Awakening With Journeying

Published: Nexus News, Lansing, MI. Nov/Dec. 1999
The Mountain, Lansing, MI. Sept./Oct. 1999

For nearly 9 years I struggled with chronic fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS) also diagnosed as fibromylagia, Epstein-Barr virus and/or myalgic encephalomyelitis. This illness can be characterized by symptoms including chronic sore throat, swollen lymph glands, sleeplessness, extreme and debilitating fatigue, low grade fever and/or below normal body temperature, feeling cold to the core of your insides, headaches, mental confusion, muscle weakness and pain, depression, to name a few. The most debilitating aspect of this illness for me wasthe loss of my life as I had known it. My energy was totally depleted. I was barely surviving from day to day. I used to be so full of energy. I was always the person who had to be in on everything and at every event. I ran marathons. I bicycled centuries (100 miles in one day). I ran intensive training runs and competed in 5K running races, often placing in my age group. I was super mom, wife and employee. Then, this monster torturously took that life away.

As the illness progressively ate away at my life, energy and activities, I became more enlightened about alternative healing and spirituality in an attempt to heal and make sense of my world. Having been drawn to a deeper sense of being all of my life, I felt a powerful attraction to begin shamanic trainings offered by the Foundation for Shamanic Studies. I am not a "workshop" person and at the time making the commitment to attend meant thatthe money might be misspent if the illness did not allow me attend the entire training. The following is an abbreviated description of the miracle that happened for me at the basic training, and continues happening as a result of connecting with Spirit through shamanic journeying. Some of it explainable, most of it incomprehensible.

In the first journey to the lower world I connected with an incredible source of personal power that has been missing since my late teens. I was very still and patient in my journey, something I am notin ordinary reality. I felt at home and connected, again, something I did not feel in ordinary reality at the time. For the first time in many years I was in a place that I belonged. I journeyed into the Earth and felt her protection and nurturance. I sat by a mountain lake quietly, just being. After some time of quietness, my power animal approached me with discourse. He was angry that I had wandered far from my life path and had participated in activities that were self-destructive. He angrily informed me he was forced away by alcohol and dishonorable actions. I was amazed but knew all of this to be truth. I expressed my regrets and my desire to re-connect with him. He asked me to honor him by doing less and being more, to spend time "being" in his environment, to drum daily and to walk the path of connectedness. Then, we just were. We shared energy and essence. He showed me how to BE. Many different kinds of birds called out to be acknowledged.

My power animal informed me the cause for my headaches was thinking too much. He told me carrying so much in one's head was not healthy. Feel more, think less. My heart ached so much so that I actually rubbed the area in ordinary reality. The drumming vibrated my heart and seemed to open my soul. The whole room vibrated with the energy of the drum and the Spirits. My body reverberated with the sounds of hundreds of drums beating in unison. There were many Spirit shamans present, drumming their healing and sharing their power. I was reluctant to return with the callback. I had found my home. What I did not know at the time was that I had also found my power.

The journey to the upper world was equally as profound as the journey to the lower world. I was carried on the back of an Eagle who shape-shifted into Hawk and then Raven, taking me through what appeared to be a layer of water like an ocean. Dolphins surfaced in the water and I came out into a jeweled city. In a park area I was met by my upper world Spirit teacher. A great ancient shaman who accepted me to be his student. Another teacher appeared, a Celtic female essence dressed in robes. I asked if it were possible to have more than one teacher and many more appeared. Spirits from many times and many paths, all at my access if I ask. So I asked about them healing the chronic fatigue immune dysfunction and they explained that I was to heal the illness by walking my destined path. They informed me the illness was my initiation and my awakening, established before coming into this body as a way to keep me on my destined path. They would support and empower me with this healing as I do my part. My healing is to teach and help others with shamanism. My healing is to be a conduit to Spirit, calling out to help others connect and heal.

It seems like the "Mission Impossible" choice. If you choose to accept this mission, great learning and healing will happen. You will also have to face your fears and overcome your limitations. You will have to face the attacks of those who don’t understand. You will have to put yourself out on a limb. The old part of you will die, leaving you fresh and strong, but raw and vulnerable at times. If you fail to accept this mission or discontinue walking this path, illness will be your consequence. I could not have known at the time the healing that was occurring. Spirit gifted me with the way to heal this evil monster that was eating my body and my life. Spirit gifted me the energy to heal and be whole and help others. That evening after the first training I was not fatigued as I thought I might be. I was very energized and went out for an exhilarating 5 mile run. And this has been the case since connecting with my power sources. The fibromylagia pain is gone. The fatigue extinct. The depression lifted. My immune system strong.I feel I have been given the gift of a second life. I feel more energy flow through my body than I have ever felt, even before the illness. It is not a burst of energy but a subtle energy that flows up through my body making me feel alive!

The experience of journeying is personal, deep, and profound. Learning to connect with this power was profoundly healing for me. It has filled the void that had been inside of me nearly all of my life. Journeying on a regular basis keeps me connected to that power source, open to Spirit and life, and hence, healthy physically. Again I am able to run for several hours at a time and bicycle several thousand miles a season. I carry my power connection with me as I do these things. I open to the other dimension and connect. That was something I did not know how to access before learning to journey. Of course there are times that I stumble and waver from the path. When this happens I find it true that the illness will remind me where I need to be. Health returns as I journey and re-connect.

Shamanism is not something one does, it is a way of living and being. The learning and healing continues with every journey I take and with each moment that I open to more than this ordinary existence. Cognitively I find it difficult to comprehend the healing that I receive. In a way, I can understand the energy of Spirit power that opens me to life. Mostly, I just feel the healing in ways that defy words and understanding.