Friday, January 25, 2013

Shamanic Soul Retrieval and the Lies of the Greedy

I am mostly easy to get along with.  I believe people should be able to make money doing whatever honest combinations of metaphysics they deem appropriate.  Just because a set of magical techniques might be a combination of other techniques, I would be the first to tell someone, “Great Job on the innovation and combination.” What I absolutely HATE, is when people try to sell techniques as ancient that clearly are not and hide the root derivations of the techniques they are using.  I am going to talk about Soul Shard retrieval in particular, what this means, and why most neo-shamanist approach are simply put Hypnosis.  BTW, I LOVE hypnosis an immense amount.  My  issue is there is a level of mastery and skill required to do this the way I learned things from my family and several teachers.  The different skill level and mastery required to do these techniques will be obvious, and why it is important that we as a community demand far more honest responses about the origin and use of some of these techniques.   I am going to specifically give details about soul-shard retrieval from both the neo-pop manner which is effective for many cases and the more difficult way I was taught.  I recommend that if you are using either technique, that you practice it several times before using it with another person.

What is a soul retrieval, or better soul shard retrieval.  The idea of a soul shard retrieval is that every traumatic event tears a piece of the soul of the shaman and does not allow for them to fully access their own power.  This technique is probably the most known technique associated with neo-shamanic thinking.  Soul shards can happen as a direct result of spiritual forces ( aka a magical attack ), emotional trauma or severe physical trauma( because of the emotional element).    The concept of a soul shard IS NOT universal to all shamanism any more then the concept of a world tree is.  However, because of Harner's Core Shamanism and the spin off drive to "make money off shamanism ideas", these concepts are considered "universal".  They are not universal and Harner are often not doing it in the way that develops the spiritual power of the practitioner because for the most part there "is no spirit".  The need and nescasity of spirit along with the difficulty of shamanic practice has mostly been abstracted away in a deluge of modernity.  Anthropologists have already weighed in on Harner in a negative way, so I need to go no further.  In a way they should correctly be called psychological, hypnotic or metaphor therapy and most importantly they do WORK.   Many people will get benefits from using these techniques, however, the purpose and emphasis is so far from what I believe most shamanism was about, that it is not the same.  

The soul shard idea however, is one that my family and Reiki trainers did stress.  In practice, it is a pretty dangerously powerful idea as I learned it.  Pop shamanism assumes the soul shard is merely an energy block or lost energy.  This, however, is not a well-defined notion.  What does it mean to have lost energy?  For pop psychological shamanism, this means there is a negative psychological habit that can be solved using a psychological technique of cognitive reframing usually implemented by regressing the subject within creative visualization.  If that process sounds a lot like hypnosis that is because it is.   Put a shaman's dress on that and you often have shamanic training.  If you believe that there are no spirits, and that is actually all shamans did, you might be convinced also of the innate savagery and ignorance of indigenous people as well.  No one wants to say that, because it’s fashionable to hate the modern world but love the assumptions in the modern world.

But there are a couple very strong beliefs that you could derive when you actually study anthropology on shamanic thought.  First, most cultures have a real and nuanced believe in spirits.  Spirits are real, and they can exist inside and outside you, sometimes at the same time.  Often times, it is the relationship that gives the Shaman strength.  Second, a shaman would use ecstatic states to find the solution for the tribe or the individual.    
Ecstatic states, sounds fantastic right?  I think so and I love them, however it was clear from the social structure and literature that not everyone had the ability to safely sustain the ecstatic states. Shamans were usually considered slightly odd and most would live on the outskirts of society.   Once the pandora’s box is opened, a person might very well have difficulty seeing the world in the same light.  Modern day psychonauts experience this, as do magicians, meditators and witches.   Sure many shamans would interact with the indigenous societies they were part of  but in a way they were outside of those cultures.  In the context of the modern world, that has no role for the shaman, ecstatic states might very well break someone’s ability to function in the “real” world.  The notion that everyone did this or that everyone should, simply is not historically supported nor is it supported in my own experience.  Real ecstatic states have the consequence that they change your mind, and that is very inconvenient in a highly mechanized society. 

 Now, I personally do not like the word Shaman, because the word should really be used in the context of a specific area in Siberia, but everyone generally knows what I mean.  

