Bear Medicine: Using Winter’s Silence to Go Within

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Reflecting on our discussion on totems, and since winter is settling her blanket upon us, let’s take a closer look at Bear medicine. It is said that Bear medicine resides in the West—the area where our dreams and goals exist. Winter is also in the West, so it is appropriate that we consider this medicine now and utilize the lessons.

Many of us are currently caught up in the rush-rush-rush of Christmas shopping and planning for holiday events. We forget that there is a forced “stillness” that winter demands, as we blast through this season like credit card-waving lunatics. When we get to the end of it, or maybe even just close to the end, we find ourselves burned out and exhausted. At worst, we wonder where the time has gone, having seemed to fly by without notice. A year from now, it is unlikely most of us will even remember what we did, said, or bought.

Now is the time to STOP. Winter demands it. Look around you. Nothing grows now (especially if you’re in an area that receives snow!), the summer birds have gone and taken their joyful songs with them, and most of the critters we are used to seeing (except for squirrels) are either fast asleep or hunkering down to stay warm. All of these natural things are clues to the state of being we are meant to adopt. However, as much as I’d like to toss that line to my employer and legitimize my desire to “hibernate” all winter, I don’t necessarily mean we are meant to stop living our lives and go to sleep. What I mean is that we are meant to slow down, take a deep breath, and stop the rushing busyness of life.

bark-lodge-in-winter

I have heard it said by Native peoples that winter is the best time for meditation because everything is quiet. This is the time when many First Peoples go into their lodges and do various dream or meditation or spirit communication ceremonies. (Note: I am aware they don’t necessarily refer to the lodges in this manner; I am simplifying it.) The reason being is that it is easier to think, to meditate, to hear the spirits of their ancestors at this time than any other. Quite frankly, the forest is much too “alive” in the spring and summer months and the animals are too inquisitive as to what the Native people are up to, thus making far too much noise, so to speak.

Bear medicine is one of introspection (according to Sams and Carson). Bear teaches us to go into the cave, the womb of the earth as it were, and be silent. Here, she reflects on the year’s lessons and quite possibly how this year’s lessons have contributed to all the lessons in her life. In order to adopt Bear medicine, we need to do the same. We must find that quiet space within and reflect upon all of the lessons we have learned this year. This isn’t a one-and-done exercise, mind you. Winter holds a long, long (long if you live in anywhere it snows!) conference with the earth. Again, that’s a clue to how long our reflection time should or could take. Utilize the stillness of winter to your advantage.

So how do we find our inner “Bear”? First, try calling on Bear medicine to come to you to aide you in your endeavor. Sit in silence, whether in your house, in your car, or—if you’re daring (and dressed for it)—in the woods somewhere. Call to Bear with your mind, your spirit, and ask for assistance, guidance, and wisdom. Be respectful! Feel the strength of Bear moving through you. Imagine your hands turning into bear paws, your body being covered and protected by a thick warm coat of fur. Close your eyes to the world around you, shut out any sounds as best you can, ignoring them. (I love to go to the woods for this exercise simply because of the closeness I feel and the lack of constant human distraction. We’re very noisy creatures indeed. Especially in my household!)

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Once you feel relaxed, your mind has adopted the image of your body transforming into a bear, sit in the silence and just be. Keep your eyes closed and let any images you see or feel float by freely without giving them much attention. Ask Bear to help you reflect on this year, or a time in which you feel especially drawn to reflect upon. As those thoughts, images, or feelings arise within you, let yourself just examine them as though you were on the outside of the event. How did that situation make you feel? Why? How did you react? Could you have done better or did you do it the right way? What is the lesson learned there? Why do you feel that you had to go through that situation in the first place? And so on.

If that situation is painful or especially difficult, try to see it through Bear’s eyes. There is always a lesson, as I’ve said in the past. We don’t always know it. Sometimes the lesson is just to make us stronger, like a sword being forged in a fire. You might need this strength for another moment in your life, or to help someone else in theirs. Other times, the lessons are such that we had to come to a new way of thinking or being, and this was the only way to get it through our thick-skulls, so to speak.

By looking at the instance (or instances) through Bear’s eyes, you have shielded yourself in protection that allows you to be safe as you examine your life lesson(s). It also allows you to try and be objective. You aren’t you looking at these moments, for example. You’re Bear; you’re brave, strong, quiet, and wise. You’re not shirking the responsibility of having to live with or through the moment, you’re allowing yourself a place of safety so that you can learn from what has happened.

Bear5We often say of our good friends that they know us better than we know ourselves. This is because they have the benefit of seeing things from the outside. We see it only from the internal. We see an injustice done to us, not what we might have done to contribute to the outcome. We see hardships put upon us or moving through our lives, but fail to see that we repeat the same mistakes again and again that completely foretell what the results will be. By adopting Bear medicine, we are giving ourselves permission to look at ourselves from the outside. We are allowing ourselves to be objective.

This seems contrary to the idea of “going within,” I know. But think of it like this: sometimes, in order to go within ourselves, we must see ourselves in a different light. It means we must allow ourselves to examine our actions and our decisions from the outside as our friends or loved ones do. If we constantly remain inside our own shell, we rarely take a real look at the lessons or the situations we have found ourselves in. We rarely get past the “well this happened to me,” or “they did this and now I feel…” and “this happened and now my life is such because of so-and-so.” That’s Ego doing its job, protecting us from hurt as best it can by deflecting blame and/or responsibility. Ego is meant to keep us alive; introspection is meant to help us grow (spiritually). By adopting Bear medicine, we not only wrap ourselves in a serious cloak of protection, we allow ourselves to see through a different set of eyes.

Use this time to go within. Use the stillness of winter to slow down, even despite the rush of the Christmas season. You’ll find you will enjoy the holidays more if you actually participate in the art of being rather than doing. In twenty years, your kids/family/friends/etc. will long remember your actions, not the gifts you gave them. Give yourself permission to go inside and examine what life has taught you this year. Become Bear and move with confidence, knowing you’re protected, you’re strong, and you’re meant to learn.

