Healing Power Of The Drum Circle

By Michael Drake, Sacred Hoop Magazine, Spring 2003, Issue 40

Indigenous cultures have been practicing community percussion for thousands of years. Now people all over the world are taking up drumming in astounding numbers. At a grass roots level, small community drum circles are springing up. While some drum circles are content to jam and make a lot of rhythmic noise, others prefer to explore shamanic drumming.

Shamanic drumming is a time-honoured method of healing and helping others. Shamanic drum circles provide the opportunity for people of like mind to unite for the attainment of a shared objective. There is power in drumming alone, but that power recombines and multiplies on many simultaneous levels in a group of drummers. The drums draw individual energies together, unifying them into a consolidated force. Synchronized drumming is the most effective, so individuals should alternate the responsibility of setting the tempo and leading the group. The basic steps that I describe here I have found most effective.

1: Form a Circle
Simply join together, forming a circle. By creating a circle, you are structuring an energy pattern that will contain, focus, and amplify the power generated by drumming.

2: Cleanse the Space
Next, you should smudge the space and all participants. Smudging cleanses the mind and environment in preparation for spiritual or inner work. The sacred smoke dispels any stagnant or unwanted energy and opens the energy channels of your body. Sage, cedar, and sweetgrass are traditionally used for smudging, but any dried herb is acceptable. Light the herbs in a fire-resistant receptacle and then blow out the flames. Then use a feather or your hands to draw the smoke over your heart, throat, and face to purify the body, mind, and spirit. Next, smudge your drum by passing it through the smoke. The drummers can then smudge themselves and their drums by passing a smudge bowl clockwise around the circle. Conclude the smudging by thanking the plant whose body made the cleansing possible.

3: Call to the Directions
At this point, you may wish to invoke the powers of the Four Directions. This is an ancient shamanic rite practiced cross-culturally to access and honor the powers of creation. The facilitator can lead the group in this process. I like to have the participants stand and face each Direction in unison. Rotate clockwise, facing first the East, then South, then West, then North, inviting each Direction to participate and assist in the ceremony. If you wish, you can include Father Sky above and Mother Earth below as the Fifth and Sixth Directions.

4: Form Your Intent
Having invoked the Four Directions, it is important to form the group’s collective intention—what you desire or expect to accomplish. Intent is a kind of decision making that directs the focus of our attention. It is through our attention that we influence and direct the aspects of our experience and the world around us.

5: Prayer Round
The next step is to commence the first or prayer round of drumming. All participants should focus their attention on the group intention or goal during this round of drumming. It is the responsibility of the facilitator to set the tempo. A steady, metronome-like pattern with precisely regular intervals, at around three beats per second, is the most effective. This rapid ‘eagle-beat’ creates the sensation of inner movement, which, if you allow it, will carry you along. It is projective in nature and carries your intention, prayers, and awareness into the spirit world that underlies and sustains our physical reality.

6: Finding Unison
The time-frame for this varies from ceremony to ceremony. It is best to trust your intuition in this process. When leading a group, I move the beater around the drumhead until I find the sweet spot and my drum begins to sing and hum. Eventually, I can hear the sound of my drum moving around the circle, resonating through each person’s drum. The drums begin to sing in unison and the experience is indescribable. I sense that each person is connected to the spirit world. I try to hold this energy dynamic for as long as possible. This climactic phase eventually wanes and the drums start doing their own thing again. This is usually the point where I signal the end of the first round of drumming with four thundering beats.

7: Healing Round

Once the group intention has been introduced, commence the second or healing round by drumming the pulsating lub-dub, lub-dub of a heartbeat rhythm. Stroke a steady heartbeat rhythm at around two beats per second. This magnetic pulse draws power from the spirit world into the drum circle. Each participant should clear his or her mind of everything. You must surrender all attachment to the desired outcome to achieve success. It is best to close your eyes and focus on the sound of the drums. Let the drums do the healing. The drums will shape available energy into a powerful vortex that will spiral out into the fibers of Mother Earth’s web. When you feel the power ebbing, signal the end of the healing round with four booming beats.

8: Giving Thanks
Commence the final or thank you round of drumming with the even cadence of the eagle-beat. Sustain a tempo of three beats per second for one to five minutes. Participants should give thanks for the needs met and the needs they are asking to be met.

9: Closing the Circle
Finally, signal the end of the drumming with four resounding beats. It is important to conclude the drumming circle by rotating counter clockwise, thanking each of the Directions for their participation and assistance. This counter clockwise movement will close the energy vortex and signal that the sacred time of focus is ended.