So back to the soul shard retrieval.

The Neo-Shamanic Way:  

Many people have told me that how they were taught to do a Soul Shard Retrieval was to guide the client back in time, have them relieve the traumatic experience, and either keep them going back to the experience which releases the trauma, or use another metaphor to help release the trauma.  In fact on Deeper Down the Rabbit Hole, I have had a few shamans tell me this method.  Each time I cringe.  This is formally called Regress To Cause and is a pretty well established hypnotic technique.  It is also amazing effective.  The technique originally derives from Freudian analysis although modern hypnosis can make this go faster.    This technique is very effective, and often I myself will use the technique.  It is not however, a shamanic technique.

You could use get most of the self-visualize skills needed for this technique and put it into a usable context from Hands-On Chaos Magic: Reality Manipulation through the Ovayki Current , but if you know something about self hypnosis, it really is akin to something like

1.   Go into Hypnosis/Trance
2.   Go Deeper into Trance
3.   Flow back into time possibly through a journey through the underworld ( or other             metaphor of world travel, for neo-shamanism).
4.  Method 1 ( which I do not like as much) Go to original trauma, keep repeating till the        person gets desensitized
5.  Method 2:  Use a metaphor to transform the event

Now in a neo-shamanic context, the metaphor is almost always power animals or something akin to a mystical metaphor.  These can be effective metaphors.

Andrieh’s Way:  

To me this does not meet the criteria of an Ecstatic journey.  It is very safe, and sometimes does not work.  It also removes the role of the shaman in the tribe.  Because we do not have tribes anymore, many experts will claim it is a good thing.  I do not agree.  It would be better if all the experts argued for a tribe again!!!  Putting a mystical spin on the very useful technique serves a purpose to aggrandize the technique.

Let’s assume for a minute, that spirits are real.  Let’s further assume for a minute that it is possible to splinter off part of your own essence.  Let’s also assume that part could in fact gain its own intelligence and possibly act on its own (since it is separated from the person).  Let’s further assume (and this is backed up by a lot of experience), that if a spirit had “gathered” that part it would have influence over the person, or possibly could continually draw more energy from the person.

 Now, with this there are more possibilities of what could happen:

The part is trying to survive on its own, or has been so rejected by the person that it is trying to function as its own entity.  It may have had some success, and now would not easily be re-assimilated.

The location of the shard is completely unknown to the person and might have been lost astral travelling during dream work, or magical attacks.

From a different perspective, the person can work through the psychological issues, and the fragmentation is mostly a psychological issue.  

The part has been “claimed” or is being controlled by another entity or set of entities.

Worse, the person made some sort of deal with some spirits, and there is a debt attached to the part of the essence.

There are probably multiple other possibilities.  I have in my experience seen the five above (and variants).  The Neo-Pop method most easily deals with problem 3, but ignores the other possibilites.

Now, part of the difficulty of the process is you never know what you are going to get.

So what I do:

1. Banish and cleanse my space.  I always feed the Ancestors and the Lwa too, and ask their protection (one does not really know what your going to get).

2. Using the energy sampling technique from Hands-On Chaos Magic: Reality Manipulation through the Ovayki Current   I take a bit of the person’s energy.  Mostly this is so I can get a strong impression of the real person.  It is not sufficient to accept your beliefs about the person, you need to dive in deep.

3. I will spend a good 30 minutes, just meditating with the person and their energy. Usually, I will ask the person to just sit still and breathe.  If I have any confusion, I will use divination to give me hints and suggestions while allowing my spiritual allies to offer suggestions.

4. I will then will launch myself to my astral stronghold (Hands-On Chaos Magic: Reality Manipulation through the Ovayki Current  has the basics of this) and then allow the piece of the person to guide me in my journey.  When I have done this, I usually am so deep into trance that if people try to wake me to suddenly,  it jars me.

