting the foundations of the perspectives we walk with and learning to make that connection to our Guide is so important. It’s our Guide that will show us how to make the connection to Spirit and the Earth Mother when we actively open to doing so. Now sometimes we go about that naturally and sometimes we need help and explore the task with a physical teacher or several different teachers until we find a foundation with techniques that will work for us…the techniques that open the doors to understanding. To those new to spirituality this may seem like a daunting task but I assure you it is well worth the effort and will expedite all that follows. The secret is that you have to ‘want’ it, have rise up to spiritual awareness and in that raise your conscious awareness to focus in that direction. You will come to see that wherever you are focused that guidance will be there and all you have to do is be willing to open yourself to it.
When we have our foundations we learn to tap into that guidance by establishing a close relationship. One Guide often leads us to others and there comes a point where you will discover you have plenty of help and loads of company along the way from both the spiritual side and those who share that path with you in the physical sense. Joining like-minded groups, be that an organization of some sort, seminars and workshops, websites and social media groups, all provide the arena to share experiences, ask questions, find answers or direction and learn more. Physical teachers, information we gather from books and research pertaining to spiritual perspectives, our own interests being explored, these are all things that contribute to our mapping that path for ourselves. Once mapped we have a basic sense of where we’re going because the path itself begins to reveal itself…we come to recognize what is right for us and the way we want to pass through life.
I can use myself as an example here and maybe you will see how I came to find my path such as it is. I began in the Lutheran Church for traditional upbringing and religious concepts. It was lacking ‘something’ I couldn’t name at the time, I hadn’t made that spiritual connection. I was in a tradition that others (family) had chosen for me, doing what they expected of me, but it didn’t speak to me clearly either so I began to explore further. I looked into other Christian faiths and world religions. All of them were falling short. I couldn’t find the spiritual connection until I came to the Old Religion…Witchcraft. There I began to make some connections, it was in the nature-based teachings that things resonated but Witchcraft, for me, wasn’t enough either. I was exposed to the Bohemian Gypsy tradition through family and that contributed but again, left me lacking. Eventually, after many years of exploration I came to the Native American teachings and that’s where I knew I’d come home. For me it all resonated and it explained me to me, I finally understood what I was experiencing in my own abilities and understandings that had come through life experiences. I found my place and the path has continued to be a beautiful one ever since.
Whether we open to our Guardian Spirit off the top or not, another source of guidance we need to consider is our Inner Spirit. Each of us can connect to the spirit within us and it is that Inner Spirit that knows what needs to be accomplished in our life. It knows because it is the reason we, as humans, took form…to allow that spirit to be contained within the body so it can have the advantage of the physical experiences that allow it to accomplish its work. Recognizing this we can step into the role of Witness and in that we can see what it needs to do and join with it consciously to assist. Often it is in connecting to our Inner Spirit that we connect to our Guardian Spirits. Either way, it works.
Each path walked in life is going to have its lessons along the way…choices, opportunities, challenges, obstacles, and yes, blockages. It’s also going to have its low points and foggy areas where we have to contend with a climate and environment that brings much confusion…more lessons in finding our way through these things. It’s going to pass through chaotic times too where one day it’s bright and sunny and the next we’re facing a terrible storm. It’s going to have the high points allowing us a panoramic view of life’s landscape and the ability to see the bigger picture and where we’re heading through it. We know at those times that there are details we can’t uncover until we get into things more, make more progress and arrive at different points along the way but we have the scope of things to see where we’re heading in general. Through all that, our path and journey are designed to serve the needs we hold. Some people refer to those needs and that scope as a contract…a contract that our soul/Inner Spirit has made with the Creator before incarnating into human form. Irregardless of the terminology, this path holds not only the needs of our physical self, but our Inner Spirit as well. Our Inner Spirit knows what it needs to accomplish, it’s entered the physical body with a mission of its own and trusting it to guide us along with our other Spirit Helpers makes that journey a whole lot easier.