I have found these basic steps to be very effective in a myriad of situations. Feel free, however, to adapt them to serve your own needs. Rhythm is a very personal thing. Experiment with different tempos and rhythms. My intention is to provide a foundation upon which the reader can then build.

Biography:
Michael Drake is a nationally recognized writer, rhythmist, and shamanist. He is the author of The Shamanic Drum: A Guide to Sacred Drumming and I Ching: The Tao of Drumming. Michael’s journey into rhythm began under the tutelage of Mongolian shaman Jade Wah’oo Grigori. For the past 15 years he has been facilitating drum circles and workshops nationwide. To learn more, visit Michael’s web site at: TalkingDrumPub

The Shaman’s Path The Adventure Of Self Discovery

Submitted by Howard Charing

There is considerable discussion and opinion on what a shaman is. The word itself is rooted in the word šaman from the Tungus people in central Asia. Definitions vary greatly in modern society. Do these ancient ways of viewing the world have any relevance for people in modern society?

“Creation consists of the emanations of the Eagle. There are forty eight distinct emanations of the Eagle, of which humans through our ordinary perception can perceive two of them.”

Don Juan – the Yaqui Indian and teacher of Carlos Castaneda.

There is a lot of discussion and opinion on what a shaman is. The word itself is rooted in the word šaman from the Tungus people in central Asia. Definitions vary greatly in modern society, this varies from people who enjoy trancing out to music at dances and ‘tribal’ gatherings calling themselves shamans to a very precise definition as per Mercia Eliade who in his book Shamanism – Archaic techniques of ecstasy specifically defines the term shaman as distinct from medicine man, sorcerer, healer, diviner, magician, herbalist and so on. Eliade’s specific differentiation is that the shaman who may be and practice all of the above is defined as, “the shaman specialises in a trance during which his soul is believed to leave his body and ascend to the sky or descend to the underworld”. This definition is sometimes employed in a strict sense, and appears to me to be limiting in scope. To me a shaman means more than that definition.

To quote Joan Halifax from her book Shamanic Voices; “The shaman, a mystical, priestly, and political figure emerging during the Upper Palaeolithic period and perhaps going back to Neanderthal times, can be described not only as a specialist in the human soul but also as a generalist whose sacred and social functions can cover an extraordinarily wide range of activities. Shamans are healers, seers, and visionaries who have mastered death. They are in communication with the world of gods and spirits. Their bodies can be left behind while they fly to unearthly realms. They are poets and singers. They dance and create works of art. They are not only spiritual leaders but also the judges and politicians, sacred and secular. They are familiar with cosmic as well as physical geography; they know the ways of plants and animals, and the elements. They are psychologists, entertainers, and food finders. Above all, however shamans are technicians of the sacred and masters of ecstasy.”

Leo Rutherford in his book The Shamanic Path Workbook also sees a shaman from an inclusive and holistic perspective. He defines a shaman as “someone who has fully walked the path of transformation and chosen to become a healer, helper, seer, prophet, in service to the people”.

The most important and consistent point in all the above views is the emphasis on community, whether healing, divining, or prophesising, it is done in service to others. Shamanism is not shamanism if done in isolation.

Contemporary Shamanism

Shamanism has always been a way for living as humans in relationship to all things on our planet Earth. Some thousands of years ago at the dawn of human civilisation a quantum change happened to this way of being. It was not the introduction of religion but something far more powerful, the shift from a hunter gathering and ad-hoc horticultural society to agriculture. This change had enormous consequences. From being in relation to all things; we became the ‘managers’ of the living world. The ways of animal husbandry, crop rotation and irrigation of fields led to permanent settlements, the human tribes no longer had to follow the migration of the animals and foraging for plants, we could have it all in one place! The early civilisations started, from where the social and religious structures, systems, and worldviews (many of which we still experience today) came into existence.

The ancients knew and experienced that there is an energy normally invisible, which connects all that exists, and they lived with the knowledge of this energy and how to use it. This concept of the inter-relationship and understanding that man is a part of nature, not separate to it, a part of the connecting energy has been expressed in many ways and in many cultures but unfortunately not in ours. As Chief Seattle said in 1855 in his address to the American Congress.

“What befalls the Earth befalls all the sons of the Earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web he does to himself.”

The separation in Western society from the natural world with it’s accompanying myth of man having “dominion over all living things”, has led to spiritual disconnection from the universal energy field. At some level we are aware of this, and many are experiencing a heart-led desire to reconnect to the universal field of energy and consciousness which we are part of.

Many people are being drawn to spiritual paths such as shamanism as one of the ways to meet this deeply felt desire, to heal the pain of separation, and rejoice in the ecstatic beauty and possibilities of simply being alive on this rich and beautiful planet.

