It’s been a wonderful journey with shamanic practitioner, Phil (goes by Phantom Phil). Through his guest posts for this blog, he’s shared some amazing insights into the world of Shamanism. And today, he shares his final reflection as a look into how Shamanism is nestled into Hollywood movies. I hope you enjoy him reflecting on some of the finest works, like the Batman Triology and Star Wars series. Here’s what he shares with us today.
“Why Do We Fall Sir? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up.”
– Alfred, played by Michael Caine in Batman Begins (2005)
This quote is so simple and so vast. It says so little and tells us so much and is the central theme of not only The Dark Knight trilogy, but maybe even life itself. More on this later as I will fill you in on the last of my Shamanic Studies (they are finally done).
The courses and themes I outline will not be placed in chronological order because unlike trilogies where the third act of the story ties everything together this conclusion came during my second last course. The final course was still important but didn’t nearly pack as much gravity. With that being said, that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t extremely cool. In fact, I think this will be a good place to start, so lay your head on that fluffy pillow and enter the dreamtime.
Do You Remember Me?…On The Street Of Dreams?
-Street of Dreams by Rainbow, from the album Bent Out Of Shape (1983)
Dreams are utterly fascinating and the interpretation of them deserves their own series of blogs. I am willing to bet that some of you were unaware that dreams and their symbols can also be interpreted through Shamanic Journeying.
Don’t worry because until the middle of December 2021 I wasn’t aware of this either. I came to this class with a journal that was full of recent dreams and some from the distant past that never really left me.
Like in my previous two entries I can only recite some of my own journeys. When I’m journeying on behalf of or working with others I cannot fully comment because that would be breaking the sacred circle of this practice. In this course we journeyed into one another’s selected dreams to gain new insights and information.
It was quite an amazing experience and if some of the details didn’t resonate at least Spirit gave us symbols to decode. So if you’re having a recurring dream (be it a positive or a negative one) and you can’t decipher its code or shake it out of your subconscious, look up an experienced Shamanic practitioner.
You may be pleasantly surprised with the results if they are able to journey into the dreamtime on your behalf. What I can share here in this space are some of the different styles of dreams and how they pertain to my journey.
The first one I will focus on is called Big Dreams.
These are dreams that I would describe as being ‘realer than real’ or can be classified as psychic premonitions. They are so vivid in detail and feeling that you may feel like you are in your waking life when experiencing them. I have had several of these since receiving my first ever reiki healing in 2013.
Some of them have been recurring and anything recurring is delivering you a message. At this session I was able to journey and gain insight into one of my recurring ‘Big Dreams’ and it’s everything that I thought I was.
It’s a series of clues leading to what was spelled out to me as ‘purpose’ and ‘soulmate’. While this dream appears to be an upcoming promise of love and light it is important to acknowledge them when they turn dark.
Welcome to my nightmare…I think you’re gonna like it.
Welcome To My Nightmare by Alice Cooper, album of the same name (1975)
I don’t think a single soul on this planet has been able to live a life free of what we know as nightmares. Nightmares are unpleasant and can escalate to night terrors for him and can turn into a pattern of no escape. But these unpleasant experiences (like the ones in waking life) can sometimes be our greatest teachers.
Here is an example of a nightmare I had leading up to the course that’s meaning got revealed to me from Shamanic Journeying.
I was in a dimly lit bathroom at the sink and I was brushing my teeth. For some odd reason I cut adjusting and manipulating the size of the bristles and when I finally decided to start I had to stop because my gums were excessively bleeding and were quite sore.
It’s really easy to go onto a search engine and find out the direct interpretation for this but there are so many varying meanings that I didn’t really connect with any of them. So I decided to do a journeying exercise on this and I received an auditory message that roughly said ‘It’s not the bristles, it’s you.’.
Not the most uplifting message you want to hear from Spirit but after much deliberation I discerned that this message was about self sabotage. Despite all the healing I have been able to work through in recent years this is one theme I am still wrestling with and working through.
I am grateful for the message and I share this example because nightmares can be useful warnings or lessons for us to grow. I could go deep with this modality of Shamanic healing as it is quite layered but I have so much more to get to here that I have to conclude.
However there is much reading material on this subject and even though I have yet to enjoy his work the author Robert Moss has been highly recommended to me. One of his best known books is Dreaming The Soul Back Home: Shamanic Healing For Dreaming And Becoming Whole.
“No One’s Ever Really Gone”
Luke Skywalker – The Last Jedi (2017)
Like the quote from Alfred that started this whole thing off, this one is full of beauty and powerful simplicity. This is from the much maligned Episode VII of the Skywalker Saga in Star Wars.
In my own opinion, this is one of the cooler scenes of the movie when Luke’s (not yet known) Force Ghost reunites with sister Leia. I brought this to the table to introduce the concept of Psychopomp and how it is used by Shamanic Practitioners.
In fact I will make a bold statement here as I am wondering if George Lucas brought in the concept of Force Ghosts to the Star Wars Universe after doing some research on psychopomp.
I know it’s a stretch but you just never know and after studying and performing in this modality I really ponder if that in fact was the case.