Recognizing the path we are walking takes time for many and for others it’s clear from early childhood, either way that comes about is right for YOU. Even those at early childhood awareness have little more than a basic idea of what it’s about. As we grow the path and understanding of it grow too, so which ever the case may be, once we do see it and we’ve gained some in-sight into that, the path becomes a tangible part of our life in the physical sense. This path in itself begins to join with the other teachers we walk with…the people we meet along the way and exchange life experiences with. There will be lots of forks in the road (choices as to which way to go next) where we’ll need to consult that guidance in determining which direction is in our best interest. Perhaps finding what those options hold instead of guessing so we have better clarity and know which path we’re to follow again. Those consultations with Guides and Teachers or our companions are very informative and we learn how to enter those sessions through meditation and/or prayer…and then becoming still to listen for the answers. There will be lots of side trails we can opt to explore and some may lead us into deep studies, dead ends, or quagmires. Some side paths will lead to great adventures and understandings but they all lead us right back to the path we’re supposed to be walking. Mini vacation or long journey those side trips are the lessons we can opt to experience and again we should consult our Self and whatever guidance we walk with in making the best decisions. We don’t always remember to do that but it sure does help.
In the physical sense initiating spiritual studies is one of the first steps in uncovering our path and why we are walking it. This is what gives meaning to our life and brings about that connection to the whole through the strands in the Web of Life. It’s what helps us recognize there are many paths to choose from and in that to find our tolerance levels for the paths others choose to walk. We begin to see how the Web of Life has a spiral effect where, just as our own galaxy spirals, it has threads or roadways to the center (Spirit) and back out again (into life). We travel in and out on those spirals following our strand as we explore it just as we breathe in and out of our bodies. In and out of the spiritual and mundane focus…but it’s still a strand, still a part of the whole, still a way to explore our life through that connection. In this we come to the recognition of who walks similar paths to our own. This recognition allows us to see who is walking up ahead of us and thus who we can follow behind, perhaps meet up with and learn from. We come to recognize who walks beside us where we can find company of like-minded individuals and share our sorting together, or who is following behind us that may need some of the knowledge we’ve gained along the way…those we can share with and assist as they get their own footing. In this example alone I hope you can see there’s no need to compare yourself to other members or individuals in life, but to accept where you’re at and proceed from there comfortably. We’ve either been in your shoes or will be stepping into them at some point.
It’s important to recognize that your guidance has a clear perspective on where you’re to go. It’s there for a reason, one that serves your higher good and the higher good of those you share your life with. Letting others alter that guidance and the messages you receive telling you that it’s ‘wrong’ to believe this or that is going to hinder your development and the path you’re taking. We need to learn to recognize that some people like to shove you off the path just for fun or for self-gratification. It’s important to learn how to recognize if you are starting to veer off course and sidetrack your journey. When you do start to head in a wrong direction or get confused you’ll sense hesitation, or discomfort. Stop then and sort yourself before going on. Jumping ahead blindly will surely lead to a lesson, but one that would not necessarily need to be taken if you held awareness of where you were going and why. If we do not follow our guidance then we learn to follow it through experience and those who weave illusions of distraction will be waiting. So trusting your Guides to lead you is a good thing, so is listening to the advice of your Inner Spirit. We don’t always do that but we should. How many times have you heard yourself say “I knew better!” when something went wrong? How many times did you feel you should or shouldn’t do something, second guessing yourself do the opposite, and regret it? Learn to trust in yourself to know what’s best for you.
Learning how to tap into meditative states where these in-sights are found is part of the foundational skills you will need no matter what tradition you choose to follow or if you choose to create your own in an eclectic style. Learning how to enter into the dimensions of the elemental forces will help you seek guidance as you come to recognize the aspect of yourself that is experiencing your current lessons. It will help you understand the different energies, what they feel like, what they ‘do’ and in that recognize what we call energy signatures. Some lessons are of Air or the higher mind where philosophy, conception, expanded and abstract thoughts lead us forward. Some lessons are of Fire, the physical experience, trial and error, shattering of illusions, finding faith, etc. Other lessons will take us into the element of Water where our relationship to our Self requires the deeper inner journeys of emotion and emoting…so that we can understand our relationship to others and the greater whole by understanding our Self. And still other lessons will take us into Earth where we have gained the sustenance we have to share with others, where our heart brings forth the compassion of our own experiences allowing us to share healing with those who are passing through the same things we have…turning knowledge, through experience, into wisdom and giving us the eyes to see who is ready to embrace it and who needs to have their own experiences before they can.