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TOTEM SPIRITS: Animals as Guides

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In Native American cultures, and probably indigenous cultures worldwide, animals play a large role in instructing human beings. They teach us how to live justly and within our means. They teach us how to honor Turtle Island (Mother Earth) and ourselves. Animals teach us how to be wary and cautious (Fox), how to manage our resources whether food, money, or other things (Squirrel and Mouse). They instruct how to listen to our inner voice and go within to learn the great lessons there (Bear). But animals also teach us how to laugh at ourselves and to not take life so seriously (Coyote).

Totem animals are those beings that come to you either as a lifetime guide or a temporary one. For example, my spiritual path began when I was a new Marine in California. I had a dream in which a black wolf came to me. I dreamed that I was in a hut in the desert (just as I really was in my waking life) and that the wolf came to the door. I sat up in my cot and looked at the wolf, who was watching me. Then I blinked and when I opened my eyes, I saw through the wolf’s eyes and I walked away. I shape-shifted—in my dream—into the black wolf and have never been apart from it since. Now, when I see the wolf in my dreams, it is always walking with me or is me. I never, ever follow the wolf. In a sense, we are one and the same being.

Other animals come into your life to help you through certain situations, challenges, or life lessons. These may be brief instances (like daily lessons), or may last longer. For example, I know that Bear walks with me now, and has since my daughter was born four years ago. (I guess it’s true what they say about that “Mama Bear” syndrome.) Bear feels especially close to me and urges me frequently to go within and listen to the silence of the cave. She teaches me to be patient, careful, strong, wise, spiritual, and swift.

Mama-and-baby-bear

Many of you who are parents might very well be walking with Bear at this phase in your lives. Think of the comparison: Bear cubs live with their mothers for many years, relying upon her to show them all they need to know about being a bear to be successful when they finally go out on their own. In many ways this is the same for human mothers and fathers. It is our job (as parents) to teach our little ones how to live right, to honor themselves and each other. We must teach them the difference between right and wrong in everything they do because their survival depends upon it. Bear medicine is strong medicine to walk in, but we must not abuse that power- raging about and being generally vicious. Remember, bears only really attack if they feel they, or their cubs, are threatened.

Each animal has a teaching associated with it.  Of course, these teachings may vary depending upon the Native culture. For example, in many Native American cultures, Coyote is the trickster. (No big surprise there.) But Native peoples also refer to the coyote as “wise little brother.” Most people don’t know that it is Coyote who is alleged to place the stars in the sky and started the world. Wolf, as many people already suspect, is a teacher in many cultures. Her life lessons include family, spirituality, oneness, unity, teamwork, and strength. There is a time for song and a time for silence, and she teaches both. However, many animals have dual roles. Raven, for example, is both a trickster and the keeper of magic.

Determining your totem animal is pretty simple. For some of us, they come to us in dramatic ways (such as in dreams). Others feel a very strong pull or kinship to a particular animal. I’ve always and forever loved horses, so I know that Horse is one of my totems. (Yes, you can have more than one. Typically, there are two main guides; one may be more “dominant” so to speak than the other. They usually walk with you your whole life and teach you the lessons of their ways.) I have a friend who has a great affection for frogs, so Frog is his totem. My aunt, on the other hand, not only loves owls, but the owls come to her constantly—even during the day! That’s the other clue: Your main totem animals (main life guides) aren’t simply ones you like, they also come to you. I don’t live in an area where wolves are indigenous anymore, so the only way Wolf can come to me is through a dream. But horses abound on farms and such, and I’ve always had a unique way with them. Other animals, such as most birds, apparently despise me (though I’ve never hurt one).

If you aren’t certain of your lifelong totem animal, ask it to reveal itself to you (just as you would your spirit guide). These animals want to work with you, but they’re not human, so they don’t follow human laws. You can insult them too, and then they may go away. So remember to be respectful when addressing it.

River OtterAgain, your life guide is one you have always felt especially close to or one that always seems to find a way into your life. Maybe you have always admired the mouse and even kept some as pets. Or maybe you are an otter person and have always loved the playful nature of these creatures.

Do not get wrapped up in the ego side of things. What I mean to say is: bigger and stronger, faster, meaner, “cooler” animals aren’t any more “special” than the small, “meek,” less ostentatious ones. Snake medicine, for example, is very powerful medicine and few people walk with it. These tend to be shamans and/or medicine people. Wolf medicine, as it turns out, is much more common.

Carrying very powerful medicine, such as Snake, also has its levels of sacrifice and/or discomfort. Sometimes “wishing” for a powerful animal, isn’t really what people want or need. Do you want to be a leader when, in fact, you aren’t very outgoing or extroverted? Or maybe you’re just the opposite. For example, Cougar is a powerful cat but it is also solitary most of its life. Maybe you’d like to have Cougar medicine, but you’re not much of an introvert and the message doesn’t really resonate with you. Or maybe you want to have Wolf as your guide because it seems “cool,” but you aren’t really much for instructing, teaching, or family. Maybe the ways of Wolf don’t resonate with you either, but Whale—the keeper of knowledge—does. These animals are ones that work with you because you share a kinship—a certain way of being.  Your life totem comes to you because they sense that you share this kinship; don’t push it away simply because Ego wants something “better.” You wouldn’t do that to your human spirit guide, definitely don’t do it to your animal totem. As I said, they don’t operate by human laws and can be gone for good.

owl medicine

Since one animal isn’t better than another, what about good and bad? We’ve all heard that old wives tale about owls being bad omens, or omens of impending doom, but are there bad animals out there? First, we must try to understand that, in Native teachings, bad doesn’t mean “evil” as we tend to think of it. “Bad” and “good” aren’t necessarily black and white in Native teachings, so there truly are no “bad” totems. (This is a tough concept to understand, I know.) Many raptors in Native cultures are considered to be a “bad omen.” Hawk, the Messenger, typically carries prayers to Great Spirit. But Hawk also acts as a warning, frequently letting people know of danger up ahead (such as traffic accidents, etc.) and to be cautious in proceeding. Pay close attention to the direction of Hawk’s flight, for example. It may indicate which side of the road trouble is on. At any rate, it never hurts to proceed with caution if Hawk flies over your vehicle, or crosses your path. Owl gets its reputation because Native teachings state that it has the ability to see into both worlds—the living and the dead. Owl medicine is one of clairvoyance (though not all clairvoyants, myself included, carry Owl medicine). Thus, Owl has long since been thought to be able to foretell death and hearing or seeing an owl was considered a bad omen.