Shamanism contains time tested healing practices, ceremony and teachings to support people in this re-balancing of themselves. These practices are fundamentally healing, not only for the physical body but also for our inner sense of being and our soul. However the challenge is to build a bridge between the ancient wisdom and practices in such a way as to be useful, effective and meaningful to the modern Western individual.

One of the most significant separations between modern Western approaches and the shamanic approach is one of perspective i.e. between energy and physicality. From the shamanic perspective you could say that we (and everything else) are fields of energy, and the actuality that we experience as the physical world is but the description of our physical senses rather than being an absolute inherent fact. In some respects quantum physics is now pointing in the same direction, as have the ancient shamans for forty thousand years.

In shamanic Healing we work with energy. Another word for this energy is life-force, soul, or the ‘vital nature’, and in shamanism there are many traditional ways of healing working with soul or life-force. It comes to fundamental questions and challenges to what is reality. This fundamental conception is so vast, that it seems that it can only be described in terms of metaphor.

“Nature shows us only the tail of the lion. But I do not doubt the lion belongs to it even though he cannot at once reveal himself because of his enormous size”.
~ Albert Einstein ~

The Path of the Shaman

The distillation of shamanism in the 21st century is the recognition that we and our god (whom we have made in our image) are not separate from creation, but discrete aware elements in a vast unending timeless ocean of consciousness and energy, and that we are all connected to each other, simply because we are each other.

All the traditional and indigenous shamans that I have encountered share one unifying characteristic, they will do whatever is required to help a person into health and well-being by catalysing in one way or another that persons inner belief system, to guide change in that persons reality so that they come to feel and ‘know’ that they will get well. This is just as important as the ‘real’ and tangible medicine work. They know that we are greater than we have been led to believe we are, and can influence and co-create our ‘reality’. Creative visualisation and other practices to influence the unfolding of our lives are not new-age, they are very much ‘old-age’ and belong to all of us. If we go back in our ancestral lineage, you would find that we all came from shamanic cultures, it is our birthright.

One of the beautiful aspects of shamanism is that it is a true spiritual democracy; there are no priests, no hierarchy. We all have the same rights of access to the universal field of love, life-force and consciousness because that’s where we are at. We have just forgotten it.

Howard G. Sharing is a partner in Eagle’s Wing Centre for Contemporary Shamanism. His initiation into the world of Shamanism was sudden, which was caused by a serious accident, which resulted in severe injuries and a near-death experience. After many months of physical pain and disability, he had a transformational experience, which started him on a path to healing. If you like to know more about his work, Howard conducts “Plant Spirit Medicine” journeys to the Amazon Rainforest.

History Of Shamanism

By Viola Woolcott

Shamanism is deeply connected to nature as well as the abundance of our Earth’s teachings. It is the oldest form in which humanity has sought connection with creation. It is the oldest way of healing the individual, dating back as far as to the Stone Age.

Aspects of shamanism were encountered in later, organised religions, generally in their mystic and symbolic practices. Greek paganism was influenced by shamanism, as reflected in the stories of Tantalus, Prometheus, Medea, Calypso among others, as well as in the Eleusinian Mysteries, and other mysteries. Some of the shamanic practices of the Greek religion were later adopted into the Roman religion.

There is a strong shamanistic influence in the Bön religion of central Asia, and in Tibetan Buddhism. Buddhism became popular with shamanic peoples such as the Tibetans, Mongols and Manchu beginning with the eighth century. Forms of shamanistic ritual combined with Tibetan Buddhism became institutionalised as the state religion under the Chinese Yuan dynasty and Qing dynasty. One common element of shamanism and Buddhism is the attainment of spiritual realisation, at times mediated by entheogenic (psychedelic) substances.

The shamanic practices of many cultures were virtually wiped out with the spread of Christianity.

In Europe, starting around 400 CE, the Christian church was instrumental in the collapse of the Greek and Roman religions. Temples were systematically destroyed and key ceremonies were outlawed. Beginning with the middle ages and continuing into the Renaissance, remnants of European shamanism were wiped out by campaigns against witches. These campaigns were often orchestrated by the Catholic Inquisition.

The repression of shamanism continued as Christian influence spread with Spanish colonisation. In the Caribbean, and Central and South America, Catholic priests followed in the footsteps of the Conquistadors and were instrumental in the destruction of the local traditions, denouncing practitioners as “devil worshippers” and having them executed.

In North America, the English Puritans conducted periodic campaigns against individuals perceived as witches. More recently, attacks on shamanic practitioners have been carried out at the hands of Christian missionaries to third world countries. As recently as the nineteen seventies, historic petroglyphs (prehistoric rock drawing) were being defaced by missionaries in the Amazon.