Spirit doesn’t always hand out easy assignments and sometimes we’re asked to walk through Fire. These lessons are a bit different than the conceptual ones of Air. Fire is experience that leads to our trusting ourselves and finding our faith in ourselves and Spirit. Each lesson we receive passes through the four elements as they are the stages of understanding and contain well-defined energy signatures. As we enter each aspect of that lesson we will receive or work with a Guide from that element whether we’re aware of it or not. Now this is where it becomes important to understand the aspects of each element and what they bring into play. In doing this we get a ‘feel’ for it, learn to recognize what that energy is like, how we react to it, we learn its signature. Then, when it comes into play we can work with it instead of having to let it, or the Teacher that has stepped forward spiritually, drag us along by the ear kicking and screaming through it. Each element has a signature and that signature, when understood, is a very valuable part of your foundational understanding. There are a myriad of lessons we can gain from the elements and what they have to teach us and our Main Library here holds several articles on these topics if you are interested in learning more. You will find more articles in the Medicine Wheel Library if you are interested in the Native approach.
Whether our path leads us into a single tradition, multiple traditions, or no traditions, all paths will hold these same foundations and will in some form or another present them. If the path we’re taking is not resonating with us then a fork in the road will appear (sometimes seemingly out of nowhere) and we’ll have a choice to take one way or the other to explore something new and see if that fits. Our free will comes into play at such times and it’s up to us what direction we go in. Now, if we’re confused as to which way we want to go as this opportunity presents itself, it’s important to remember to *ASK* for help or directions…to ask our Self, our Guardian Spirit, Spirit, or someone in our physical environment that has experience along these lines. To enter into the Silence where we have created our Sacred Space (see library articles on this for more information) and do meet with our Guides and receive instruction, information, and enlightenment is one source of direction. If we’re working with someone who is teaching us things then we can ask them about what we’re facing so we know our options a little better. We can tap the elemental forces for the overview of choice too, and we can Dance the Wheel as a few examples to work with. These basic foundations are the core that supports the structure of the path we are walking and will serve to keep us out of harms way, out of quagmires, and away from difficulties as much as possible. Again, these Guides can all help us and they basically hold the atlas to the piece of the map we’ve managed to copy for ourselves. Or we can just jump forward and give it a shot taking whatever comes our way in stride. Whatever choice you opt to make it’s YOUR choice and YOU are responsible for it, no one else.
Sometimes we share the path we’re walking with a new friend who will go a great distance with us (be that physical or spiritual), sometimes that friend will part ways with us needing to take a different course after only a short time. We need to understand these things happen. It’s like the days in high school where you share some classes with friends and then the group changes the next term and there’s a new set of relationships you’re exposed to. There’s a bit of regret when that happens if you were close to those who have gone into another classroom but if the friendship is meant to be it will continue outside that setting, and if not, if you’re meant to go different ways you will drift apart. We simply can’t walk two paths at once and neither can they. Tolerance comes from understanding this; and anticipation can grow in fertile ground if we open to these new relationships and begin to explore them. They’re there for a reason, and we need to use our ability to discern which of those will work best for us pressing on…trusting the process as we keep walking our path.
Sometimes those friends who are parting ways have a hard time letting go and there’s a pull to go their way (or just the opposite and we pull them to stay with us). If we were to allow someone to distract us in this way our lesson would teach us that we shouldn’t have done that. Hopefully the next time we’re faced with such a distraction we’d become aware of it because we took that side road that led nowhere. That same side road would have taken our friend somewhere though…somewhere they needed to go because it held something they needed. We end up taking an unwanted vacation at those times because there’s nothing there but sightseeing for us…sightseeing that distracts us from where we need to go ourselves. That vacation may or may not have been ill-timed since we may have missed something important on our own path and have to rush to get back to it again. If we don’t recognize the need to part ways you can bet we’ll be repeating the lesson again and again until we learn to recognize the trap for what it is…the inability to disengage—and we all go through that.
Letting others hinder guidance or insights we’re given hinders our journey. It slows us down while we learn to decipher for ourselves where we really need to go. We should never hinder another’s journey but we often do out of emotional attachment. Sometimes it pushes us off course when that happens, so learning where good advice can be found is part of walking that path. Now in the physical sense our awareness is dense when it comes to these things so we have to train our logical mind to accept spiritual concepts and foundations before we can break through to the spiritual experiences themselves. We need to do our own homework and willing awareness helps, but we don’t always have that and learn just as often by physical experiences of trial and error. Sometimes that’s what we need too…it helps us reconnect to that awareness. The awareness is always there within us, but we lose focus being human and in the existing density of the mundane reality. What’s real and tangible seems more valid than the intangible realms, yet they are part of the layers of dimension creating the whole. Think of the layers of atmosphere that create different densities of Air itself. Conditions change in each layer, each serving a purpose and aspect of Air as it exists in the environment.