Remember, animal messages come to us usually daily; we just need to take notice of them. These are the animals that pass quickest through our lives.  Field MouseA couple of times in my life I have been hiking through a field when Mouse has run up to me and literally rubbed against, or stood on, my foot. Mouse’s teaching is that of scrutiny, and I had to spend some time reflecting on that. I’ve also—rarely—had (bald) Eagle come to me when I have been in the woods reflecting and asking deeply spiritual questions. This has only been when I have been called—or compelled—to go to the woods with such urgency that I couldn’t ignore it. Eagle is the symbol of Great Spirit, and thus it was a powerful message to me.

For animals moving in and through your present situation (whether daily or for a finite period of time) close your eyes and sense which creature you feel interacting most with you. Elk totemMaybe you keep thinking of Elk. For whatever reason, it just pops into your thoughts. Use those clues and look into what the Native teachings have to say about Elk medicine. Jamie Sams and David Carson put together a wonderful collection of animal totem information in their book Medicine Cards (yes it comes with cards). I love this as a reference and refer to it frequently when I see or sense an animal moving through my day or life and need a better understanding of the lessons it is trying to teach. Their collection isn’t the be-all-end-all, but it is an excellent start. Look, too, at the natural way of the animal. How do they behave? What do they do in their lives? Do they hibernate or live through the winter hunting, fishing, etc.? What is their natural habitat like and how do they interact with it? Search what you can on the natural ways of the animal for even greater understandings. After all, this is how the Natives built their understandings of the animal teachers.

Some of you may be wondering why I capitalize the names of the animals when I refer to them. The answer is quite simple: Native cultures believe that there are different kinds of “people”: the four-leggeds, two-leggeds, sky people (birds, etc), and swimming people (fish, aquatic life). Think of that Disney movie Pocahontas when she sings “Colors of the Wind”. There is a line where she says, “You think the only people who are people, are the people who look and think like you…” This is the idea she is referencing. (By the way, admittedly, I love that song.)

The point is there are many “people” on this planet from which we learn. In order to truly embrace ourselves as part of the Great Spiral, we need to understand that we are all connected. We know much when we realize that we don’t know much. We have a world full of teachers, and not just the human kind. Remember, we survived as a species for millions of years not by sitting in classrooms or checking emails, but by being a part of the world around us. We watched, learned, and frequently mimicked our animal teachers—look at paintings of Native Americans as they hunted bison. Many of them donned wolf skins not simply to disguise themselves, but to draw on Wolf’s spirit and infuse themselves with the power, stamina, cooperation, and success of Wolf as hunters.

So welcome into your world your animal teachers, both life guides and those transient ones that pass through. Embrace your inner Ant, Badger, Moose, Elk, Wolf, Bear, Whale, Heron, Otter, and Fox. Learn from your teachers and pass the message on. Our goal should be to live honorably and in harmony with each other and the world around us. By listening to the messages our animals (living and spiritual) send, we can get there. Most importantly: Welcome to the world of totems!

Gallery Reading: My First Experience

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This made me laugh! Maybe this will be my costume for next Halloween :)

This made me laugh! Maybe this will be my costume for next Halloween 🙂

Well, two things: One, I know I’m a week off and I apologize. I got completely wrapped up in the Halloween weekend and neglected my blog duties. Sorry about that! Second, I also know I should be blogging on Zozo, Zuzu, and the scary side of the Ouija, but also just realized there is a movie out there right now handling all things frightening and Ouija. So, maybe for a later date?

I wanted to discuss an experience I had this Halloween season- one that was entirely new to my partner, Paul Smith (@Klrvynt), and I: gallery reading. In the past, I have participated in séances and more-or-less channeled deceased loved ones for very personal readings. These were always an interesting experience for me as I never really knew what to expect, naturally, or who would come through. Plus, it would take an immense amount of my energy so that when I was finished, I was completely wiped out.

But this was different, somewhat. First, I’ve learned to pray and ground myself. I’ve also learned that establishing a divine connection and letting the energy flow through me from God versus trying to manifest it myself is much more sustainable, since I don’t wipe myself out, and it should be coming from a divine source anyway. It isn’t unlike the way Reiki works, in my opinion. Second, I learned a valuable lesson: the energy of the sitter is equally as important as the energy from a medium or from the deceased. If the participants remain guarded, uneasy, etc. it is very difficult to gather any clear information.

I think it is often easily overlooked how important the sitter is energetically to a situation. The more they refuse to relax or let the energy flow, the less information can get through. It’s like asking to make a phone call, but then choosing the worst line available to do so. Or waiting until you’re in that weird “dead zone” (pardon the pun) before trying to reach out. You know all you’re going to receive is a static mess of broken words and misunderstood messages in “real life.” What would make it different for the beyond? In a group setting, this is doubly difficult as suddenly the apprehension begins to flow amongst the other participants in the same way that joy or the “mob mentality” must. If enough of them are locked up emotionally or guarded, then it sort of “infects” the others (if you will allow me to use that word here). Until they relax and calm down, it acts as a definite barrier and slows or halts the progression of things. It blocks communication, even though they’ve come for just that.

So when the first group sat down that night, I noticed right away that they were all energetically, collectively “off.” Their guards were up, they were skeptical- which is fine, so long as you use the true sense of the term[1]. They had an air of “prove it” about them, and while a little unsettling, it wasn’t unexpected. After all, we’re talking about the paranormal and mediumistic readings. Everyone wants proof, and a good medium should provide you with such if it is possible to do so.

My partner and I work very well together, but no one gets anything 100% correct 100% of the time and we are the first to admit that. We explained that to the group, and also let them know that it is very possible that a couple of things can happen: One, a spirit who wishes to speak to a person in the room may not want to speak through either Paul or I. (They’re people too. Maybe their energy doesn’t jive with mine, or his, or whatever. It’s natural.) Two: it may be that we can’t lock in to anyone at all. Maybe the energy of the sitters, our energy, and the deceased just aren’t flowing in such a way that is conducive to a good reading. Or three: we lock in and give you intimate details as best we can and you come away with (hopefully) a sense of peace as well as a sense of wonder about the afterlife and the divine’s hand in all of it. (That’s my opinion only on that last point.)

For me, both sessions were a success. I did get messages for the guests, the second group was easier (for me) as their energy was much higher and they were definitely more open than the first group. I was able to lock on immediately to various individuals and give them exact details including nicknames. But both sessions were a learning curve for me.

