We have the privilege of being alive in a time of paradigm shift. The world my own parents knew and took for granted has tilted on its axis in the four decades since I was a child. In many ways this is a wonderful thing: courtesy of the internet and social media we now all have access to a vast reservoir of information and inspiration. My own children laugh when I explain to them that in my childhood I needed to cycle to the local library if I needed information about any subject. For them it is all just one finger click away. They cannot comprehend a time where TV programs were limited to certain hours of the day and parents asked their teenagers not to the one-and-only phone in the hallway!
However, all those wonders do have a shadow side (meaning less desirable aspects) and one such shadow manifestation is a sense of brutal overwhelm. Everything that is happening in our world now finds its way into the social media newsfeed as well as onto our various screens (TV, I-pad, computer etc.) In essence this means that we are never free from the information stream (unless we take active measures to cut ourselves of and stem the flow). Wars, natural disasters, famine, forest fires, oil spills, crimes and terrorist attacks (the list goes on) – they have become “daily ingredients in our information diet”.
Fairness dictates that I also state here that the world news and is edited and heavily selected. There are many disasters happening all over the world that NEVER make it onto our screens and that is hardly fair, obviously. Media and broadcasting companies actually choose and select items they feel will get an audience. What we see is just a selection and a selection they put their own spin on by the way they present things, the images they show, the words they use. There are many issues with this process and some people are actively campaigning to raise the collective awareness of these aspects. However, this falls outside the scope of this particular article. The information-feed is relentless, global and overwhelming, full stop!
Spiritually speaking, once something enters our consciousness, we have the responsibility of dealing with it, on some level or in some way. (This is why I stopped watching TV about 20 years ago and I only rarely read newspapers – I prefer reading summaries and articles in quality publications once a week).
I run a number of groups on Facebook for students and people who have read my book or follow my work. In one such group the following question was asked recently:
We all carry the warrior archetype within us but how can we healthfully meaningfully and spiritually deal with rage???
This is an important question in times of both upheaval and global shifts in consciousness. I told the person who asked this that I would respond by writing an article on the subject instead.
Let’s start by doing what I usually do and check out the origin of the word “rage”:
c. 1300, “madness, insanity; fit of frenzy; anger, wrath; fierceness in battle; violence of storm, fire, etc.,” from Old French rage, raige “spirit, passion, rage, fury, madness” (11c.), from Medieval Latin rabia, from Latin rabies “madness, rage, fury,” related to rabere “be mad, rave” (compare rabies, which originally had this sense), from PIE *rebh- “violent, impetuous” (source also of Old English rabbian “to rage”). Similarly, Welsh (cynddaredd) and Breton (kounnar) words for “rage, fury” originally meant “hydrophobia” and are compounds based on the word for “dog” (Welsh ci, plural cwn; Breton ki). In 15c.-16c. it also could mean “rabies.” The rage “fashion, vogue” dates from 1785.
mid-13c., “to play, romp,” from rage (n.). Meanings “be furious; speak passionately; go mad” first recorded c. 1300. Of things from 1530s. Related: Raged; raging.
What soon becomes clear is that there is a close link between the words fury, passion, battle and fierceness: to be furious, to speak passionately, to go mad.
So the first thing we need to address is the notion that being a spiritual person somehow means that we do not admit to rage or other negative emotions (not an uncommon perception). Being spiritual does not mean we are going to be exempt from the trials and tribulations of the human condition. It does not mean either that we will never lose our temper or always immediately see some elevated reason why something horrible or traumatic might be occurring.
What being spiritual does mean is that we need to reflect very seriously on how we ourselves handle anger or other difficult feelings – and how we respond. (And choosing not to respond is also a response!!)
By now most of us know that just trying to suppress it and pretend it doesn’t exist is very unhealthy and a lifetime of that can lead to serious illness (too much disowned negativity pooling accumulating somewhere in the body). I am not saying that all serious illness is caused by this (there can be many medical, psychological and medical causes for illness). Based on years of doing shamanic healing work, I am just saying that it can be one cause of serious illness.
Most of us are also familiar with the “dumping it on someone else” strategy: a person who misses out on a hoped-for promotion gets home and kicks the family dog or shouts at their children…. That is clearly not going to solve anything either. The opposite is true: the amount of pain and anger expands and affects others.
The person who asked me this question gave the example of an African woman shaman explaining how she uses coconuts representing the heads of people (e.g. politicians she is infuriated with) to get rage out of her system, by kicking them or throwing bottles at them. Her question then was: is that a good idea for all of us, something we can maybe introduce in family life to help our children manage anger?
My answer was that undoubtedly this shaman knew exactly what she was doing (and I didn’t hear the interview myself so it is impossible for me to comment on exactly what was or was not happening there) but NO, I don’t think this is a good general method of ‘rage release’ for all of us.