It has been postulated that modern state campaigns against the use of psychedelic substances are the offshoot of previous religious campaigns against shamanism. Today, shamanism, once universal, survives primarily among indigenous peoples. Shamanic practice continues today in the tundra’s, jungles, deserts, and other rural areas, and also in cities, towns, suburbs and shantytowns all over the world. This is especially widespread in Africa as well as South America, where “mestizo shamanism” ( combined ancestry) is widespread.

Many recent efforts have been made trying to link shamanic practice and knowledge with Western, scientific beliefs. Anthropologist Jeremy Narby has proposed that shamans take their consciousness down to the molecular level, working with DNA and viruses that they see as the twin serpents or malicious “darts”. The holomovement theory proposed by David Bohm is often seen as an approach to create a scientific foundation for concepts such as parallel worlds and alternative ways to traverse time and space.

Three Worlds Non Ordinary Reality

By Viola Woolcott

We live in a world of duality. A world of the seen as well as the unseen. Many traditions talk of three worlds. The lower world, the middle world and the upper world. The Shaman sees these worlds as connection to the world tree. As a bridge that connects these three worlds. It is on this tree that the spirits pass from one world to the other.

From both traditional societies as well as in modern shamanic circles, the world tree is a common image of the connection between things in shamanic experiences. The shaman being a cosmic traveller ‘walks’ between these worlds, reads the signs as well as the visions he has which are offered to him in this waking twilight. With all of its beauty and danger, it is an introduction to the ancient ways of walking between the worlds.

The world tree represents power and courage and it forms the completed parts of the shamanic universe. It is also is the centre of the world, but paradoxically – paradoxes are rife in shamanism – the centre of the world is also anywhere and everywhere. This line of thinking allows shamans to know the tree situated outside his door is the world tree. It is used in the initiation ceremonies linking the world of humanity with the world of the spirits. Shamanic rituals and performances frequently feature world trees symbolically. In these rituals the shaman or medicine man performs in an altered state of consciousness, his feet in both realities, therefore the symbolic object becomes the world tree and where the ritual is taking place become the centre of the world.

The three worlds are equally important. None is above the other.

Maybe you like to read these related links:
Lower World, Realm of Ancestors and Spirits
Middle World, Parallel Non-Ordinary Version of our World
Upper World, Real of Gods and Teachers

Huichol Indians And Their Rituals Future Of Earth

By Ina Woolcott

“When the world ends, it will be like when the names of things are changed during the peyote hunt. All will be different, the opposite of what it is now. Now there are two eyes in the heavens, Dios Sol and Dios Fuego. Then, the moon will open his eye and become brighter. The sun will become dimmer. There will be no more differences. No more men and women. No child and no adult. All will change places…”
Huichol Proverb

The Huichol Indians live isolated, high in the Sierra Madre mountains of northwestern Mexico. These indigenous people have preserved the most pure pre-Colombian culture. They call themselves ‘the healers’. For centuries they have carried out ceremonial rituals they believe heal the Earth and keep nature balanced.

The Huichol shamans say that we are perdido, lost, and that we are destructing Yurianaka, Mother Earth, and that Taupa, Father Sun, is approaching earth to purify it. They feel troubled about the future of their children and of all of earths inhabitants. Great ceremonies are taking place, with shamans from many areas attending to try and “hold up the sun.” However, they know they cant do it alone – they are not the ones destroying our shared home, mother earth. It is the ignorant ones amongst us, the ones who need to stand up and take responsibility for their actions, to find their lives. The earth belongs to us and our children. We need to show respect and do what we can before it is too late.

The purpose of the Huichols sacred pilgrimage to the holy land of Wiricuta is to find their lives. Peyote is used ritually in their ceremonies to do this. Their ancient knowledge of the sacred gives them the ability to ‘change channels’ and access ‘state specific information’ only accessible on the wavelengths of specific channels. They do not change channels to escape, or for recreation, to get lost in imaginary hallucinations that have no basis in reality. Their aim is to get a more precise interpretation of the nature of reality, gaining access through the nierica into the supernatural other-world always present beneath the limited, material world of the sensory. They see the non-material energy that is all around us and contained by every-thing in varying degrees.

