Shamanic journeying involves entering a parallel world through a meditative trance state to access clearer consciousness and receive accurate guidance on the life situations you’re facing.
Nature wisdom (in the form of elemental, animal and plant spirits) is a key source of guidance, but I help my clients accumulate a dreamteam of spirit guides that consists of angelic and mythical beings, archetypes, ascended teachers and masters, ancestors and any other symbol or metaphor that catalyzes healing and energizes transformation for them, their loved ones and their circles of influence.
A surprising guide
The Covid-19 virus — an atypical, but also not so surprising guide given the circumstances —showed up for me this week in my journeys.
This is not the first time a virus showed up as a guide for me. A few years ago, I sat with my kankantri tree, the giant of the Amazon rainforest, thinking that this guide would be able to offer me the most power and strength.
A tiny virus did a number on me by interchanging its microscopic self with the tree as if to remind me that it was just as powerful, something that I was well aware of growing up.
Nature has the last word
As I described in When nature has the last word, growing up in a hot, tropical climate, bacteria and viruses were daily threats that could do much more damage in the long run than scary looking, vicious or poisonous animals like snakes, crocodiles, jaguars, piranhas and poisonous frogs, even in areas deep in the jungle where the threat that these larger visible animals pose is very real.
The pandemic affirmed this notion. In a matter of months, there wasn’t a country or corner left in the world where it hasn’t made its towering presence known and wreaked havoc and heartbreak while at it.
Learning to embrace natural consequences
Kamala Harris’ comment a few days ago during her acceptance speech at the DNC reminded me of another teaching of nature guides. Their job is to be as direct and clear about the natural consequences of our behavior and denial of social and climate injustices.
From what I’ve seen, the more disconnected and the less dependent we think we are on nature, the more our ego-centric dominance blocks and blinds us to these truths, a self-defeating, but insanely popular coping defense that eventually backfires.
The question is: what will it take for us to realize this and change our ways?
As was said, viruses have no eyes yet are capable of seeing and revealing hard truths that we rather keep hidden in the shadows. The devastating but important truth it has us look square in the face: the racial, class and medical injustices and inequities that loom large in our country, along with Covid-19, disproportionately killed many more Black and people of color who were already gravely disadvantaged.
While it’s easy to presume this — Covid-19 is not the enemy. It’s the messenger.
It takes respect, vulnerable surrender, and humility (being of humus - earth) to clearly hear and receive guidance that comes through from nature, especially around situations that involve a lot of pain and cause us to feel helpless, lost and paralyzed.
It requires practicing gratitude - a Greatly Receptive Attitude - with an aligned ego-mind that doesn’t try to outsmart mystery or dominate nature but deeply trusts it — as in recognizing that we entirely depend on it for life and elemental harmony.
We are most equipped to do this when we honor and respond to the needs and inner wisdom that are communicated to us on an ongoing basis through the symbiotic relationship between our outer and inner climates and eco-systems.
A greatly receptive attitude helps us to surrender and acknowledge how limited our coconut brains are and how much more we need to expand and stretch our minds to live in harmony with the earth and magnificence of life.
One of the most mind-blowing discoveries while visiting a Saramaccan village in the heart of the rainforest in Suriname, my native country, with my family was how little blame Maroon jungle dwellers placed on themselves and on nature, even when terrible things happen.
That’s because it was clear that there was no human foul play or ill-will involved. Life is full of hardship and challenge but this in and off itself didn’t result in resentment toward it, nature or mystery in the way it does in the modern world.
We are trapped in modern day complexity and coping
We here in the West don’t really get to experience life in its fullest glory, without the generations of inherited human trauma that has trapped us in our own complexity— compared to the Maroons whose ancestors were originally from West Africa and escaped the clutches of slaveholders soon after their arrival.
Nature is to be reckoned with but not evil.
What I mean with no grudge held against nature is that the river is not seen as bad or evil should it drown your kids or kill someone. Neither are hungry piranhas, poisonous frogs, snakes or malaria mosquitos treating you as lunch or the enemy for disrupting their habitat. They and death are a part of a fair, just, sacred web of life and nature.
