Initiations are sacred journeys that every shamanic practitioner must undertake at some point in their training or calling. They test the limits and inner fears of the practitioner when they face and confront the death of the old self, leaving space to rebirth the new self.
During the initiation, the practitioner will shed away the endless needs of the ego when a further divide of the false personas, created during a life-time, brings to awareness instead, the permanence of their true-self and of course the impermanence of their physicality.
Although initiations are specific and purposeful to every person, what each practitioner shares is the removal of the illusion of self, breaking the chains of limiting behavioural patterns and allowing them to remember that we have originated in a much larger universe.
Intense healing often occurs through the journey; new luminous energy bodies can be instilled, personal memories erased and gifts from Spirit received to help unleash the shaman’s ability to find the re-connection to the web of life.
Though this may sound a little daunting to the un-initiated, it is often said that ‘our helping spirits will not introduce us to something that indeed we are not ready for’. But for me, considering my first experience of an initiation, my helping spirits may have known I could handle it, but a subtle heads up would have been appreciated.
You see for me, the initiation was an accidental event that came in the form of a call from Spirit to walk the path of the shaman through direct experience. I now like to affectionately call it the ‘culpa felix’ – the latin term for the “fortunate fall”.
Although initiations generally take place in the non-ordinary world, I found myself in a complex story building up in ordinary reality, where I saw my life and my physicality falling apart.
Lying there broken and paralyzed, I was disconnected from the waist down. Unbeknownst to me, I had just begun my long initiation in ordinary reality.
I had been the poster boy for egoic living. I had created numerous false personas and masks for how I wanted to be perceived by society. I was constantly acting out and living through the desires of the physical sensory realm, which I had not only bought into, but was attached, hooked and embedded as a way of existence. Now paralysed, lying in hospital, the threads were dissolving and beginning to pull me away. My egos’ false personas fell apart…the disillusion of who I was then was shown to me, and that triggered something.
Though shattering and compressing numerous vertebrae in the lumbar region of my spine had caused the bottom half of me to be incapacitated, it seemed to have had a beneficial effect with my lower chakras shutting down. As a consequence, the negative aspects held in each of these chakras, along with the collective memories and pain bodies, were removed. This destroyed my attachments to each of the personal stories which I had collected my entire life, and held in each correlating energy body.
As a result of this, my energy and consciousness moved upwards to the chakras that governed the spiritual aspect of myself, now totally disconnected from my physicality sitting in the spiritual dimensions and connected to my true-self, and the source of all consciousness.
Perhaps this was a fortunate coincidence; fasting and taking pain killers was keeping me in a lucid state, allowing my mental awareness to loosen its grip on the telling and re-telling of my experiences and stories. I had tapped into the formless and was totally incorporated into the greater universe, the all-knowing source, which is very similar to some stages of an initiation.
The next eight days were a blend of doctors, tests, consciousness and unconsciousness, ordinary and non-ordinary realities, and visits from loved ones who all seem to have the same face. They all tried to smile, assuring me that I would be fine, but I knew that perhaps I would not. Then the results came with the prognosis of ‘You’ll never walk again – You’ll have no bladder control, bowel or sexual function’ – I was in the eye of a hurricane and the world around me was in complete turmoil, even though I seemed to be completely still within.
On the eighth night I was visited by the spirits, who showed my life in a wheelchair and how I was distracted and removed from what my true call was in this life. They challenged me to walk on earth as a shaman, to be of service and to heal others, but I was also warned how serious and daunting this reality could be.
After I accepted their invitation, I began to see an extremely bright light right next to my bed when I opened my eyes. The light grew until it touched my arm, with a searing burning feeling moving in and up my arm and filling my entire body. The heat was so intense I was burning and just as I could not take it any longer, it began to fade and I passed out.
I woke up hours later needing a bathroom; I got up and went towards it. Walking back to my bed it occurred to me – I could walk again, and I wiggled my toes all night in excitement. My rebirthing had begun.
Getting to this point was not as easy as I thought. My unconditional acceptance of the situation was crucial. It had landed me in the center of the present moment, where I was free of any worries of the future and anxieties of the past. There was no good or bad; it just was. I had let go of the outcome and fully accepted my current state.
This is also true in initiations. There is always a point where the practitioner can feel uncomfortable because they are losing something in which they find identity. This is the time for acceptance and letting go of the imbedded control issues, and just trusting the process instead.
In my case, by accepting the situation, I was able to transcend my body and my attachment to it. By spending time in non-ordinary reality as my spiritual self, I had now come to understand and know much of this deathless dimension, filled with our true immortality. This allowed me to find inner peace and real compassion that is all encompassing. Tremendous healing and transformative powers were given. Now I was ready to learn how my true-self could heal me and how my spirit helpers would show me the techniques needed to heal others. The wheels of my real journey just started to turn.
Years later, I found out that my teachers and my true-self had orchestrated this ordinary world initiation with the purpose of aligning me back with my original path.
The gift I was given was to start over again, in line with my soul’s purpose. I had to let go of 30-odd years of cultural conditioning and the control tactics of the ego. I got a re-boot so to speak, so I could walk my true path; the one I signed up before incarnation, now in line with my true-self steering the ship.
Shamanism is about making authentic contact with the roots of our soul and aligning one’s path with our soul’s purpose.