“Turn, turn, turn... a time to dance, a time to mourn ...”
In this novel time of the unthinkable deaths to COVID-19 and the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by police, with in-home quarantines and social distancing, we have all been moved out of our usual patterns and many are feeling uncomfortable in these new circumstances. Perhaps we need to recognize that it is a time for mourning, as the song and proverb suggest.
The manner in which we mourn is typically implanted during our upbringing. Religious teachings and practices often go unquestioned as "this is the way it’s done." And yet these practices can leave some of the practitioners feeling that there must be something more.
Mourning often is weeping for one’s loss while one’s faith says the person has ascended to Heaven, surely an occasion for celebrating their joy at being released from earthly struggles.
Shamans enter dreamlike states in order to journey into the worlds that exist, connected to our own, which we all visit in our sleeping dreams. Shamans do not need to be snoring asleep in order to journey. The most common way we learn to journey is with a group. Typically, one person drums a steady, fast beat for a predetermined length of time or else the group may listen to a recorded track that might be drumming or rattling, it could be bells or the sound of running water. Each of these work well to allow the Shaman or trainee, to enter into a realm of mind where they may, by stimulating their imagination; gather information, communicate with guiding spirits or helpers, recapture lost parts of themselves, on and on. With a certain level of practice and proficiency, Shamans can help others in these same pursuits.
One way that seems particularly pertinent at this time is the ability some Shamans develop to communicate across the barrier of death with those who have left this earthly existence. I know of many people who have someone on the “otherside” whom they communicate with, often a parent, grandparent or other close relative.
It seems that the more matter of fact one is about such communications, the clearer they become. A calm, undistracted attention is all that is needed along with the intent to simply allow the communicated information to be received works for many people. A Shamanic journey group may just be your ideal setting to reach a place where such communication is possible.
So what is a Shaman’s way of mourning? In my lineage, we learn to help set the dead or dying person’s energy free. This means that we ourselves hold no strings or bonds on their abstract flight to Freedom. There is a particular technique anyone can use to facilitate the process.
One sits quietly and breathes smoothly: this is non-dancing. One recollects the person we are releasing from earth. We recollect everything about that person. One can start our remembering from the first time we met, moving forward in time to the present or one may do the reverse, start with our most recent interaction and move backward through our association. All the while one uses one’s in-breath to retrieve one’s own energy that was left with the person and with the out-breath; one returns the other’s energy freely and non-judgmentally.
The process is finished when there is no more emotional energy left hanging. You will have given that person the best send off you could, allowing them to be unburdened by this world that they may find joy in their new existence whatever that may be while keeping ourselves whole.
Will Bradley of Albany is retired, a Corvallis area native and lifelong mid-valley resident. Look for his post, "3 Seconds to Enlightenment" on Facebook at ShamanicSciences/EnergyDancing.
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