Please remember that your guidance is no less valid than that of another person’s. Do not dismiss your own or theirs. They may not always match up but then that’s because you are taking different paths and what’s right for one may not be right for the other. While we have this guidance, and the opportunity to seek more through the elemental forces, the path itself needs to become our teacher too. And as that path is our teacher, the path others walk is also their teacher. If someone is feeling lost and asks you to help them find answers all they are asking is if you can assist them in making sense of what they’re encountering in their experiences. After offering your insights it’s important to step out of their way so they can continue on if they are heading in another direction, or if they are heading the same way you’re going it’s just fine to offer to accompany them for awhile.
Spirit Teachers appear at different intervals along the way as we are ready to experience their lessons. Having achieved basic foundations in Native teachings for example, one might encounter a Totem Animal stepping forward. It is said that Wolf is the Great Teacher, and this is very true. For someone just encountering Wolf Medicine, just for example here, one of their first lessons would be in how they are to teach or share their own knowledge…often with the pack involved. If that person were to ignore the lesson thinking just because Wolf showed up they were already ‘there’ (wherever ‘there’ is) they would be attacked in the spiritual sense by an Alpha Wolf, or they would encounter another more experienced teacher who walked with Wolf Medicine that would challenge them in the physical sense. If someone were to meet with Panther, as another example, one of the first lessons would be in recognizing Old Memory…their gifts and abilities they came into the world with that would explain why they were ‘different’ from others at an early age and help them make sense of how to apply those skills. Panther would make them feel like they needed to stalk information about those abilities or anyone else they sensed had such traits. Perhaps their cheeks would literally tingle with anticipation at certain interests or when meeting certain people. Twitching being a warning, they might feel that cheek twitch too. In this way that stalking or sensation would lead them toward a route that would hold the lessons and/or teachers they needed. Just because a creature-teacher appears does not mean they are a Totem however; and they may simply be a messenger or have come to guide you to a Totem so it’s important to ask who they are, what they have come for, and what their role is. Learn to communicate and interact to gain your understanding. Our Spirit Helpers are our greatest source of information when it comes to the specific lessons and insights we need. When one appears do not assume you automatically know everything about them because you read up on them. You’ll start to grasp, but there are years ahead of you in coming to fully understand them better. The tip of the iceberg happens when they show up, and this assumption that you’ve got it all down at first is a common trap many fall into. Knowing who your Totems are is one thing, understanding them and working with them is another, and when they appear you’re taking the first steps in that learning process. Assuming you know more is going to get you in trouble and you’ll learn through their contrary Medicine first then. That’s a rough start.
As I just mentioned, an animal showing up is not always a Totem either, it is sometimes simply a Messenger showing the way to the new Totem or next teacher. Whatever totemic teachers you walk with, their guidance is going to initiate you into experiences with their lessons so you can hone the abilities you hold along those lines. If you do not pay attention to the experience and see the correlation to the teacher, if you’ve lost sight of that teacher through distraction or dismissiveness, then the experience will be in the School of Hard Knocks, often containing a bite or sting or lashing of some sort. Such lessons are designed to shake us up and wake us up so we can regain our point of focus and correct our mistakes. They’re usually going to contain the energy signature of Fire as illusions shatter and go up in smoke then and reality blares at us as if it were a blowtorch in the face.
Watch for those who will honor the path *you* walk and do all they can to steady you so you can continue on it. Anyone can turn on charm, and many Shadow Teachers are charismatic individuals…people like cult leaders fall into that category and the nightmare stories of those led astray are profound. What is the character of the person? Why are you following them? Are they setting down rules you must follow or allowing you to choose your own ethical approach based on what they share? Are they insisting on an isolated environment and holding you at their feet with restrictions that control your own choices and free will? Run if that’s the case! If on the other hand the individual does not object to you speaking to others and exploring paths other than their own, if they share without condition other than seeing you put forth your own efforts to explore and practice things, you’re on the right track.