Like I said, I think I underestimated how much the energy of the participants can so influence the situation, myself, and what transpires. Not because I don’t think of it or value their energetic influence, but I suppose I assumed if the spirit can’t/won’t communicate with me maybe it is just ME or maybe the spirit wishes to talk to someone else, like my partner Paul. I neglected to consider that maybe the energy of the sitter plays such an important role as to be able to either block or allow communication to or for them!

My guides worked very hard to bring messages, but I think too that they had to let me experience that sense of difference. My own fear and apprehension started off as a block in the very beginning and I had to release that. As soon as I let go, I felt the first nudge of a spirit who wanted to communicate.

I can’t imagine working in a large audience where you may have hundreds of people. Someone like Theresa Caputo and James Van Prague must work so hard to not only receive messages quickly, but try to interpret them accurately as best as they can. Paul and I only did small sessions of 12 or so, and it was a bit of a challenge at moments to try and figure out which spirit was speaking and for whom.

Think of it like tuning in your radio as you drive through an unfamiliar area. Maybe you’re travelling cross-country. At any rate, especially with AM stations, you sometimes get bleed over- a situation in which two radio stations are near enough on the bandwidth to interfere energetically with the other. To you, it may sound like the radio stations are talking at the same time. Perhaps you tune your dial one way, assuming you are going to get the song you just heard in the bleed over, only to find out that it was the opposite direction. That is sort of what it is like for Paul and I. We are constantly trying to tune the dial to the correct frequency in order to clearly match our energy to the spirit’s and pass the message on.

Some of you might be wondering how I could have overlooked the importance these other facets of reading were and the answer is simple, really. I’d never done a gallery type setting before and I had never been exposed to the sensation the way I was that night. As I said, I’ve done séances, but in that situation we are all “tied together” energetically by way of our hands and I simply had not experienced this before. This was new to me, but useful. Like I said, it is easy to forget there are three participants in any reading (at least): the medium, the sitter, and the spirit.

We all have a lot to learn in this life and I am immensely grateful for the lessons that come my way. This was the light bulb moment I think I needed as I believe Spirit is working hard to point my partner and I into new, uncharted (for us) territory. I wanted to share this experience with you all as perhaps there are those of you out there who have more knowledge/experience than I with such situations. Or perhaps you are learning this too. We are all here to learn and share together, after all!

[1] A skeptic is someone who neither believes nor disbeliefs in something until sufficient evidence is provided by which an opinion can be formulated one way or another. In the case of the paranormal, many people claim to be skeptical, but when presented with astounding evidence of the hereafter (whether from a psychic/medium, or some equipment-captured evidence), they refuse to believe. They may want more and more and more, or just flat out deny it is possible. This is not skepticism in the true (scientific) sense of the word. This is denying.

Ouija: It’s Only a Game…Isn’t It?

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There is probably not a person out there who either hasn’t themselves played with a talking board or at least known someone who has at some point in their lives. In fact, it almost seems like a rite of passage through our teenage years. I did it, I admit. But think about that very statement: “I admit.” It’s as though, by admitting we’ve played with this device, we’re shamefully confessing to doing something terribly wrong. I didn’t commit any crimes. I didn’t spend my evening shoplifting or doing drugs. I played with an Ouija board. It’s just a game…..right?

Talking boards have been with us for a very long time. They go back before the American Civil War, though they looked very different and were “operated” a little differently too. The Spiritualist movement brought them to the forefront of American culture and—if you can believe this—there was a time when nearly every household had one. Families sat around and “played” with them just as they’d sit down for a game of Monopoly or Scrabble today. Can you imagine walking in to a friend’s house tonight for dinner and there, on the sofa table, sits the board? Dear God, most of us would be out of there so fast our own heads would spin.  I mean…better to get the heck out of there than be possessed by Pazuzu, after all.

Norman Rockwell famously depicted a couple playing with a Ouija on the cover of the Evening Post in 1920.

Norman Rockwell famously depicted a couple playing with a Ouija on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post in 1920.

But where did that fracture happen in our culture? As late as the 1940s and 50s people had these boards out in the open and dabbled with spirit communication. Yet somewhere along the way we became convinced that to even lay a finger on the wretched device meant you were truly invoking the worst of Hell and inviting them up to your table for drinks. Is that really the case though?

Ouija (properly pronounced “wee-juh,” though now more commonly pronounced “wee-gee”) is a brand name for a particular type of talking board. In the 1890s businessman, toy-maker, and designer William Fuld and his brothers developed the board we are most familiar with. But it was his alleged psychic/medium sister who named it. She asked the board what it would like to be called and the rest is history. Contrary to popular belief it does not mean “Yes, Yes” in French and German. (Sorry folks. Besides, that doesn’t really make any sense anyway, if you think about it.) Instead, it means “Good luck.” (Ironically, this board and its development split the Fuld family in two and resulting in a nearly century-long family feud.) Though the term Ouija technically refers only to this board, we use it interchangeably to refer to all spirit talking boards.

So how did we go from a society that embraced the board as a mere parlor game to damning it as the gateway to all evil? According to foremost Ouija historian and researcher, Robert Murch, the Fuld family had asked the Roman Catholic Church how it felt about such a device and received its blessing upon the promise that the Fuld family would tithe a hefty sum from the board sales. When the funds ran out, so did the Church’s tolerance. (I’m not finger-pointing here, as I have no first-hand knowledge of this, but Murch has spent nearly 20 years researching all things Ouija. He’s the expert even the Fuld family decedents go to for insight on their history.) Now sprinkle a heavy dash of pop culture and Hollywood influence and—voila!—instant damnation.

But is the board truly evil?

The board is just a board and, like Karma, neither inherently good nor inherently bad. Experts suggest that the board is merely a reflection of what we bring to it. For example, according to psychologists, the board is manipulated by the players—possibly subconsciously—providing results that reflect the users’ intent. If you approach the board from a place of fear, they postulate, you will receive a fearful response. Those of us in the paranormal/spiritual world don’t usually discount this, but we also don’t rule out that spirit communication is possible too. (As a psychic and a medium, I assure you it is very possible. But don’t take my word for it—there are plenty of well-known psychic/mediums out there who make a lot more impact than I do and they are some very fascinating individuals.)