For those who may not be familiar, a Force Ghost is a luminous apparition of a character who has passed on or become ‘one with the Force’.
The goal posts have constantly moved on what these beings can or can’t do and whether they exist in the modern film for merely ‘fan-service’ but it comes across as a powerful tool to show us in the real world that grief can be temporary and that the spirit of the departed can exist beyond the physical.
Which brings me to the term of psychopomp and how it relates to core Shamanism. Now fasten your cosmic seatbelts because this section gets a little wild. Psychopomp work is generally speaking the caring work of guiding others through transformative experiences from life into death.
To further bring in the element of core Shamanism and journeying, the right practitioner can track down souls in the spirit realm that have not fully crossed over and can assist them in doing so only if that soul grants them permission.
My friends the physical world is only but a single realm in this vast Universe. While this work is to be done with the utmost care and respect it can provide immense healing in the right situations.
I want to clarify a statement from an earlier post in this series that Shamanic healing is not a substitute for medical advice or therapeutic counselling.
If someone may have a terminal illness or experiencing crippling grief from losing a loved one or animal, then seek out the professionals. However, if grief is still consuming you a great deal and someone ready to pass on needs comfort in order to peacefully cross over after professional help then this may be a worthwhile option to look into.
Related: Spiritual Resources on Death
Psychopomp can prepare people in the final stages of life so they can understand the geography and cosmology of where souls go. It helps transition the soul / life force from life into death in a loving and compassionate way. In fact I would like to share an interesting experience I had while journeying in this class.
We had to journey to what’s known as The Destiny Of Human Souls in order to know where the souls that needed to fully cross over would end up.
Now, by no means is what I’m about to say imply that I personally know what happens when we die. I don’t have a clue and in my humble estimation neither does anyone else. But what I felt and experienced in this journey showed me that this may be along the lines of the ‘right idea’.
At least that’s how it feels to me personally. The gist of it being that every soul crosses over to the same realm. There is no duality (ie: Heaven & Hell) and the souls that did wrong in their life or didn’t fully learn their karmic lessons would be reincarnated on Earth while the ones that lived to their higher purpose and learned their lessons would stay.
A couple additional thoughts I would like to share here is that in the spring of 2019 when I was new to Shamanic Journeying I connected with and conversed alongside two long-time deceased relatives of mine. They each gave me a message and faded into the ether and after I came back I was overcome with emotion. I just knew it wasn’t a figment of my imagination.
Fast forward to this course and The Dreamtime, and I can now call on deceased loved ones with ease. I’ve even connected with one that I never knew during my waking life. Although I don’t have experience with this, the same can be done with our deceased animal friends too.
If grief is controlling your life and professional help has not brought closure, looking into a trusted Shamanic practitioner with psychopomp experience may help the grieving process along.
One other fascinating aspect of this modality is that it can allegedly clear haunted spaces and help those disembodied spirits cross over. On my podcast Unexplained Inc. I interviewed a veteran paranormal investigator about it and she had never heard of this being used in that field. Somehow I don’t think the Shamanic and paranormal investigative field have worked together in a way that I can think of.
But if their expertise could team up with Shamanic psychopomp knowledge? Who knows what they could accomplish together. While the Star Wars franchise may have dabbled in the teachings of psychopomp they also used methods of Soul Retrieval in their characters.
“No one cared who I was until I put on the mask.”
“You think darkness is your ally? You merely adopted the dark, I was born in it, molded by it, I didn’t see the light until I was already a man and by then it was nothing to me but BLINDING!!”
Both quotes are from the character, Bane played by Tom Hardy in The Dark Knight Rises (2012).
And these two quotes from the hulking and brooding super-villain known as Bane are the perfect way to take us to our conclusion into my journey of core Shamanic Studies known as Soul Retrieval.
This modality I feel is the most important one as a whole because it can arguably apply the most healing if used properly. I didn’t realize it at the time but this is what I went through on the journey while visiting my first Shamanic practitioner in 2019. Before I dive deep into this theme being used brilliantly in The Dark Knight Rises I want to give a brief explanation as to what exactly this is.
There is no Soul Retrieval without Soul Loss.
Soul loss is just about any form of severe trauma that may include forms of abuse, prolonged grief, separation / abandonment and most other difficult situations. A lot of this can happen in childhood (parallel to inner child healing in a way) and even at various stages of adulthood.
Think of a perfectly shaped shining and sparkling crystal. Blunt force trauma smashed into the crystal and not only does it crack but shards of it ‘splinter’ away from the rock and all of a sudden that crystal loses its sparkle and shine.
It experiences ‘loss’ from its truly beautiful and glittery essence. It can only get that essence if the lost shards are ‘retrieved’ and put back into the crystal to give it the full power charge that it needs to sign.
Now take that example and apply it to your soul or spirit. Just because we can’t physically see the soul doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
If we experience physical trauma our bruises and scars heal on the body but not always in the soul. It takes someone like a shamanic practitioner to journey to the spirit realm to retrieve them and rightfully give them back to their client.
