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Spirits on Individual Journeys

February, 2019

Indigenous people don’t learn by looking outside themselves; instead, they learn how to remember the knowledge they already possess.”

Malidoma Somé (Dagara elder and shaman)

I’ve
been practicing and studying earth-based spiritual systems since
2000. In the process of trying to heal from deep depression and
addiction, I’ve worked with many different teachers from many of
the world’s traditions. In my darkest moments, I needed older,
wiser, and mostly healed guides who could help me learn to listen to
my inner wise one (A.K.A. Dreamer, High Self). When I was struggling
the most on my life journey, I leaned heavily on their knowledge to
get through those times and I am so grateful to this day for each and
every one of them. Their ability to be patient, resourceful, and
benevolent is the reason I am still here, healthy and free.

Although
my spiritual teachers varied in the knowledge they shared with me and
their methods, they’ve all been consistent in insisting on one
principle: the real guide on any individual’s journey is their
Dreamer. Whenever I had questions that needed answering, they always
pointed me to my inner wisdom first. Sometimes, they would add to my
original statement with information from their own lived experiences.
However, more often, they would simply say: “See: You know already
so go and do what your Dreamer told you to do.” It wasn’t unusual
for them to send me out on ceremony to find the answers I was looking
for when my inner guidance wasn’t feeling so clear.

One
of my first tasks when I started studying shamanism was to identify
the sound of my Dreamer’s voice. This may sound like a simple task
to some readers, and perhaps it is for some people. I had so many
different and competing voices in my head that this seemed to be an
insurmountable mission. When I sat in silence, I heard voices of
teachers, family members, mentors, friends and others throughout my
life who thought they knew better than I did what I needed. By the
time I was in my twenties, I had convinced myself that they were
right. So much so, in fact, that I was lost; my inner compass felt
broken. The most vicious voice was that of my own ego. In Gregg
Henriques’ article “The Elements of Ego Functioning,” he
describes the ego in this way:

Freud
conceived of the ego as the psychological apparatus that regulated
sexual and aggressive impulses and navigated the tension between
those impulses and the demands and values of society. A more modern
conception that is certainly related to Freud’s is to consider the
ego as the self-consciousness system. The self-consciousness system
is the narrating portion of human consciousness that reflects on
one’s thoughts, feelings and actions and inhibits or legitimizes
them to one’s self and to others. In this sense, ego is very
similar to what is meant by the term identity, and ego functioning
refers to the components of the self-consciousness system that relate
directly to
mental
health.”

I
realized that my ego had succeeded in convincing me that any decision
I made that went against the confines of the identity it had created
for me was a threat to my very life. On my blog, I wrote an entry
entitled “Going Mental” in 2012. It describes the practice I
began of having conversations with my ego like I would with one of my
younger students to discover what it needed and how I can make it
feel safe while still doing the bidding of my Dreamer. I saw that my
ego was just trying to survive and keep “us” alive and this
helped me to find compassion for it.

On
the other hand, my Dreamer’s voice is always calm, benevolent, wise
and sometimes firm but never cruel. She talks to me the way a loving
parent would talk to a child. When I am making choices that are
causing me to stray from my Sacred Dream (my life’s purpose), she
gently pokes me. If I am not listening because I am preoccupied with
mundane life tasks or if I heard her but choose to ignore her
counsel, the messages come in a more insistent and often chaotic way
until I correct my course. Thankfully, I usually don’t have to wait
until my health declines, my relationships descend into a three-ring
circus or I am in financial distress to learn these lessons any more.
My daily spiritual practices keep me tuned in to my Dreamer’s voice
so I can make mostly wise choices day by day.

I often remind worried parents about this fact in my work with families: They are not in control of their children’s journeys. This is tricky because parents are also responsible for the health and well-being of their children until they are eighteen in our society. As parents and guardians, it is easy to think we know better. And I often note that despite having parents who do lots right, some children still go down unfathomable paths.  I have seen this a lot in my twenty-year career as a teacher. What I have faith in is that our souls* are ancient and wise; many of us have lived many lifetimes and Great Spirit is patient in letting us come back again and again to this Earth plane to refine our characters. I don’t know if this resonates for you but this feels true to me: Elders have told me that ultimately on a spiritual level, each of us has a life purpose that only our Dreamers know.

When
we validate a child’s interests, wonderings, and learning
inclinations, we are following the direction of their Dreamer. I
think one place where a lot of us adults get stuck is when we expect
that children will have the same inclinations that we do or we rescue
them from making mistakes. Mistakes are part of the learning process.
Our Dreamers are also leading us in very unique ways according to our
own life purposes, which may be really different than those of our
children. Our children might need to make certain mistakes in order
to learn what they came here to learn in this lifetime. While it’s
hard to watch people we love make choices that cause suffering for
them, it can also be a powerful life lesson in learning how to honour
another’s path while staying firmly on our own as individuals. If
we keep leaning into our healing in every lifetime, eventually we
might not even need to reincarnate. Until then, I am glad my Dreamer
is with me every step of the way.

*Please
note that when I speak of the “soul” here, I mean the original
essence of who we are that is made of light and can never be harmed.
This aspect of us is always with Spirit, even as we reincarnate. Our
Dreamers represent the essence of our soul; they travel the spirit
world and guide us in our incarnations. I like to think of my soul as
being the part of me that stays anchored to the Divine always.

Work Cited:

Engracio, Jennifer. “Going Mental” December 2012

Henriques, Gregg. “The Elements of Ego Functioning.” Psychology Today. June 2013.

Above art: “Ancestor Spirits” by Willow Arlenea

***

About
the Author:

Jennifer
Engrácio

has been a student of shamanism since 2005. Jennifer is a certified
teacher who has worked with children in many different education
settings since 2001. She is a certified shamanic coach, reiki master,
and lomilomi practitioner; in addition, she runs Spiral Dance
Shamanics. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, she now lives in
Calgary, Canada with her life partner.

Engrácio
participated in self-publishing three books that are now available:

The
Magic Circle: Shamanic Ceremonies for the Child and the Child Within”

Women’s
Power Stories: Honouring the Feminine Principle of Life”

Dreaming
of Cupcakes: A Food Addict’s Shamanic Journey into Healing

For
more information go to: www.spiraldanceshamanics.com

Dreaming of Cupcakes: A Food Addict’S Shamanic Journey into Healing on Amazon

Dreaming of Cupcakes: A Food Addict’S Shamanic Journey into Healing on Amazon