If you are a paranormal investigator, I’m willing to bet that one of the key pieces of equipment in your arsenal (regardless of how elaborate or modest) is a voice recording device of some kind. Having investigated for many years myself, I know one of the first questions that is ultimately asked at any location is quite simply: “Is there any one here who would like to speak with us?”

Now think about that for just a second. For those of us who have played with a talking board ourselves, or witnessed others playing with it, isn’t that very same (or at least similar) question asked? The point isn’t the semantics of the question; it is the demonstration that we first open the proverbial door to the ether without ever putting a safeguard in place. Consider it like opening your front door to a stranger without ever checking to see who it is. Maybe you open it up wide for anyone to walk through, or maybe you keep the screen door locked between you first until you can discern the reason for their visit. In this day and age, surely the latter choice is wiser. One should always check to see who is knocking, right? So why wouldn’t you put a safeguard in place before you start asking questions?

Some teams pray, ask for protection, or seal themselves in white light before going into a haunted location (not a bad idea at all!). Others just storm the gates as though nothing on the other side can affect them. (For more on the dangers of not protecting oneself, please refer back to the archives for topics on both protection and attachment removal.) If you plan to operate an EVP recorder, plan first to protect yourself, then next to ask specifically for the spirit you are seeking. Or at the very least—if no spirit is known, or no name is known—ask only that spirits of a very high vibration come through. Remember, the low vibration entities are not the ones you want to commune with, no matter the parlor tricks they may dazzle you with.

The same goes for the Ouija board (branded or not). If you want to use it, just make sure you are asking for protection first. Remember, too, the board is sort of like a phone. If you are receiving messages that are scary, negative, threatening, etc., simply state that you are not going to tolerate this and the communication is now done. Let them know they must go away and they are not welcome to come back. Ask for the protection of St. Michael the Archangel and your guides, as having some reinforcements in your camp can’t hurt.

Captain Howdy's waiting...

Captain Howdy’s waiting…

Don’t enter a session with the intent to be scared. Fear is a low vibrational energy and I frequently use sharks as an analogy to attracting low vibrational energies. If you spend a lot of time in an ocean, you may or may not ever see a shark. But if you cut your arm and let it bleed into the water, one is bound to show up. The same is true with negative entities. If you don’t protect yourself and don’t take the spirit side seriously, one is bound to find you someday. (Note: this does not mean you’ll turn into a host for Pazuzu and your head will spin in circles. It just means any low vibrational energy can possibly attach itself to you and use your energetic field as a “meal.”)

Ouija boards have a long and colorful history. Some have even been blamed for crimes such as murder. (No joke, “the Ouija made me do it” has been an actual defense on more than one occasion.) Yet the board itself holds no power. It is merely another divination tool, a spiritual communicator, in the same sense EVP recorders and pendulums are. Be careful if you’re planning on using or having one at your Halloween party this year. Make sure you and your guests are fully aware that invoking low vibrational energies is not acceptable. (They’re easier to call up than to remove, so if you’re cool with a possible long-term tenant, ignore this warning.)

Next week: Ouija: Zozo, Zuzu, and Other Frightening Encounters

Also- follow me on Twitter @spiritspeaksb and, if you’re in the Rockford, IL area, check out www.HauntedRockford.com for upcoming paranormal events, tours, and investigations!

References:

Robert Murch, Ouija historian, researcher, and expert.  http://robertmurch.com. See also: http://www.williamfuld.com/biography.html

Rosemary Ellen Guiley “Ouija Gone Wild” (paperback and Kindle versions available on Amazon.)

http://www.museumoftalkingboards.com/index.html

Spirit Guides: Working as a Team

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Working with your guides is an exercise in trust and a little bit of a game of charades. Some guides utilize symbols, signs, or images that might be deeply personal to you, or require exploration and interpretation. Others speak audibly, though the voice typically resounds in your head and usually sounds like your own. In short, our guides use a variety of methods to try and communicate with us.

For so many years, and maybe some of you can relate to this, I would routinely wake up in the middle of the night—typically for several nights in a row—fully alert. I’d frequently feel totally exuberant as though I was extremely happy to be up at that unfathomable hour and fully energized, ready to start my day. Then, for the next two or three hours, I’d struggle to fall back asleep until finally—an hour or so before the alarm needed to go off—I’d crash. It took me a long time to figure out what was going on, and without the help from a hugely beneficial podcast (PsychicTeachers on iTunes), I’d have been lost.

As it turns out, our guides don’t remember their earthly lives once revolved around linear time. (Remember, unlike Angels, our guides were once human.) So to them, 2 a.m. is a perfectly suitable time to “download” information into our brains that we will need at some point in our lives. After all, our subconscious is wide open; we’re relaxed and essentially “listening.” Why not, right? Because it disrupts our sleep, which we desperately need, that’s why not. I learned that we can ask our guides to respect our sleep cycles and allow us to get the much needed rest we deserve in order to effectively live the lives they’re trying to guide us through. We can politely remind them that sleep is very important, and it isn’t the best time (for us) to have all kinds of information downloaded, so to speak. Once I learned that, and asked them to stop the post-midnight interruptions, they did.

But what about that information? What is it? What do we do with it? Furthermore, how do we even know what it is? The truth is I really have no answers for that. Perhaps it is something that our subconscious recognizes later through experiences like déjà vu. I bring it up solely as an example of not only how our guides try and communicate with us, but also how we can request them to modify their communications.

For those of us who “hear” our guides, the voice tends to be very, very quiet. In my case, my guide also speaks very quickly. Frequently she answers my questions before I can even get them fully articulated, whether they’re asked internally (telepathically for lack of a better description) or externally (out loud). There have been plenty of times I’ve asked her to wait until I can form the question completely because it makes me feel “better” when I do. To be honest, it is simply because I am used to having to ask the whole question before receiving a response except by the people closest to me. I think that’s fair to say about us all, since we are humans having a perfectly human experience. But our guides have a much broader picture, so I suspect that they can answer us much more quickly because they know exactly where we are going with the question anyhow. At any rate, it doesn’t feel “normal” so sometimes I just like to ask the old-fashioned way and let her respond after.