Defining character is not hard. If the person is one who holds self-respect they will respect you and be upfront to begin with. They will prepare you thoroughly or openly for the session they are leading you into telling you what it’s about and why it is important for you to have that lesson; not simply say ‘trust me’. If the person has integrity then that integrity will bring forth an ethical approach, one of explanations and direction for whatever their intentions are. If this person walks with true compassion they will make it a gentle journey or as gentle as they can and they will stay with you from start to finish in processing and assimilating what is resulting from that experience…staying with you to complete the lesson rather than leave you hanging or wondering what it was in the first place. If they walk with honor they will demonstrate their honor and keep their word when they give it. A spiritually seasoned individual, one who has achieved true humility will walk in life humbly, they will take praise others might give and offer it up to Spirit, they will shun the fawning that may come their way and redirect it back to the individual to help them into greater self-empowerment and put the spotlight on Spirit for their eyes to follow. They will match you step for step, effort for effort but they will not do the work for you…you can’t learn that way, not about spirituality, it takes active participation.
Even the smallest deceptions seed harmful results and people get hurt…good people, innocent people, those who simply don’t know better. There are those we call Shadow Teachers and they teach tainted Shadow Lessons…lessons that unveil what ‘not’ to do in the end but not until you’re at the end. You can avoid them by being aware of the hands you place yourself in or at whose feet you choose to sit. A good teacher will walk with you, discover your needs and fill them, not make you sit while they talk at you. They will match you step for step, and complete the lesson as you journey through it. They will stop if you stop and start again when you’re ready…waiting for you to say when that might be. They will nudge if you need nudging, but they will not force you to do anything you’re not ready to do…and they will explain the lesson as you go so you are aware and prepared to receive it. A good teacher will talk with you first, find out what your needs are and adjust the lesson to fit them. They will perhaps offer homework so in that you can learn to explore your own methods of solving a problem, or follow a pattern they give you so you understand it and achieve a method or tool to serve you in the future. A good teacher will equip you to walk strong on your own, and a Shadow Teacher is going to enable you to stay dependent upon them. Learning the difference between the two is important.
We can learn to be discerning in different ways, sometimes by the experiences we have, and just as often by observing the way others carry themselves and the things they do. We can see mistakes others make that way, and we can see the traps that some will lay for the unsuspecting victim that comes their way. Honoring what we observe we can avoid those interactions and you can keep walking your path until a more suitable teacher appears. Remember, when the student is ready the teacher appears, this is a phrase you will hear again and again. It’s true, and when the student pushes with impatience they will most likely meet with a Shadow Teacher because they are willing to accept anyone who comes along. In observing the consistency of action in others we learn a lot, and when consistency appears so does the truth. Truth sheds light on the path before us and it shows us the way to walk it for ourselves on steady feet. Avoid the Shadows where you can, do not fear them, if you find yourself standing within the Shadows know that you are in an in-between place…in-between Light and Darkness…a place of choice and it is up to you if you want to stay in Shadow or step from it. If someone whispers for you to stay just ask yourself ‘what for?’ and choose your option. Those who help will draw you into the Light, they will point the way to Spirit, to your own guidance, and give you skills to work with both.
Now all Shadow work is not bad stuff. There are benefits in knowing how to step in and out of Shadows, to use those Shadows to stalk or hunt your answers by waiting in them until something comes out into the Light for you to observe. They can be a safe place to wait and watch. Many of our members here watched from such Shadows before joining—we call them Lurkers affectionately—and they stepped out of those shadows when they felt it was safe to do so. Perhaps you were one such person and there’s nothing wrong with that. The Shadows, in this sense, can be a place to walk too…if you want to journey for a time unseen or undisturbed or avoid being preyed upon they are a very safe place to be. These are usually times of uncertainty or assimilation that we find them of benefit to us…a place to stand or move undisturbed while we sort things and fit them into place or wait for the next indicator to tell us it’s time to step back into the Light again. In this sense, the Shadows, or any Spirit Helpers that may appear as mentors, are neither good or bad…they are neutral, comprised of the energy found in the Light and in the Darkness.
As you pass through each lesson on your path you have times of rocky roads and times of smooth ones. The smooth parts allow you to assimilate what difficulties you’ve passed through too…those things you learned on that part of the pathway, how to avoid hazards like that in the future if there were any will come to you as well. This way in the future when hazards do appear you can choose if you want to go around them or maneuver your way through them. The smooth parts will give you room to sort and unify and move ahead again at an easy pace while you do. When the sorting is done something along the way will catch your eye, grab your interest and off you’ll go off exploring again. In this way you’ll find you’re growing some more with what you discover and in that your spiritual development will evolve into a higher awareness and greater understanding. If you can see this pattern of passage then it opens your eyes a little wider with each turn in the road or each fork you face.