You as a human are also not to blame or perceived as bad when you depend on animals for food, run into trouble with nature or are unable to save yourself or someone from dying. You are also a part of the fair, just, sacred web of life in your highest expression.
This is the kicker. I believe that even “unschooled” Maroons embody more aligned human potential than we do.
There is an unspoken understanding that everyone is doing the best that they can to survive, live in harmony, and
learn from the many natural consequences that nature generously and mercilessly offers them to align and re-nature themselves should they derail.
This soul authority is much more of a trusted given in an environment where there is zero margin for error or snoozing. You wouldn’t survive very long if you didn’t do your part and didn’t take full responsibility to protect and sustain your life, well-being, joy, vitality, and sources of sustenance.
Privilege and comfort: A costly luxury
In a weird way, dodging these harsh lessons from nature has become a comfortable but very costly luxury in the US that really doesn’t have our best interests at heart.
It was bone chilling and at the same time extraordinary to hear (first-hand while standing at the exact site) how a gonini - a massive harpy eagle with a wingspan as wide as 7 feet and looking like a dinosaur raptor - had snatched up a small toddler a few years ago from a patch of cleared farm land while her parents were busy farming. These goninis prey on small monkeys, sloths and live animals and tragically lasered in on a child that day to feed itself and its young.
Their 7 inch spread of talons, larger than a grown man’s hand, found in the wild were lying around perhaps as a reminder of their presence and the danger they posed.
Deep acceptance: cycles of life and death
The grief about this event was real, but there was also a palpable deep acceptance of mystery’s ways, including death. There was no hatred or anger toward this gonini, no expressed desire to hunt or kill them or a sense of terror living in such close proximity with them. It wasn’t a spiritual bypass but one of many examples of our human potential and spiritual actualization when living in harmony with nature.
There is very little positive toxicity and opportunity to fester in good vs bad. Life was too much in flux, requiring your full presence and a sober response. Feedback whether or not you made an aligned or misaligned move would come soon enough.
Low death anxiety leads to full throttle living
After this horrific incident, all that the villagers did was built a cover for small children to hide under when their parents were too busy to protect them.
Their low death anxiety may paradoxically be the result of their refined 6th sense and skills in mindfully walking a tightrope and delicately balancing life and death on a continuous basis.
Children as young as 3 years old climb boulders near the roaring river like confident and agile lizards without any adult supervision.
From birth on, they learn to notice subtle signs and clues of animal tracks for food and to avoid danger lurking everywhere, from bullet ants to tarantulas and scorpions to getting lost and being able to remember landmarks that would lead us back home or prevent our dug out canoe from hitting underwater boulders and getting stuck or damaged or capsizing.
We looked like fumbling kindergartners compared to the village captains, guides, navigators and walking and talking encyclopedias who kept us under their protective wings during our entire visit.
While it may not be possible, realistic or necessary for us in the Western world to live that in tune with nature, we need to do a bit better than barely opening one eye even when alarms are screeching all around us.
It’s essential for us to hear and receive the guidance that match our dire circumstances with courage and spiritual maturity.
We need to shrink and align ourselves back to our humble size so that we can decide when data and facts match or don’t match our inner wisdom.
Behind the armor and facade
Right now, default self blame and self loathing cause us to hold up a facade and hard protective armor around our heart, vulnerability and 6th sense. We “defend” ourselves from hearing hard truths and don't take more responsibility where we can and must.
We have difficulty trusting and acting on global warming signals, even when we are (and I happen to be right now) surrounded by an inferno of fires (with more dry lightning in the near forecast) caused by the rising heat and drought from greenhouse gases.
It’s like we stopped trusting the sun, currents of the river and mountains for direction because we got ourselves a fancy compass (even if this compass gives us the runaround because of interfering magnets and debris that we never bothered to clear because of our total trust in this compass - representing our separate selves and ego-systems).