I think it is fair to say that most of us struggle with trusting the information from our guides not because we perceive it to be incorrect, but because we are so ingrained with ego and social acceptance that we have a hard time letting go of the “this can’t be real” voice in our heads. (That, by the way is Ego, not your guide.) I know I personally struggle with that one, even though I’ve been doing this a long time. The more we meditate and the more we work with our guides, the easier it becomes. Some of the best advice I have ever found came from Echo Bodine as she discussed using intuition in our daily lives. We need to speak to our egos too. We need to tell our ego it is okay to back off and relax. We’re not abandoning our ego; we’re just turning it “off” for a while to listen to our other important tool within us: our intuition.

There is no set list of rules or guidelines on how to work with your guides. You simply need to start and go from there. Truly, it is an exercise in trust as you need to ask the questions and trust you will receive correct answers. Ask your guides to be specific, if possible. You need them to be clear, but remember too that they will try to be as concise as possible in the shortest amount of words/time/images/etc.

For example, while I was on a bus tour last fall, I had the spirit of someone’s mother come to me. She was there to pass on a message to a guest on a tour and while the bus was stopped outside a particular haunted location I heard very distinctly “Ask her about the roses.” Mind you, I had no idea who “her” was, and the simple phrase meant nothing at all to me. Who was I supposed to ask? What was I supposed to say? So, internally, I said to the voice “I’m not going to say that,” and my guide chirped up and simply said: “Yes you are.” Sure enough, the moment presented itself after the tour had completed and my partner Paul Smith (@klrvynt) and I were taking questions. I found myself passing on the message (along with some others) despite the fact I had resisted the initial contact simply because it made little sense. It was an exercise in trust.

Guides also give wrong information. This is not because they don’t know the correct answer, but because sometimes we need to be wrong to learn a lesson. Perhaps it is a trust exercise, or perhaps it is so that we learn to interpret messages differently. Especially when it comes to passing messages on from loved ones, no one is 100% correct all of the time. Sometimes we need to be wrong in order to learn what a new symbol might mean. It is a true statement that we learn more from our mistakes than from our correct answers. You need to allow the occasional instance of being wrong to be OK. This will also teach you to trust yourself as well.

As I said, there are no set guidelines in place for how you and your guide will work. Maybe you have a guide like mine that is fabulously chatty and you really “click.” Some of you will have guides that are far more quiet and reposed. The only way you will know is if you attempt to work with them, and then work together to build a relationship that furthers your spiritual growth.

I really hope you’ve enjoyed our discussion about spirit guides, and I would love to hear from you about how you’re coming along in meeting/working with yours. Feel free to comment here as you see fit. You never know who else could benefit from your insights!

Also, I can always be reached via email and feel free to follow me on Twitter (@spiritspeaksb) or my partner Paul Smith (@klrvynt). If you’re in the Rockford area and looking for a haunting good time, check out www.HauntedRockford.com or follow Kathi on Twitter (@HauntedRockford).

We’re only two weeks away from Halloween, so next week we’re going to discuss one of my favorite topics. Ouija: It’s Only a Game…..Isn’t It? 🙂

Spirit Guides: Challenging Your Guides and Confirming Who They Are

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So after taking a week off to consider how to write this next installment, hopefully you have been practicing diligently on meditation in order to strengthen your internal “quiet.” For most of us, we need a measure of internal quiet so we can “hear” our guides and, like I said, meditation is an excellent way to achieve that. Not only because it reduces the distraction in our life, but because meditating familiarizes us with what our own internal “quiet” sounds like.

For years I had been talking to and asking life help from a spirit guide I had met while becoming attuned to Reiki. Because the instruction during the meditation had been to meet our guides, I didn’t understand that this guide was a healing helper and not my Life Guide- the one I had chosen to assist me in my life’s journey long before I was born. It wasn’t until years later that I found out the woman I had accidently “bumped into” during a meditation session was my Life Guide. Needless to say, my Healing Guide didn’t have much to say about my life’s questions. I found him distant and quiet and, to be honest, incredibly frustrating. I was considering awarding him the title of “Worst Guide Ever” when it dawned on me that we might have several guides and perhaps the woman I’d met was the one who’d have more insight. So I asked her. Literally.

Challenging Your Guides

On my drive to work that day, I challenged her. I stated that if she was indeed my main guide—my Life Guide—that I needed a sign for evidence. I gave her a specific sign that I wanted, that it could be something I physically see with my eyes (a picture, a real animal—in this case I asked for an owl as my sign), or something someone said to me without my prompting them. She had until Friday of that week (it was already Wednesday, and I remember this because I got my last sign on Thanksgiving day). I even gave her a time limit of 5 o’clock on Friday, just to make sure we had limitations set up.

I got to work without a single owl swooping over my car (I work a first shift job, so no surprise there) and heard nothing that could even be considered a “hoot” of any kind. Like any other day, I marched up the stairs to my cube, popped in my podcast and set to work. Lo and behold, if the very first thing they started to discuss wasn’t owls. I froze. Could it be that fast? Could this really be the sign I had asked for? I told Mother (the name by which she had introduced herself all those years ago, though their names are irrelevant—more on that later) that I wanted to see/hear something about an owl. I didn’t give her limitations such as a specific species of owl (Snowy, Great Horned, Screech, Barn, etc.). The discussion being had at the beginning of the podcast was about owls- something I had no way of knowing in advance. It could be random chance, but I didn’t think so. I don’t believe in coincidence.

Naturally I was excited and skeptical, so I did the very first thing that comes to mind when receiving what might be the confirmation you asked for while at work. I got up and ran to the bathroom to damn near hyperventilate and challenge her again. (Mother and I have subsequently had many bathroom conferences. Weirdly, it seems to be the quietest place I can find.) Locking myself in a stall like an excited teenager, and flapping my hands wildly in enthusiasm (I have no insight as to why we women do this. It appears to be a natural response and helps us focus J), I whispered “OK-OK-OK…If that was you…Thank you. But can you please give me another sign? I need to be sure. This time I’m asking for something about a horse. Same deal- I can see it/hear something about it, it doesn’t matter. You have until Friday at 5.” Then, exhaling, I hurried back to my desk.