5. Whatever happens, I run with the journey.  If I am brought to an aggressive spirit (such as a demon), I ask it what claim it has to the part (if any).  Usually even an aggressive or negative spirit, if it has a fair claim, will say so in my experience.  Otherwise they just growl at you or try to hit you.  If negotiation is possible, in the journey, I sit and negotiate for the person.   Even if it is a part of themselves that has been denied, I will negotiate.  Expressing love and support, and pulling that part back with me to the room, holding it with me.  If it’s a spirit that will not release it, I will fight for the person, to take it back (and sometimes that gets a little rough).   If the person is themselves skilled at this, they might be there with me, as it is possible to have multiple people on a journey, but it does take a little coordination. Sometimes a person has made a deal with a spirit when they were young as in a child (and they were tricked), and you just have to appeal to things like the Lwa, Guides, spirits and Angels to help fight for the person.  The person’s ancestors are GREAT too, if they are close enough and willing to help.  No matter, either a solution is found in the journey (a psychological metaphor to get the person better), or the shard comes back with the me (the hard or easy way).

6. Once the shard is back, I will use all the various techniques of sorcery, ceremonial magic, and Reiki to cleanse the shard of any impurities.  Often I will use a bottle, altar or even crystal as a temporary decontamination center.  This is really important, since if it has been with a hostile entity, there is a good chance that it will need healing.  Do the healing before integrating anything.  Keep the person in meditation.  If the shard has been rejected, I walk the client through mantra work and hypnosis to reintegrate the parts that I have retrieved usually by saying I love and I accept you.  If you need help with this, again, Hands-On Chaos Magic: Reality Manipulation through the Ovayki Current  has a ton of suggestions to work with shards of yourself.  The methodologies work with shards of other people as well.

7. Once cleaned, or accepted, the shard should energetically be moved over the person.  At this point, the person should say I love and accept you as they fell the parts re-integrating.  At this point, liberal use of healing modalities should occur on the person.  This could include Bathwork, Reiki, Prana work, angel work… but it should happen.

8. Again, I would use divinations to advise a course of action and double check the work.  The course of action particularly things the person should avoid is important.  The last thing I want to do is do exactly the same journey, if it was difficult.

Now, in practice, a shaman can get a lot of information from the Journey and as you get better with the technique, some of the information can get quite detailed.  It is not uncommon to find the person’s spiritual allies giving suggestions or an Ancestor pop up and have something to say that needs to get transmitted back to the person, because it is important.  Sometimes, the shard itself will come back with new information, having changed, and the integration process will cause the person to develop new abilities.  Sometimes, even going on the journey, and working the journey fixes other things in the person’s life just because the steps rework the person’s energy at very low levels.  The journey is not always to some far flung astral world.  Sometimes you are journeying to their microcosm.

Now using the technique I outlined requires a few pre-requisites 
The ability to maintain deep trance states possibly using different methods of trance.
Spiritual allies are helpful
More then basic energy manipulation skills
Understanding of protecting your own space
Astral Travel
Hypnosis is very useful in the integration stage.
Self-Healing techniques
Some divination skill

Most of these techniques are covered in Hands-On Chaos Magic: Reality Manipulation through the Ovayki Current   but I would anticipate that someone would have worked through most of the book before they could confidently pull off this technique.  Now, before doing this for someone else, PLEASE, PLEASE, use this technique on yourself.    Seriously, get it down on yourself before even THINKING about doing it on someone else.  IT is a risky method.

Now I want to say, the Regress to Cause is a powerful and effective technique.  I use this all the time.  It really is a great technique.  My issue isn’t that those techniques are being used; my issue is that people are putting marketing over honesty.  This places the bar far too low for the skills we “shaman” should be developing and is a disservice to what we could achieve.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Floatation Tank Madness in Cleveland no less: Dissolve Adverse Reactions

Good enough for Timothy Leary
So I went over to the Optimal Wellness Center and they had a floatation tank.  Of course, being me, I decided to float.  This isn't my first time floating in an isolation tank, but I havent had access to one in a long time.

So before I got in to the experience, I thought I would give a little bit of information on Optimal Wellness Center in Lakewood Oh.  This is a nice clean place.  If your in Cleveland, its worth going to.  My complaints partially stem from it being too sterile/medical.    They are great at keeping things efficient and the water levels consistant.  I really miss the little extras like I got at Space Time Tanks in Chicago.  Stuff like red light dimmer so you come out and its not like light system shock.  Essential Oil diffusers and some meticulously laid out altar like decorations).  Of course,  if you went on the wrong day at Space Time, the water levels were just off enough so your butt would touch the bottom.   It makes a big difference when you have the build of a Offensive lineman or Biker dude.   One inch of water is killer.