Information that is gathered is used for the healing and the power that can be used here in ’ordinary’ reality to better their lives and the lives of their people. Depths of mystery are accessed that are not to be taken on the light shoulder, for the mystery is all about power and power can reveal itself in many ways. Out of respect, the Wisdom Elders are attentive to this power and communicate with it in all its manifestations. From this base of phenomenological data of mind in nature, nature in mind, they came to learn the order and structure of life’s connectedness, and that all things are dependent upon each other and hence are related. They recognise that a universal life force, kupuri” flows through all of nature’s creations, offering the world great wisdom as we approach the unknown future. Their advice is that we must realise the fragility of the Earth and be stewards for life that dwells upon it, to seek the healing power in nature and to be of one heart with all things. We ALL, every last one of us, must learn to share the tears of every living thing, to feel the pain of the wounded animal, the crushed blade of grass, the wounded war victims. Every-thing is raised to the status of sacred, and remaining in harmony with ALL of creation is done at all costs- when this is NOT done and respected, damage that cannot be undone happens, this is facing the world today. As you sow, so shall you reap…

The Huichol are well known for their stunningly beautiful, intricate yarn paintings and bead work. When producing a yarn painting they ingest peyote so that they can journey with and talk with the spirits. It is very important to see the reindeer in their journeys, as this means that they are in contact with the Gods. Their communication is sacred. The artist uses what was witnessed to make these paintings.

To view some of their artwork: Huichol Art

Related link: Peyote, Visions and Alternate Reality

Trance Dance

By Viola Woolcott

We find evidence of dance from the beginning of recorded history. From the ancient Shamans to the modern day Shamans, Trance Dance has been a unique combination of healing sounds, vigorous and purposeful percussive rhythms as well as transformational breathing skills. Our ancestors in this ancient time, viewed nature as well as its elements as an expression of God. A Trance state promotes spiritual awakening, physical stamina, emotional well being as well as mental clarity. The dance is an act of worshipping and healing supported by unique musical soundtracks specifically for this type of healing.

To stimulate inner visions and to reveal hidden messages as well as answers to the many life’s questions a blindfold or bandana is used. The blindfold symbolizes solitude. It shuts down the major source of distractions to the brain, so maximum concentration can be achieved.

The origin of the dance was copying nature through movement as well as sounds. It was the first and highest way to connect with spirit. Trance Dance is the doorway to the soul. It takes you on an inner journey. You enter the inner aspects of the self and explore the body, mind and spirit connection which is not limited to your normal perceptions of time and space. There are no expectations, once awakened, the inner self knows the steps, as spirit takes over, so anyone can do it. The journey is not in your head or mind, it is a journey into your heart.

For thousands of years, a vital part of shamanic and eastern dance cultures have been ritual trance journeys. Shamans danced to enter the consciousness or become the spirit of the sun, the moon and various animal and plant life. They believed that the spirits within nature could empower them with compassion, courage and reveal insights into the future. Indigenous people have used this practise worldwide. Spirits are invited to give the visions or the healing to the people in need, to return home the lost “Soul Parts”, to bring about spiritual wholeness.

Lower World Realm Of Ancestors And Spirits

By Viola Woolcott

The lower world is the realm of ancestors and spirits. The lower world is based in the natural world and it is the deepest aspect of our Soul. The root of our deepest thoughts and emotions. It is a beautiful, earthy dimension, where we can connect with power animals. Since the beginning of time it contains nature’s secrets which are instinctual to our nature. This is where all that exists happens. Where the power of the earth, its elements and its kingdoms can be encountered. Where wisdom as well as power may be brought forward into life itself. Every thought and idea planted and cultivated by humans throughout history are imprinted in the Lower World. Here is where the light within the earth may be accessed to bring growth as well as healing.

Travelling deep into the lower world is a sacred journey of initiation for the shaman. To retrieve their power, the shaman makes their descent into the lower world through powerful dreams or through altered states of consciousness.

The portal into the lower world can be entered through an opening like a hollow tree, a cave or maybe even a deep pool. Bringing back the visions from their journeys to their tribes, they will be acted out through sacred rites as well as ceremonies.

To describe the lower world, modern psychology uses the term “collective unconscious“. The lower world is where powerful archetypes dance with the elements of nature and where our personalities today are still influenced.

It is believed that the lower world is the land where fairy stories are set, where Alice’s Wonderland as well as many other cartoons are based on.

Upper World Realm Of Gods Teachers And Guides

By Viola Woolcott

The upper world is an ethereal, bright place. The light tends to be translucent and pastel coloured. It is the world of the gods, of cosmic beings, spirit guides and elders who normally appear in human as well as angelic form. It is not as earthy and practical as the lower world, as their help and guidance is more general and more philosophical. The upper world is a spiritual realm which within itself contains the stars. The world where the blueprints of life can be seen.

In travelling to the upper world, we travel upwards. In order to get there you travel through a membrane which can appear like a cotton wool cloud. The realms are all linked and if you travel infinitely up the upper world, it eventually loops around to the Lower World.