I worked through the first podcast then played the next one in sequence after it had finished about an hour later. While I don’t believe in coincidences, I also won’t make the puzzle pieces fit if they don’t. But I had been specific in my request- it could be an image, a real animal, or a discussion about a horse- or something horse related. As I listened to the second podcast, there it was, subtle but there. The ladies were discussing holy stones and how people have long since used them to protect themselves, their homes, and their horse stables. Maybe a little too hard to believe? Read on: the podcast was in no way related to anything horses, nor did they discuss anything about horses before or afterward during the podcast. This was just a singular example of the uses of holy stones (naturally formed rocks that have holes all the way through them and believed to be very protective for the person who finds them). Once again, I froze briefly before taking flight back to the bathroom. (My co-workers must’ve thought I was an absolute lunatic.)

Now I wanted to make darn sure of whom I was talking with, so I challenged Mother one last time. This time I was very specific in what type of horse I wanted to see: a paint(ed) horse. The rules didn’t change, but the type of horse did. Excitedly, I ran back to my desk and spent the whole day not hearing a single thing about a painted horse or paint horses in general. Nothing. Disappointed, I headed home to start preparing for Thanksgiving the following day.

My partner Paul Smith (@klrvynt) and his wife, along with some other friends, were coming for Thanksgiving dinner that day and Paul and Lisa showed up early. Lisa, being a librarian in Fox Lake, brought a huge box of children’s books for my daughter; books that were going to otherwise be disposed of. As I opened the box, the very first book on the top stopped me in my tracks. I hadn’t shared with anyone my recent exploration, challenges, and confirmations with my guide yet, but there on the top of the stack was a book about a horse. And not just any horse, mind you, but a paint horse. And not just any paint horse, but the most revered type of paint horse in Native American culture—the Medicine Hat complete with war shield.

Medicine Hat Paint Horse

Medicine Hat Paint Horse

A little background: A Medicine Hat is a nearly pure white horse with limited color up around its ears, resembling a “hat.” They might also have color at the base of their tail, and elsewhere on their bodies, but this is very minimal. The horse is nearly 90% white otherwise. Though many Native tribes revered the paint horse, the Medicine Hat was considered especially sacred and thus protected in battle by Great Spirit. Those horses possessing a war shield—a patch of color across the chest—were considered even more sacred, and basically invincible. Today, true Medicine Hat horses are still not very common as most paint horse breeders prefer less white than what is found on these special creatures.

Medicine Hat with War Shield

Medicine Hat with war shield

There are many reasons this sign was personal and special to me, besides the fact I’d asked for a paint horse sign. For one, I’ve been inexplicably connected to Native American spirituality since the late 1990s, when I was essentially called to this life path by one of my totem animals. (More on totem animals later.) When I received this special sign, I already knew the relationship of Native belief and spirituality in regards to the Medicine Hat and seeing this cemented for me the truth about my guide. She was who she said she was, and she made this last sign very personal so that I knew when I saw it.

When challenging your guides, keep in mind that they don’t work in linear time so giving them a timeframe (specific day and hour) helps them (and you) tremendously. Without this guideline, you may get your sign eight years from now or in the middle of the night when you least remember it. Be respectful too. You respected and valued them enough to ask their assistance before you incarnated, so remember that. These are people who you looked up to as a teacher or mentor. They’re also appointed by God. You’re not worshipping these guides; you’re asking their insight like you would a very wise friend or professor. So treat them accordingly. Choose signs that you will recognize, but don’t be so specific as to limit their ability. For example, if you live in New Mexico and ask to see a Snowy owl fly over your car on your way to work one morning, chances are you’re going to be sorely disappointed. They’re not miracle workers, they’re guides. So maybe ask for a general sign and give them a set time to respond. Then you can narrow it down, as I did.

Two things to remember, though: One, if you don’t get your sign, chances are you’re not asking the right guide. Hence why I never got any feedback from my Healing Guide (Sitting Bear); it isn’t his job to tell me anything. He is here to assist me when I do Reiki and offer guidance as to how to be a better lightworker. Ask for your Life Guide to respond. Also, make sure your sign isn’t too limiting (Snowy Owl by noon on Friday, and it is already 11:55. Plus you live in N.M.). Second, don’t keep challenging your guide. They’re not going to keep playing the game. Three was more than enough, and any time I asked Mother to give me a sign confirming who she was because I was feeling insecure and just wanted the thrill of seeing this happen again, she didn’t “perform.” They’re not circus acts. Challenge them three times—if you must—and narrow down the specifics, like I did. Once you have your sign(s), thank them and trust that they are who they say they are.

Lastly, there is a caveat here is to make sure you are addressing your Life Guide if they are of the Light and the Highest Divine purpose to help your soul manage its way closer to God. Always make sure to seal your communications with God’s light and the Divine protection. Call on St. Michael to assist you and protect you. Again, your guide(s) will never boss you, belittle you, threaten you, encourage you to do something destructive or harmful to yourself or anyone else, cuss or swear at you, or make you feel threatened in any way. (They may startle you if you happen to see them or sense them unexpectedly, but if that is the case they will cease you let them know it spooked you. Lesser spirits/lights will not cease because they don’t care if you are upset. They actually enjoy it.) Your spirit guides are of the Divine and therefore will act accordingly. If you feel, hear, sense, or see anything like what I’ve just mentioned, that is not your guide and you need to send them away, ceasing to communicate with them immediately.

Spirit Guides: Meditation, Meditation, Meditation

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   Continuing our discussion of spirit guides, one of the most common questions I think people have regarding them is how to meet them. In a day and age where everything is instant, we’ve grown spoiled with the idea that we can have everything virtually “right now.” However, our guides generally don’t work that way; if you want to meet them, you have to do a little leg work (most of the time).

Now I’m not speaking in absolutes here; there’s no “all or nothing” reasoning when it comes to the spiritual world. For some lucky people, their guides just show up and introduce themselves. For the rest of us, we need to work at it, and by “work” I mean meditation. (Of course.)

Most of us know the benefits of meditation: reduced stress, better health, more restful sleep, ability to focus and solve problems before they become overwhelming, and so forth. Even though we know this, we hesitate to do it. (Not gonna lie here, I’m as guilty as the next person.) So why? Why do we hesitate to sit down, close ourselves off to the world around us and just get in-touch with our Higher Self? Because we’ve been programmed to stay tuned-in lest we miss some sort of vital nonsense that—and let’s be totally honest here—we could probably have lived without knowing in the first place.