Shamanism teaches that we can do powerful healing work for someone who is not in the same location by using an object as a stand-in. I was taught to (for example) use a stick as a substitute for a person in shamanic healing work though I always preferred drawing a picture of the person instead. Either way, healing and blessings will arrive as surely as if the person had been in the room with us. Now the same thing is true if we are going to be sending the opposite thing: anger, hate, negative thought forms etc. This is going to affect the person as much as pouring bile and venom over them in person.
For that reason using coconuts to represent the heads of real people is very dubious by my book – because it will affect the people concerned and spiritually speaking that also means that this act carries karma (or spiritual consequences). There is a rule in witchcraft: expect whatever you direct at others to return to you threefold! Please sit with that before you start sending people rage and curses or what not!
Yet this is the operating principle when practitioners of dark magic make dolls representing people and stick pins in them. I am choosing not to use the word voodoo here because voodoo is actually a proper religion in Haiti and I consider it disrespectful to use the word as short hand for “practicing dark magic”. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haitian_Vodou).
I hope that I am making sense so far! So what can we do when we feel overcome by rage and we know that we cannot direct or forward it at other people or sentient beings?
Well, the big issue here is the difference between expressing rage and directing rage. I have had clients punch a pillow, beat a drum or scream loudly in safe space. Rage needs to be released, not bottled up. Working with a group of children I have had them collectively howl at the Moon or run around my garden growling like wild animals. If an urban child, living in a flat with no access to a garden, really needs to smash things you could (for instance) take them to your local “bottle bank” (recycling centre) and have them throw in a large number of bottles, all the while naming whatever they are smashing. Every throw will be followed by a loud and satisfactory crash. Depending on the personality of the child concerned you could also invite them to draw the anger, or sing it, dance it to loud music etc.
Depending on the person you are, the person you are working with (if you see clients) or the personalities of your children (this question was asked in the context of family life) you can find many ways of releasing rage: more physical and aggressive ones such as pummelling a cushion or milder ones, such as writing down exactly how you feel and then burning those slips of paper ceremonially with someone witnessing the act. A friend of mine sometimes locks herself in her car to have a good screaming fit away from her family.
A related method is writing “no send letters”. Meaning you write person (living or dead) a letter explaining very honestly how you feel and then you send this letter to spirit (NOT the person concerned!!!) by burning it (or burying it in the earth, or asking a body of water to dissolve it). Obviously be mindful that you don’t release anything toxic in nature when doing this – choose your materials with great care!
What I hope this article makes clear is that “whatever goes around comes around”. Meaning that if we human beings keep passing on pain, rage and trauma to others – eventually it will roll around again (on a collective level), because anything that is out-of-balance will continue to seek healing until the issue is transmuted or healed for once and for all. For that reason we do not only help ourselves and others, but we are also in service to the world and mankind when we learn to manage our negative emotions: expressing them but not sending them.
A useful book in this context is: How To Heal Toxic Thoughts by Sandra Ingerman.
If we take a giant step back and dare to see the larger spiritual perspective, we can already see the trauma and grief of the future (that will affect human beings not yet born at this time) being created/taking shape just by observing events in our world today. In both a large sense (think of wars or school shootings) and more domestic sense: physical or sexual abuse being passed on down many generations.
Hawaiian H’oponopono has proved to be extremely useful:
Many people now use Morrnah’s Prayer or just four simple healing sentences. Morrnah Simeona was an Hawaiian shaman. She would use the prayer below to help individuals overcome illness by asking the Divine for forgiveness.
Divine creator, father, mother, son as one…If I, my family, relatives and ancestors have offended you, your family, relatives and ancestors in thoughts, words, deeds and actions from the beginning of our creation to the present, we ask your forgiveness…Let this cleanse, purify, release, cut all the negative memories, blocks, energies and vibrations, and transmute these unwanted energies into pure light….And it is done.
Four simple healing sentences:
Thank you (for coming to attention – meaning I can now formulate a response or decide to do a small healing ceremony….)
I am sorry
Please forgive me
I love you
These words can be spoken or chanted as a mantra (as we go about our daily business). They can be written on slips of paper and put in front of photographs (with a candle burning). The possibilities are endless!
Do we want to be part of the great cycle: of perpetuating pain, rage and trauma? Or do we choose to be part of the Clean-Up-Team, the growing group of people using ancient alchemical tools for changing human consciousness to eliminate what we can from the collective reservoir of human grief?
That is the larger question! The choice is ours!
To see how I personally have been guided to work with challenging events and material, please watch this recent art video:
THE POISON MOTHER
Imelda Almqvist, Sweden, 26 October 2017
About the Author:
Imelda Almqvist is an international teacher of shamanism and sacred art. Her book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon Books in 2016. She is a presenter on the Shamanism Global Summit 2017 as well as on Year of Ceremony with Sounds True. She currently divides her time between the UK, Sweden and the US.
For Amazon information, click image below.
https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=imelda+almqvist (Youtube channel: interviews, presentations and art videos)