Star Wars fans vocally shared their discontent with the treatment of the Luke Skywalker character by writer/director Rian Johnson in The Last Jedi. Even though it could have been executed a little better I think this was just another adaptation of the Hero’s Journey.
This theme has been recycled in countless stories / movies everywhere and with good reason because if it’s done properly it works wonders. In Episode VII Luke is in the shadow aspect of his journey and triumphantly completes his journey saving The Resistance in an act of self sacrifice that costs him his physical life.
Like I said before even though the execution could have been a little smoother this was the part of the saga where Luke performs his own soul retrieval as reconnecting to his Jedi roots and saving those he cares about. The Last Jedi may not be the greatest example of this but I will share a movie where this was done to near perfection.
Enter director Christopher Nolan.
The Dark Knight Rises is the third and final instalment of The Dark Knight trilogy. It had to follow the previous film from 2008 which many consider to be the greatest superhero / action movie ever made. That assessment is not too far off and the iconic posthumous performance of Heath Ledger’s Joker is legendary.
The third film had big shoes to fill and I feel it almost does the job and a big reason is the layered themes of the Hero’s Journey and how it can tie into Soul Retrieval on the big screen. Here’s an excellent video sharing more about the Hero’s Journey, for those that are new to the idea.
At the beginning of this movie Bruce Wayne is mentally and physically beaten down. He lost his childhood love Rachel, his confidante Harvey Dent and the persona of Batman as a whole. He also hadn’t shaved in a dog’s age and needs a cane just to get around Wayne Manor.
He is a character loosely tied to Wayne’s past and comes to slowly wreck havoc on Gotham City. Things reach a boiling point to where Bruce is finally in the right mindset and dons the batsuit again to put a stop to all this. Problem being is that he completely gets his ass handed to him by Bane in a fistfight.
Through here he proceeds to take over Gotham albeit permanently. While Bruce is escorted to the prison where Bane came from halfway across the world known simply as The Pit. Bane doesn’t just leave him there to die but to do it slowly while watching Gotham destroy itself through a satellite feed beside his cell (I’d love to know who footed the bill for that expense!).
When an individual experiences an inordinate amount of Soul Loss in their lifetime they are ruled by their shadow. It envelops and takes over them.
The shadow aspect of ourselves needs to be acknowledged yet held in check. When Bruce gets physically and mentally broken down and left to rot in The Pit he has succumbed to his shadow in the form of Bane and his own personal demons.
But witnessing his city burn on the monitor is too much and he pushes himself to get his body back in shape and to make the climb out of The Pit which has only been done by one person that lived to tell about it. All others perished.
After a lot of time passing and dialogue with fellow inmates who are symbolic of his ego-mind, Bruce makes the triumphant and impossible climb. His life flashes before his eyes, especially when his father repels down a rope to pull him out of the well. Bruce tried climbing out of The Pit tethered to a rope but got told to drop it and that is when he was successful.
This gesture symbolizes that Bruce’s father, Rachel, Harvey Dent were all his rope to pull him from the bottom of the well of his own life.
He makes the climb out of The Pit without the rope and takes a ‘leap of faith’ in order to do so…this is Soul Retrieval.
Bruce is now on his way to reclaiming the safety of Gotham City and its rightful place as its hero. In the scene when he finally returns and fights Bane instead of matching brute strength he uses strategy to damage his mask and get the upper hand.
This can symbolize breaking unwanted patterns in your life which is another benefit of Soul Retrieval. On a side note I wonder if his sidekick in this one Catwoman was an animal totem? I tend to think this is a remote possibility.
“Deshi! Basara Basara! Deshi! Basara Basara!”
“What does that mean?”
-The Pit from The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
The prisoners chant this while Bruce is making the climb. And of course it’s symbolic of the film and the entire character arc of the trilogy. It took Bruce to ‘make the climb’ to reclaim the missing piece of his soul so he could fulfill his destiny as the hero Gotham City needed.
I could have used any example for Soul Retrieval because so many really do apply. This just happens to be one of my favourites and I watched this film a good year and a half before I took the course so I believe that’s why I resonate with it so strongly.
As for the work I did during the course I can’t disclose specifics. What I can say however is that when I was journeying on behalf of others to find their own lost soul pieces I was performing some ‘next level’ type of moves in order to get it back and reunite them.
I surprised myself with how far I can take this ability to heal from that very realm. It was a monumental and pivotal part of my journey that solidified that I had indeed made the right choice to pursue this in the first place.
This corner of core Shamanism can change your life. It certainly changed mine and I’m just beginning to ascend to new heights.
In closing I want to thank each and every one of you for taking this journey with me and giving me positive uplifting feedback as well. I chose to put Soul Retrieval last because I feel it is the glue that holds all of these various modalities together.
Writing about it is difficult because it has to be experienced and felt to appreciate its full impact. I have been blessed to experience it as both a client and a practitioner in training.
The connections I’ve made during these courses have totally been worth it as well. I will end by paraphrasing my teacher that mentions that we are all here to find out why we are here – and that why is to reconnect with our personal power.
Now if only it were that easy…but that doesn’t mean that it’s not impossible and it all starts with one journey. Until next time…Aho!