Shamanism & The Moving Mandala
This is my story: I am sharing here is because many of you have had synchronicities, visions, loss, spiritual crises, miracles, and illness, and are seeking to find a framework to put them in for understand your place in the bigger picture, as well as to bring compassion to your situation as a human being. Perhaps my story will help you to see how an ordinary person can find an energetic container to support change, and how it has a universal and fundamental set of laws or principles that are in harmony with the universe.
As a person whose first language of perception and action is energy, many people ask me why I chose shamanism as a form of expressing this particular kind of energy medicine:
This question is answered in my own destiny, as I confess I did not have the karma to consciously choose this particular path. Apparently my soul arranged that I would have an awakening through a shamanic initiation. As you know in hindsight many things point down the path, in my case a creative and seeking spirit, and the love of outdoors.
This shamanic direction came from three fates finding me, to change my life. An energy shift, a shamanic initiation, offered me a chance to connect deeply with our ancestors, to root me in the earth, and to develop contemporary means of taking this kind of connection forward for our time, through the mediums of light and energy and form.
For many people familiar with shamanism in the West, the idea of retrieving information from other realms may come with a sense of storyline or of inner symbolic imagery; the journey may cause the people involved to have an “ah-ha” of insight. That flash of insight is when the energy itself shifts, and that is the part I am most interested in.
For me the result of the journey is not only the story, but an inner knowing that the energy has changed. When the energy changes is when something real happens for the client and/or the shaman seeking to solve a challenge. The storyline helps, otherwise I would not be telling this one, but this story is more about helping the left brain understand the right than it is about my particulars. My story comes forward to help as an instances that led to understanding what we are experiencing at this time, and having a context for it. Your story will be unique and at the same time we will have something in common. Stories are engaging our rational and intuitive understandings at the same time, so that we can confirm a sense of belonging in the world. Indigenous people, traditionally more right brained in practice, need to explain the phenomena of life as well, but the story can be danced, as with the San of Botswana or it can be “enacted” as the old Haida tales, in a kind of sacred theatre.We do have more to us than the rational mind, and shamanism seeks to use the creative imaginary side of the brain for our benefit, because it is not a metaphor, it is a realty. And we cannot speak of it without including a sacred view of life.
The spiritual journey that we hear about in North America has been largely brought to us by Michael Harner’s work, and it has gifted many people who have very intellectual backgrounds with a bridge to understand the more intuitive side of the brain, and to give structure and meaning to the material that the journeyers retrieve.
I am very grateful to that ongoing body of work and to the practitioners that arrived at a place where this kind of journey could help many people, and therefore all beings; it is a brilliant synthesis of many styles from indigenous peoples around the world, adapted our Western-trained minds.
How Does the Shamanic Mandala Journey Work?
My own contribution in bringing East and West together, came through direct guidance and nearly thirty years of practice seeking different energetic landscapes and experiencing the energy of various cultures within those landscapes, so that I could bring some structure as well, to the energy being directed through movement, sound, colour and consciousness, all of which are aspects of light. Since we are energy beings, this sense of how it works can be useful not only responding to change, but in bringing it about.
When I go into a situation to seek, I need to empty my mind in order to let the answers come; the form in which they come may look like dancing, singing, chanting, mudras, felt shifts, and I receive sense impressions, words, and images as well. Often after the journey may write or draw, but the time spent in the timeless realm is where the energy is shifted from whatever I brought in with me, and was attached to, to releasing it and allowing something fresh to enter the space. I have had to learn to trust that it is whatever is needed at the time. This affects not only myself but my client and/or large gatherings of people who come together to re-balance and heal. I am using healing and re-balancing interchangeably.
Actually I think that we carry a template of wellness and wholeness and that time in the timeless, where we “forget” our conditioned selves, allows us to get out of our own way and let the soul recall what wholeness is; if the soul is experiencing this, it affects the body, which is being aligned with the soul. Because we are energy beings, we get primed to very high vibrations of light again when we enter a circle where intention to heal is being held. That is why the mandala form is useful for letting the interconnectedness and wholeness of our being come into consciousness. We journey into an eternal held space.
Moving Mandala & Mandala Dance
The mandala has inherent wholeness in its design. In Sanskrit it means circle. It is a sacred cosmic architecture which when entered, allows us to bring that sense of Oneness and wholeness to earth. The Moving Mandala uses the sacred geometry of a 12 point mandala for an energetic container, having 4 cardinal directions within the 12, and thirteenth point in the centre. The body’s chakras, right up to the archetypal level, hold the potential for us to shift energy as light beings. Those familiar with 3-d mandalas will recall how they can look, instead of the usual 2-d ones we see for contemplation. You can imagine yourself as part of a 3-d mandala with your energy centres radiating out to the 12 directions and yourself, in the centre.
The courses I have been teaching in the last decade or so have made the mandala principles accessible to people who might not be familiar with it and who are on the shamanic path. There are other ways to access the mandala practices, Vajrayana Buddhism being one of them, and I appreciate that those traditional lineages that are available through great teachers have come to the West. I do not need to borrow from them as if I were shopping, because we access the same source of wisdom, although we each have our own filters and training. It is not a competition, but a great design of co-operation and generosity that the universe is providing, giving us many ways to recall our true nature.
My sitting practice, which began before the shamanic path, has been invaluable as a way to stabilize i my mind, and I give thanks to those that have gone before me. After several years of doing my own mandala practice I also went to India to receive the Kalachakra, another mandala, in a location where the teachings originated through Shakyamuni Buddha; I tend to see the energetics of place that speak to me as well as the current offering that is being made.
During my years of seeking to understand, I have been deeply committed to Native American practices as well. One of the teachers spoke in the lodge one day, reflecting that he didn’t see a spiritual materialist and wannabe, he saw a person who had to go around the whole wheel in this lifetime and take the essence of that journey for the benefit of myself and all our relations. And we are all wannabes on another level, as the generosity of the indigenous people in sharing the medicine, has been remarkable, considering the chequered history of imperialist cultures interacting with various native cultures, going back to ancient times.
The Moving Mandala is only one way to train but it is a good way, with many, many shamanic journeys in it and thousands of air miles now. That is, when we co-ordinate our intention to join that cosmic template with the earth’s seasons, place of power and human energy centres, beneficial results have come about for many, many people, in different settings and continents. It is a young program compared to the mandala itself, which is older than time, but that means its roots go deep and that it is a contemporary expression of healing pouring into our time.
The Mandala Dance itself is where time and the timeless meet, where when we forget to be self-conscious and join the collective energy of the moment. With trained people, the Mandala Dance, which is a form of journeying, can bring a whole community to another level of awareness together.
Focused community experiences are necessary to build the kind of strength and courage that we need in this century. When we leave the Mandala Dance, we are more aligned within light, in soul and body, and with all those in the energy field within which we participate. An extension of the actual mandala journey is the mandala of our individual lives, the mandala of shamanic community and/or the mandala of the earth and heaven that resonates with different energies and awareness of the beings with which that we are dancing life.
The dance of life is not a metaphor, it is a reality, the dance of the atoms, of the particles smaller than the human eye, our emotions, our thoughts, our stories, our chemistry and biology, are all expressions of dancing light. This is my medicine.