Friday, July 1, 2011

I went to see a shaman

Never Done: I went to see a shaman (in Tribeca)

I don't think I ever expected to say -- or write -- those words in this lifetime, but one of the most wonderful things about my Never Done practice is that it leads me to be open and non-judgmental about new experiences. Three weeks ago, I was talking with a close friend about my lung problems, when she became quite focused and said, "You have to see Shaman Elizabeth."

Without even knowing anything about Shaman Elizabeth, I knew in that instant that I would be going -- mostly because I could tell that my friend's conviction was strong, and that she truly believed this could help me, and partly because when you are doing a Never Done practice and someone tells you to see a shaman in Tribeca ... well, duh. Also, I don't think it's uncommon, when we are bumping up against the limits of what traditional medicines can do for us, to start looking into more obscure healing modalities. So I wrote for an appointment (her closest one was three weeks out) and waited, as my lungs got worse, and I tried more inhalers and prednisone, and then finally got a diagnosis of GERD, which is also somehow often linked to having a deep cough (although nobody can explain exactly how.)

I'm not going to tell you everything about my session, because it feels important to me that most of what she said and did should stay private. But I'll describe parts of it. The first thing is, Elizabeth is a pretty blonde Minnesotan. This is not who I would immediately think of as having a shamanic calling. (I don't actually know if she has Native ancestry -- I decided that it didn't matter to me one way or the other.) She works out of a small room in her loft -- a room like many massage studios - with a couch, a massage table, and a table filled with stones, feathers, bottles of clear liquid, and other talismans. She asked me to leave my shoes and bag outside, and to take off my jewelry. Then we sat on the couch and talked -- Elizabeth with little pretense, and a great deal of compassion and curiosity. She asked me why I was there, and I found it reassuring that this wasn't a test in which she had to prove what she could tell without our talking -- but that she wanted lots of information that would inform the rest of the session. She told me that much trauma that we are dealing with in this life is rooted in our past lives, and that she can find it and clear it out. We talked about a great deal of family history during this time -- ending with my parents' deaths. She wanted to know if they had died worrying about anything, or feeling like they needed to take care of someone. She said that sometimes if that's the case, they don't cross over to the other side, and stay in limbo and attach themselves (and sometimes their physical or emotional needs) onto us. She also stressed that when dealing with a physical manifestation like my bad cough, it's imperative to keep working with doctors -- that these healing modalities compliment each other, not replace each other.

She asked me to choose a stone from a tray, and when I chose, she made a little sound of surprise. She asked me to blow on it three times, and then she took it. She asked me to stand up, and she shook a gourd rattle around me, and made some blessings, and then did something with her hands -- she describes it as working with the energy around me. This was -- for lack of a better word -- the diagnostic part of the session. She told me what she saw, and what she wanted to do to heal it. I will say that what she saw made an awful lot of sense to me, both physically and metaphorically.

Then she asked me to lie down on the massage table and hold my stone -- first on my stomach, and then on my back. This was the heart of the session -- I was probably on the table for 45 minutes to an hour, while she used feathers, stones, stone knives, something she burned, some of the fragrant water, and her hands and voice to clear out what needed to go, and to instill what needed to be there to replace it. What she was doing was actually very literal, which I loved because I could picture the process clearly. I also loved the fragrances of the burning and the liquid -- and that's not a given for me. When she was done, she asked me to sit up, and we spoke. The first thing she told me was that she had been quite surprised at the stone I chose. It's a stone about time mastery -- rarely (if ever) chosen. Time mastery, she said, is about past, present, and future all existing at the same time, and is always associated with advanced healing. She told me that my session was not about past life trauma at all, but about intergenerational trauma -- passed down from my ancestors to me, looping around in cycles, existing in the past and present simultaneously. She said she rarely sees this, and thought it was connected to my having chosen the time mastery stone, which also pointed to the fact that I am already well into the healing process. Also, for those of you who knew them and are wondering, she also let me know that she did not see my parents hanging around in limbo -- that they are crossed over.

She told me more what she had done to clear out the trauma, and to instill something more positive to replace it. She also gave me the bands of protection, because she felt that after she removed all the protections I had in place (that weren't serving me well) that she would be leaving me too vulnerable. The bands of protection are visualized bands of black, red, gold, silver, and white light wrapped around my chakras, and then woven together into a permeable mesh of protection. She gave me a round stone that I can carry around for at least a few weeks to help me remember to invoke the bands of protection. Finally, she suggested I go home and take a hot bath with epsom salts and baking soda. She said she thought she had cleared out a lot from my lungs, but that it probably now hurt in my throat (which it did.) She suggested getting all the way into the hot bath -- all the way so my throat would be under water -- and letting that help clear things out the rest of the way.

The rest of the day was tough -- my cough got worse, and I got a headache, and I got incredibly tired. I wasn't able to go to sleep though -- was out til almost 10PM. But when I finally got home, I did draw a hot bath with baking soda and epsom salts (which I had just randomly bought last week) and sunk down deep for as long as I could, and then climbed into bed and slept better than I've slept in weeks.

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