The upper worlds are where you find your teachers and your guides. Where teachings about healing and identity are found with the help of guides as well as the lessons of mutual responsibilities.

The upper world is the realm, where the shaman negotiates with the gods. This world is mainly entered in the most dire cases, for example a deathly illness.

The three worlds are connected and are equal. One would not exist without the other.

Medicine Wheel

By Ina Woolcott

The Medicine Wheel of the Native Americans is symbolic of their spirituality and of the unique, individual ways we go to find our path – a journey of truth, harmony and peace. It is the symbol of the wheel of life, a never ending circle, life without end, forever evolving and bringing new lessons. The Earth walk is built on the understanding that every creature must stand on every spoke of the great wheel of life numerous times to know those truths. and that all directions are to be honoured and respected. Until one has walked in others’ moccasins, or stood on their spokes of the wheel, they will never truly know their hearts.

The medicine wheel helps us with our ‘vision’, to see where exactly we are and in which areas we need to develop in order to realise and become our potentials. It shows us that we are ALL connected and shows us the intricacies of the interwoven threads of life and what our part in it all is. It aids us understanding that without our place in the tapestry the bigger picture would not be as it should be. We ALL bring colour, dimension and life to each other, to all of life. It does not matter what colour, race or creed we are, we ALL need to create a beautiful existence and expression of the Whole. The medicine wheel is a tool to be used to uplift and better mankind, to heal and re-connect with the infinite. Every-one is a realisation of ‘God’ trying to realise self…so find out what part you yourself are.

The Medicine Wheel contains the 4 sacred colours and 4 cardinal directions. Also represented by the circle is the ‘circle of life’, with the centre of the circle representing the ‘eternal fire’. flying toward the east is the eagle symbolising vision, endurance and stamina and also the renewal of life and rebirth of the Cherokee Unity.

The 4 sacred directions and cardinal colours of the Medicine Wheel and their meaning are as follows:

1. East is red – this colour/direction represents spring and stands for victory, success and power. Spring is the re-awakening after an extended sleep – the victory over winter and the power of re-newed life.

RED was the colour of the Native Americans war club which was used to against enemies, and also the one for protection. Red beads were used to call upon the red spirit to guarantee a long life, to get better from illness, for good luck in love, for ball play as well as other undertakings where the benefit of the magic spell was required.

Animals of the East are animals of wings and flight including the hummingbird, the owl, and the hawk. Our words are given to the east that the smoke in the air or the voices in the air may be carried to Spirit.

2. North is blue – this colour represents the winter and also defeat, failure, trouble, disappointment, unsatisfied desire and sadness. This is a season of waiting and surviving. The Cherokee word for North literally means cold.

Uttering the words ‘they shall never become blue’, conveyed the belief that one would not fail inanything they did. When doing a love charm, a lover would literally cover himself in red and pray that his rival would turn entirely blue and walk in a blue path. The meaning of being entirely blue has the same meaning as the common English saying, ‘feeling blue’. The blue spirits resided in the North.

Animals of the North include the white buffalo, Moose and Bear. Each of these prepares themselves to have a layer of fat to sustain them through the winter. They are also the primary source of meat during the winter season for the Native Americans. They know not to waste energy, resting and taking things slowly with the knowledge of what winter brings.

3. West is black – (beaver) this colour/direction represents the autumn and stands for death. Autumn brings with it the final harvest and is the end of life’s cycle.

The enemy’s would be constantly beaten by black war clubs and enveloped in a black fog. When calling upon spirits to destroy an enemy, shamans used black beads and called upon the black spirits that lived in the west, asking them to tear out the enemy’s soul and carry it to the West to be put it in the black coffin deep in the black mud, with a black serpent coiled above it.

Animals of the west -the Beaver shows us the team work and preparation required for the upcoming coming. Snake reminds us to shed our skin to change and grow

4. South is white- this direction/colour represents the summer and stands for serenity, growth, fire, passion, fertility, happiness and peace. Summer is also the time of abundance.

In ceremonies such as the Green Corn Dance and ball play, white food would symbolically be indulge in and after the dance or game the white path was taken to their white homes. The stones pipes anciently used to sanction peace treaties were white. White beads meant all was happiness when used in bead conjuring. The White spirits resided in the South.

Animals of the south represent pride, strength and courage – eagle with his keen sight and strong wings, lion with his strength and courage to speak out, the wolf proud to be part of the pride.

Also, there are 3 further sacred directions:

1. Up above is yellow
2. Down below is brown
3. The Centre is green – the place of the sacred fire, which lies in the centre of their paths.