They make you sign a waiver of course basically stating if you loose your shit, its your problem and second don't do any Timothy Leary/Altered States ass shit in there, not that I would ever do some Timothy Leary type experiments... Me. No... Never.. Absolutely Not, inconceivable.  Just would never happen.  Got to be someone else, who might do that.

My experience was weird this time.  I stepped in their and immediately had all these bullshit concerns.  What if the water got in my ears and hurt my sinuses?  What if this happened?  Mind you, I am not a noob, I have done this before several times.  It has been a rewarding experience every time.  And as I said, there was no Timothy Leary experiments going on, seriously.

I close the door on the Floatation Talk and get lay in the water.  I literally FREAK out.  I have a pretty heavy viseral, and hard core panic attack.  I am neither claustrophobic or afraid of the dark.  Your fine narrator, Papa Vitimus however, does not really give in to that.  I had the tools, technology, magic and Will.

Although an isolation tank may amplify the reaction, this can happen in meditation, in hypnosis, in breath work, or even Gigong.  I being me, was absolutely going to get in the tank and enjoy it.

What is an Adverse/Ab-Reaction Reaction?

What I had, was in hypnosis terms called an abreaction.  Before going into the tank, I performed a Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram and then Prayed to Papa Legba to keep me safe.  I have on occasion went on a astral journey that wasn't complete safe.   While its possible to have a real spiritual encounter while in the tank, that isn't what initially happened to me here.

Before I continue, I have to give a little background as to help you, my most excellent reader, understand the what and why of an adverse reaction.  I have been under enormous stress do to a situation well to be blunt, is really my friend's major issue.  It is not a thing that I can easily walk away from.  This stress has been really taken its toll physically and there were other issue that lead into a reaction.  What I do is center, ground, and keep the chrakra's working.  I also have this little trigger, I call it the overload trigger.  

The overload trigger, is a "this situation is too hard for a human to deal with", so simply any negative emotion ( and some positive ones ), just go to off.  This kinda of thing lets me power through difficult situations cool headed.  It works 99.9% of the time, since I do not add to the situation, and seek out clear headed resolution, find the opportunity for the road to a different situation.  If you focus on the bad, you miss the road.  In this case, I had been doing that sort of, let's just turn this off for a while, for way too long.

Relax, rest, recover you say.  Oh really. My subconscious mind would HAVE none of that.  Fully supported by the water in a dark place, F@#@$# that.  Basically, the universe is a nasty place, people are horrible cruel monsters and you  know that Andrieh.  Its like being told, no... your still in SIEGE mode and you still need to be in near adrenal land.  Hence,  red flag on field and the strong panic attack.   Did I mention, I had been doing this, just turn it off for a while.

Why the Adverse Reaction?

You wont like my subconscious mind
when its angry.
Pretty clear, that I can turn off the experiencing of those negative and frustrating for a pretty long time, it does work.  In this case, relax and rejuvenate was the mind was objecting too.  Because in a elevated stress state, I will adapt.

The Adverse reaction in meditation, Gigong, isolation tank visits or any of it, is a pretty clear message, that something isn't right in Demark.  I do not agree, that that is the time to end the session... No, now its time to do some heavy lifting and keep going.  This moments are real opportunities for transformation if you can stay with it. To me the reaction itself, was an opportunity for real change, so I took it.

The why of this is pretty simple.  The subconscious mind believes you either need something you are trying to get rid of, or that what you are doing will lead to certain DOOM.  It is in essence protecting you from yourself or you have hit a patch of badlands in the psyche.  A patch that can have little to do with what you are trying to do but might correlate to what work you have been doing.  It just doesnt have to be a linear cause and effect.

Transforming the Adverse Reaction

So in this situation what do you do.  Surprisingly, the single biggest trick is to breathe.  Realize a panic attack or adverse reaction cannot last forever.  