Forced to ignore personal and global warming signals
We’ve been forced to ignore our personal warming signals for centuries —i.e. our emotions, our PMS insights, and our immune responses which have provided us a continuous stream of natural consequences and inner protesting that result from living in a modern world built on colonialism, slavery, capitalistic greed and imperialism.
We learned to dismiss these signals in favor of real, perceived and exaggerated threats to our survival, justified overextending and overworking ourselves for security, success and money, and became addicted to quick fixes that remedy imbalances and pain with drugs, distraction and consumerism.
We learned to scapegoat stress, project shame and blame on "others" and alleviate overwhelm and denial of intergenerational racial and social suffering, inequities, earth exploitation, climate injustices and harm by checking out and getting lost in the craziness of it all.
There’s a perpetual lack and scarcity of space, time, commitment and clarity to dig deeper and invest in a shared understanding that resetting ourselves and our priorities is of utmost importance if we want future generations to have a fighting chance in reversing the ripples of our actions.
Apparently, our body’s immune response to Covid-19 is showing similar disorganization, overwhelm and self-sabotage. Our first level of defense, our antibodies that respond as alarm bells with pain and inflammation, don’t step aside when armies of killer T cells come in to finish off the job.
The chaos, pain and pus-producing alarms inside of our lungs and bodies don’t let up and mirror the disarray in our nation.
It’s as if a desperate voice deep inside no longer wants to be appeased and comforted when our collective ship is at risk of sinking.
It’s pleading with us to wake up and not fall back into the complacent, sleepwalking trappings of our daily grind and usual mind . . .
and face the facts that we don’t have psychic space, clean air, and, some of us, basic protected rights to breathe.
We can’t keep running around putting out fires without considering the many preventative steps that can and urgently need to be taken to redirect us to a healthier and more sustainable tomorrow.
It will take tremendous courage to pivot our priorities but we need to pay closer attention to even more personal and global warming signals, preventative measures and solutions, and not hide out in denial, fear or privilege.
Key facts to consider (or share the next few months should you be aware of them):
Carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases are the main drivers of global warming.
The largest source of greenhouse gas emissions from human activities in the United States is from burning fossil fuels for electricity, heat, and transportation (if you don’t have these, consider investing in an electric car, solar panels, and energy-efficient appliances over other purchases for ex).
The United States produced 5.4 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2018, the second largest in the world after China (10.6 GT) and among the worst countries by greenhouse gas emissions per person.
Population US: 330 million Population China: 1.4 billion (4x bigger)
Therefore, our gas emissions per person is technically twice as high in the US vs China, and up there with Canada, Australia and Saudi Arabia.
The fossil fuel industry and this administration in particular have raised doubts about the truth of global warming by rewarding polluters, and attempting to undercut existing pollution standards (full list of 100 regulations in the process of reversal by Trump administration).
Climate denial and other propaganda (dispersed through hypnotic suggestion - short phrases repeated over and over again with an air of authority) confuses the public about the growing consequences of global warming and makes it more difficult to implement the solutions we really need.
Don’t be fooled and gaslit by this disorienting fog and smog.
Climate change is a tip of the iceberg concern because it’s very present right now and your energy and shamanic work with the elements and the earth are much appreciated. But it's not the only harm that's done to many.
Many of my dear friends and relatives in Suriname and in places all over the world have been displaced and severely impacted by American politics and decisions related to climate injustice and social inequities, worldviews and policies that are practiced right here in our very own backyard.
It's time to get our house in order
Will the blaring alarms within our souls, communities, and our country get the serious attention they deserve this crucial election year?
Not get snuffed by our own rogue ego-mind and inner Trump who’re used to a false sense of control and getting their way by overriding our inner nature and wisdom, no matter the consequences?
Let’s not split political hairs but recruit as many supporters as we can by recognizing how much is at stake, how much we owe BIPOC communities, and how much privilege and responsibility we have compared to the rest of the world to set things right and deeply heal.
Let’s focus on what truly matters as if our freedom, our lives and many other lives across the globe depend on it. Because they do.