There are also 2 sacred numbers to the Cherokees – 4, as it represents the four primary directions, and 7, as it represents the 4 primary directions and the 3 sacred directions. 7 also represents the seven ancient ceremonies that composed the annual Cherokee religious cycle.

In experiencing the Good Red Road that goes form South to North in the medicine wheel, one learns the lessons of physical life. After leaving the physical plain and experiencing death, one goes on to the Blue or Black Road, the world of the grandfathers and grandmothers. Here, in spirit, one continues to learn by counselling those left on the Good Red Road. The Blue Road goes from East to West. The medicine wheel is life, afterlife, rebirth and the honouring of every step along the way.

What Are Spirits Part 2

Submitted by Bob Makransky

If you are serious about becoming a magician, then this is where you should start. It’s actually quite easy to learn to channel (easiest during lunar planetary hours). The chief function of spirit guides is to act like cornermen in a boxing match.

When you’re completely exhausted and life has really knocked you for a loop, they’re there to say: “You can do it! You’re doing great! Just get back in there and go another round!”

How spirit guides teach depends on the person they are teaching. Sometimes they hand out information for free, particularly when they spot an opportunity that must be grasped at once. Because they see things with such clarity, guides can give detailed explanations of everything you might want to know about your life and relationships.

Generally spirit guides are there to encourage people to figure things out and take responsibility for themselves. In my own case my guides use a lot of trickery, encouraging me to make an ass of myself, since this seems to be the only way I really learn anything (lose expectations).

Different spirits communicate in different ways. For example, my own spirit guides talk to me via automatic writing, in words in my head. It’s just like having a conversation with another person, except that it’s written rather than spoken. I can only hear my spirit guides talking to me directly when they’re yelling at me for having screwed up somehow.

My wife, who is much more psychic than I am, is able to hear them talking to her directly when she channels them. Another friend of mine, who is even more psychic than my wife, is able to hear them conversing amongst themselves.

I am a priest of the nine Mayan gods. When they have a message for me, they normally communicate with me in words in my mind, as my spirit guides do. But sometimes not; sometimes I just “know” what I’m to do; other times I just feel their mood (especially when they’re happy).

However, when the message is for someone else – for me to give to another person, or for me about another person – then they usually show it to me indirectly, by means of omens.

Omens are odd, unusual occurrences that have a symbolic meaning. My benefactress, the person who gave me the Mayan priesthood, has dreams in which the nine Mayan gods appear. She has told me that they appear to her as longhaired hippies. The only time one of the Mayan gods ever came to me in a dream he was wearing a three-piece suit.

However, Mescalito, the spirit of the peyote cactus, interacts with me on a much deeper level than my spirit guides or the Mayan gods do. I just know what Mescalito is communicating to me, even though there’s nothing verbal about it. Somehow or other it comes from what I take to be a very, very deep level.

The one time the Virgin Mary appeared to me I only felt her presence. I didn’t get a visual, nor did she speak. I had been looking for land to buy in a remote Mayan village, and as I walked around the village I was getting a lot of suspicion and bad vibes from the locals.

My spirit guides suggested that I go to the marketplace and buy a candle, and light it in the village church before the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe. I was to ask her to make a place for myself amongst these people.

When I did so I suddenly felt myself transported into the presence of a young woman – perhaps 20 years old at the most. This being was totally loving and compassionate, and she filled me with a sense of complete acceptance, nurturance, and joy.

Ever since that day I’ve prayed to her every morning to help me open my heart, even though I’m nominally Jewish. I was taught to reject Jesus, that that would be the ultimate betrayal of my roots, but nothing was ever said about the Virgin Mary.

On various occasions religious statues in churches and temples have come to life momentarily before my eyes. Indeed, that is precisely what religious images are designed to do. If you are interested in communicating with spirits, praying to statues or images representative of the spirits of your religion can be a fruitful place to begin.

There are also nature spirits, such as mountain spirits, cave spirits, water spirits, tree spirits, and so forth. These spirits can be the most helpful of all to budding magicians. Where spirit guides guide, nature spirits can actually transform us. This is the crux of the spiritual path, the difference between momentary inspiration and real, permanent change.

It has been said – for example by Buddhists and by Castaneda’s teacher Don Juan – that real transformation, true spiritual growth, is impossible without the help of a living, enlightened guru. This is true, but it’s not true.

Near-death experiences can do this for us in sudden fashion; and nature spirits can also do it for us in a slower, more relaxed manner. Nature spirits can actually get in there and work on us on our deepest, light fiber level, gently dissolving our lower selves and liberating our true feelings.