Step one, own it and keep going.  
Admit, hmmm, this is not a conscious thing and it is from and by myself. In the tank, I forced myself not to move at all.  I sat up, put my butt on that floor and breathed.  I almost got out of the tank a couple times, but reminded myself, STAY on point.  It was me and by me.  The tank wasn't flawed.  The water wouldn't destroy my sinuses, and it wasn't so cold ( 94 degrees), that I would get hypothermia.  All of these are reactions and basically mental tricks to from the subconscious to get you to move.  Ride it out.  

Step two:  Relax your way out of it.
Usually, just force yourself to sit still,breathe, and use all 5 of your senses to calm each muscle down.    Literally just focus on each muscle.
I cover this more extensively in

Energy Work, Meditation
Enchantment, Spirit Work
Yes its in there.

 I did exactly this and proceeded to progressively relax each body part in the darkness.  I won't lie, I am pretty experienced at meditation and it still took me a good 5-10 minutes.  My breathing calmed down as did the visceral reaction.

Step three:  Keep going and Adapt in your meditation 
Now, the ab-reaction is over, the meditation needs to continue.
Usually, when you get through the reaction you'll have other issues that pop up, and clarify the issue.
For me, I neck really hurt and different body parts hurt.  Like excessive stress and wear and tear from stress.  It didn't take long for me to realize that the continuing stress was having a negative impact.  That should be obvious, but when your under-siege you can work on adrenaline for a while.
In this case, the understanding was obvious but in other cases you might get a flash of something horrible that may or may not have happened   Its a clue.  I got tons of body issues ( and later in the meditation concluded it was Root Chakra issues (too much threatening of survival).  The important part is that you listen to all your senses for a clue.  If you are meditating, stay in the context (aka the room), ask yourself for some clues as to what is going on.

Step Four:  Actionable meditative steps
If presented with an imagine of sadness, focus on joy and love.  If there is a black ooze on your body  in your mind, concentrate or feeling that wash away in light.  Use all of your five senses, to really see, feel and know it gone.  Basically, use the opposite steps depending on the metaphor.  If their is a part of you giving you the metaphor, its also asking for a solutions.  Pay close attention.  Usually the reaction will start or be more severe in certain parts.  If you can isolate those, those are the areas that you use to really focus on.    Now, it would take me large parts of a book to really get into producing an emotional energy and focus.  Kinda like this book, right here.
Yes, I should really
finish writing a  new

An easy way is too simply focus on those body parts and remember times you felt the emotion.  See, feel, hear them and then imagine if all those sensations.  Even laughing, or smiling is usually sufficient to start working through the energy issues.  If a hostile form (which could be a metaphor or a spirit) steps in, simply imagine it dissolving in the light, or whatever is appropriate.  Again Fire dissolved by water, darkness by light, cold by heat, and so forth.  That might take a little while.  In an Isolation Tank, everything really is amplified.   Since I was giving mostly physical aches and pains, I focused on Reiki work and did the Reiki work to the extend that I was loosing tract of time.   For me, the idea is to work toward a certain stillness while in the tank, then you might have an OOB or other experiences.

While I was in the tank, stray thoughts would enter my mind, really why I was so upset.   They were related.  I would practice my zen meditation technique and acknowledge the thought and let it go.    Sometimes, I would get uncomfortable or a body part would ache.  Reiki till was comfortable and move on.    Time would pass very quickly then.  In the tank as I was clearing out the ache areas, I would soon after have somewhat strong Kundalini responses and the energy would spike up and through my whole body ( which with the water around, I was able to cool down).

Then in my mind, I was finally clear of the stray thoughts and SEE a clear image of an Ogun, and a non-verbal "get on this" aka work on getting the stress down, so you have better vitality.  Took the whole session to get there.  Not 2 minutes after,  knock knock. times up.

It happens.  Afterwords I felt very refreshed, and I would love to build one of the Floatation tanks in my home.

There is several lessons from this story, besides the obvious of deal with stress better.   First, these reactions are a way for the body to process shit, and detox it fast.   Take the opportunities, don't let the reaction stop you. Thats exactly what happened to me.  Second, just because you are meditating and doing what you think you need to, do not think that negative situations do not take their toll.  More stressful and toxic situations require possibly greater action.  Third, use the meditation tools itself to unravel the issues further, till you get clarity.

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