Our society drives and supports the notion that if you aren’t completely absorbed in some sort of electronic device or App, you’re missing out. The irony is, while we sit nose-to-screen typing, texting, blogging, updating statuses, and doing our best to convince the world in 145 characters or less that we’re the most awesome thing since Chuck Friggin’ Norris, we are missing out. We’re missing out on the live event called Life. (Surprise!) (Besides, no one believes you’re that awesome anyway, otherwise you’d be called Chuck Norris instead of whatever people call you.)

So if you are sincere in meeting your spirit guides, you need to get sincere about meditation. The reason being: we need to get our minds clear and learn to focus ourselves so that we can essentially clear a path for communication. Think of it like doing a spring/fall cleaning: you want to get out all the junk and cobwebs so that you have more room to expand (or feel like you can expand).

Now meditation doesn’t need to be a long, drawn out process. You also don’t need to worry about making sure your mind is completely devoid of thoughts/distractions. As far as I know, the only people who are successful in such endeavors are Tibetan monks because they have the ability to sit and meditate for hours/days/etc. Essentially, if all you think of is having a mind that is completely clear of thoughts/distractions during meditation, then you’re setting yourself up for frustration and possible failure. Work on quieting the mind, not silencing it.

For example, sit yourself in a comfortable position (no need for the Lotus here, unless that’s comfortable for you, then by all means, show off, go for it, J). I recommend finding a comfy chair that allows you to sit up and place your feet flat on the ground. If propping yourself on a couch in the cross-legged positions suits you better, have at it. However, if you plan to lie down in bed, you might want to plan to fall asleep too, as that tends to happen. Some people, though, highly recommend meditating right before sleep and right after waking but before starting your day. For me, every single time I’ve attempted either of these things, I’ve been out cold in minutes. No Higher Self contacted there, I can promise you that.

The point is there is no one perfect way to prepare just as there is no one perfect way to enter into meditation. Some people, like myself, like special music. I personally love the sound of Native American flutes and drums and that helps me enter into a much deeper meditation if it is playing softly in the background. Others like utter silence. And some may just like soft noise, like the sound of water running, and so on. Try a couple of different things and see what suits you. You may think one way is going to work out amazingly well only to find out it isn’t so.

Next, don’t enter into meditation with preconceived ideas of how it should go, and don’t get caught up in successes and failures. if you’re attempting to meditate, it’s a success. Whether or not you managed to quiet your mind is another matter. It will come with practice, so keep practicing. For me, visualization works wonders. Because I know I can’t shut my mind up completely, I try to limit the “noise” of ego (the worrying about bills/chores/responsibilities, the chastising for not doing it right, etc. etc.) by literally “talking” to myself in my head.

I first begin by counting my breath to a certain number- usually four or seven, depending on how I’m inspired that day. I focus on deep breathing as I count, imagining I am inhaling pure white air or light and exhaling all my troubles/worries/etc. The practice of breath work helps to calm your energy and your mind. In the beginning, this might be all the farther you get, breathing over and over and counting it out. Like I said, silencing your mind to distractions is nearly impossible, so when those thoughts show up just let them flow past. Our egos are hugely troublesome, but they serve a purpose too. They’re rooted very firmly in the rational world, which is why they constantly badger us about “you can do this” and “what if” and “what about…”. For a long time I sought to remove my ego completely, but now I see it is a piece of me- just like psychic awareness, mediumistic abilities, my ability to write/paint/draw, my sense of humor, and so on. It is one facet of my existence designed to help me survive. So now I recognize its input and ask my Higher Self to step in and assist. Go ahead and reassure your ego- let it know you’re not dismissing it, but need some “me” time.

As you start to meditate, if visualization works for you, walk yourself through a certain path. For myself, I enter the woods on a footpath and wander through purposefully until I get to a meadow. Sometimes I sit in the meadow, and sometimes I meander my way to a massive crystal cave where I seek to raise my vibration by doing more breath work. Maybe that doesn’t work for you, or is too woo-woo. Instead of the forest, visualize yourself on a secluded beach or in a quiet park. Maybe you’re in an abandoned church, or a special room at the library. The point is, find what works for you. Go to where you are drawn and keep going back there. Always take the same path so that your body flows into its relaxed state easily. We are creatures of habit so if we’re always trying to invent new places to travel as we meditate, we’ll focus all our time in building that space.

I’m not saying don’t try different areas, but the one that feels right is the one you should go with. Take cues too from your waking life- do you even like the forest? If not, then maybe wandering about there in meditation won’t be relaxing at all for you. Maybe you’re terrified of open water. If that’s the case, the ocean is probably not where you want to imagine being. Or what if you’re just not a visual person? There are plenty of guided meditations out there that you can listen to, and honestly even for those of us who are visual, they are incredibly beneficial. (Plus you can usually find them for free on iTunes! If purchasing a meditation c.d. or track, be warned. They aren’t all created equal. I bought a track once where I’m certain that the woman was reading this in her living room and someone else was there. I swear she started to giggle half way through as if even she wasn’t buying it. I’ve never listened to it again. Moral of the lesson: Read the reviews, not just the description!!!)

Practicing meditation is the best way I have found to meet your guides, but remember that you need to be intentional. They’re always with you, but you need to reach their vibration to hear/see them. Some of you will never see them, some of you will never hear them, but you can all learn to sense them. The more you meditate the more in-tune with your self you become. (And yes I meant to separate that word.) You will sense changes in your body, the environment, and so forth before the rest of the world catches up. It’s no secret that I knew I was pregnant with my daughter only two or three weeks after conception. I just knew my body and the way it felt after spending so many hours meditating that I sensed very strongly it was different. (When I got the blood work done the doctor’s office was floored at how newly pregnant I was. They wanted to know how I knew and even said “You must be psychic.”)

Next time we will discuss actually meeting your guides, challenging them (to confirm they’re who they say they are), and working with them. If you have had experiences with your guides, please place a comment here or let me know! I’m always interested in hearing about how other people have met their spirit guides or how they’ve been introduced. Like I said, for some people their guides just show up. Maybe you are that person!

Also, if you have any questions, please post a comment or write me. Just like in school- chances are pretty high people were wondering the same thing. I may not have all the answers (though my ego assures me I do! Ha!) but I can hopefully point you into a direction that will help.