Nature spirits, particularly cave and mountain spirits, often have powerful personalities. They should be approached with the greatest respect. Although every cave and mountain has a spirit, not all of these spirits are useful to humans. Sometimes such nature spirits are indifferent. At other times they are inimical to humans.

For example, the San Pedro volcano on Guatemala’s Lake Atitlan has happy, loving vibes. The town of San Pedro just beneath it is a light, happy place. But the next volcano over, Atitlan, is cold and hard and forbidding. The town of Santiago, which lies beneath it, is kind of an uptight place – famous for its black magicians and sorcery, and the scene of several massacres during and after the recent guerrilla war.

In order to make use of water spirits, it is first necessary to find them. This is not that hard to do. In an arid or semi-arid area, any water hole or spring will house a water spirit. Ponds, lakes, and oceans in their entirety can be considered to house one large spirit.

Along rivers and streams you frequently find water spirits residing at spots where there are deep pools, waterfalls, rapids, or at bends in the river where there is a change in the vegetation or rock formations.

Water spirits also reside at spots that are particularly lovely, different, attention-getting in some way or other. You find them by feel. Water spirits are used for washing off our self-importance: bad moods, self-pity, and negative vibes that other people lay on us.

Rock spirits are found in a similar way: by the feel of the way they look. The vortices around Sedona, AZ are a good example. Rock spirits can stabilize you and give you strength. This is good for athletes training for a contest or soldiers going to battle. Rock spirits also give fortitude – good for women who are weak in pregnancy. They also buttress your discipline, staying power, tenacity, and self-confidence. It’s good to go to rock spirits when you need to be bolstered somehow; whereas water spirits are most useful when there’s something you need to wash off.

You should feel an attraction to the place where a nature spirit resides. If you don’t feel an attraction for the place, don’t use it, no matter how extraordinary it may look. It’s not that going to the wrong spirit will hurt you, although there are evil spirits out there. It’s just that if you don’t have an affinity with the spirit – feel a definite attraction or good feeling about the place – then it wouldn’t be able to help you much. A doctor may be an excellent practitioner, but if he doesn’t have an affinity with the patient then there’s not much he can do for him. The same is true of spirits.

The physical appearance of the spot where a nature spirit abides is a useful check, but it shouldn’t be allowed to be the only criteria. Just because a place looks gloomy or frightens us a little doesn’t mean we shouldn’t use it. Powerful spirits are always a bit frightening. They command respect, and will righteously punish disrespect. They can actually knock us around if we approach them in a casual or offhand way.

A good friend of mine, a magician, was once climbing a spirit mountain with his baby daughter in his arms. Evidently the mountain spirit felt that his mood was disrespectful, since near the top there was a sudden clap of thunder out of a blue sky.

My friend understood at once that he had blown it. He lost his footing and tumbled down. Since he was trying to protect the baby he couldn’t protect himself, and he broke his collarbone in three places. Since then he hasn’t been able to windsurf; and formerly he was the windsurfing champion of Central America.

The point isn’t that we must be in dour, super-serious moods to visit power places and nature spirits. Rather, we must approach them with respect. That’s all.

When you have found a likely nature spirit, i.e. when you feel that you’re in the right place, approach the spirit by making an obeisance. Approach it as you would a wise old person whom you are asking to help you. You can take it a little present, such as flowers or some object meaningful to you.

Try to feel the personality of that spirit, sense its energy. Is it an active, dominating male presence or a receptive, soothing female presence? Does it seem to be young and vigorous or old and placid?

Some of the feeling is usually reflected in the physical appearance of the place. The spirit will tell you what to do there. Whatever it is that you feel you should do, go for it.

Pay close attention to all your thoughts and feelings when you are in the presence of a spirit. In the beginning it’s difficult to tell which are our thoughts and feelings, and which are the spirit talking to us.

After a bit of practice it’s not hard to tell which is which. If you are in a relaxed, open state of mind in the presence of a nature spirit, then probably any thoughts or feelings you have are communications from the spirit. You would probably have regarded them as your own thoughts and feelings unless this fact was to be pointed out to you at the moment.

However, it doesn’t really matter if you can consciously channel the spirit talking to you or not. This is actually a sidetrack, since the real healing work that nature spirits do has nothing to do with thoughts or feelings. They deal with us on a much deeper level than thoughts or feelings.

So if you go to a nature spirit in good faith, with an open heart, the spirit’s power will heal you with every visit.

(excerpted from Magical Almanac free monthly ezine: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MagicalAlmanac)

Click here to read: What are Spirits? Part 1

Also click here to go to Dare 2B aware – because you are entitled to my opinion