I encourage you to enjoy your journey in life, embrace *your* path, and walk in that awareness. Know you are right where you need to be and this will always be the case. Know that so long as you follow the path you are on it will lead you wherever you need to go, that it’s not the destination that matters, life comes to an end in the physical sense and that always leads you back to Spirit. It’s how you take that journey that matters, and while we all kick and scream at times, embracing it, seeing it, and loving it makes it a whole lot better. In the end Spirit isn’t looking for what we didn’t do in life, what matters is what we did do and what that effect had on others. Don’t worry about the timing of things, the lessons are well placed and waiting for you, you’ll get to them. The challenges that help you grow stronger and more confident will be placed and on the other side of them the blessings for your efforts will be waiting. The timing of that is set, things don’t happen too soon or too late when it comes to our spiritual development, that’s mapped out for us perfectly. If we can trust this we find patience is a little better, the anticipation well, that’s pretty consistently there. Spirit and our Spirit Helpers know what we need and when we need it most and so their timing is impeccable and often laced with an ironic twist in getting it to us. We have that “well who’d have thought!” moment when it arrives. Head scratching is very common then.
All that you’re seeking is on *your* path, not on someone else’s, what you’ll find on their path are the things *they* need. It’s best when you can walk your own. In or out of a tradition won’t matter, there’s nothing wrong with creating your own tradition. You know, one of my earliest Medicine Teachers told me a little secret…if the physical teacher is unavailable to you, if the knowledge you seek to explore is inaccessible, if there is no tradition to support you, Sprit will.” She was explaining to me how things happen on their own (seemingly), how the forces of nature come into play, how events seem to happen, how our Spirit Helpers orchestrate things behind the scenes to insure that what we cannot do for ourselves (though we must always do as much as we can) will be tended. Over time I found she was so right.
Let me give you a quick example of what I’m talking about. Let’s say you’ve walked into a phase of spiritual awareness through a process of trial and error, self discovery and exploration outside traditional lines. Now you know you’ve completed a huge lesson, compiled your thoughts, assimilated it, and honed your own skills or abilities accordingly. It’s time for initiation into the next level of spiritual evolution for you because of this. Yet there’s no teacher, no mentor, no physical way you can traditionally initiate. How do you achieve that? You don’t, but Spirit can and will. You’re walking in the woods one day, a light mist of rain begins to fall, and you are spiritually and naturally purified with Water. The rain stops and the Wind gently brings warmth as the Sun comes out and together they dry you off quickly and somehow both move through you (Air and Fire purification). The aroma of the damp Earth draws your attention to the land you walk and you feel a pulsing rising up through the soles of your feet. You’re walking suddenly in a new conscious awareness, it’s vibrant and you can see that each of the elements have come to greet and escort you into something Otherworldly.
With a raised conscious awareness you know when you arrive at a spot that you should sit and wait and you follow that curious to see what happens. You’re in the Oneness at this point and a Spirit Helper appears with a message, directions to follow, or a vision to share with you and you come into understanding of what waits on the path ahead. Now when this has ended and you’ve returned from your walk (if you didn’t fully see it then in the first place) you will come to see that the elemental forces of nature along with your Messenger or Helper have guided you through an initiation onto a new level of understanding and given you a sense of direction of what your next phase of growth is. You follow that direction…the path ahead is initiated, a door has opened, and off you go to explore yet another great unknown. We can just as easily be exposed to this type of an initiation process as any traditional formal one. What we need in this sense will be provided one way or another. I’m sharing this now so you can see again that the path itself will teach you things, it’s not always going to be a person in the physical sense. Those who have been through this will be able to share experiences with you when you meet them, but many people who are less seasoned will tend to pick it up in hindsight so it’s good to know.
You’ll find good company along the way in this world and others, and you’ll fulfill the purpose for which you came into this life in a timely manner. The path itself will grow with you and as it unfolds you’ll find with each step you take that it weaves itself as you go through the choices you make. Each choice you make leads you to an experience as a result…good choices to good experiences, bad choices to tougher ones, and wrong choices to consequences where we learn our lessons in a hard way. Because of this we do call our lessons to us and we can choose those we want to experience or those we want to observe by watching others go through their lessons. Your path will be what you make it, not what someone else dictates, if you listen to the dictates of others you’ll end up with their lessons and delay the growth you seek learning them instead of your own. Be observant, be aware, and be well with blessings upon *your* path, may it teach you well.
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