Sometimes I’m left in awe with how magical and mystical this spiritual journey is. Always connecting us to the right people, and the right moments to help us take the next steps forward. Meeting the shaman in-making, Phil has been no less synchronistic! We are all so fortunate to be able to witness his journey into shamanism through his guest writings here, on My Spiritual Shenanigans. And today, he takes things deeper for us – giving us a glimpse of shamanic topics like extraction, divination and casting grid.
Here’s Phil for you.
Sometimes I think I was a detective in a past life. This feeling has been amplified since I have developed and sharpened my own intuition over the years. I’m able to pick up on verbal nuances and non verbal cues. I can read body language very intently and tend to piece together and solve the problems of others.
Not to toot my own horn but there are times when I feel like a modern day Sherlock Holmes. As far-fetched as that may sound it’s really not too far off of my current path into Shamanic healing. If I’m losing you at this point – good – I want you to be thrown off track as the mystery will unravel itself.
Earlier this summer, I decided to watch a late night movie. I don’t normally engage in television unless I find something quite compelling. This particular evening I found Guy Ritchie’s 2009 version of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle classic. I hadn’t watched this in years, and forgot how twisted and deliciously entertaining this movie really was. But there was one scene I kept revisiting because I couldn’t get it out of my head.
Sherlock Holmes character in fact had a tool used by Shamans in order to help him crack the case. He uses his fiddle as a sonic driver!
Robert Downey Jr., Iron Man himself plays an eccentric and amped up version of Holmes. He’s seen trying to figure out the motives of the master manipulator villain, Lord Blackwell (played brilliantly by Mark Strong).
This is the point in the film where the hero is at a crossroads and isn’t sure if they will complete their task. Holmes is playing a chromatic scale repeatedly on his violin, while numerous dialogue clips are running through his mind until he cracks and throws the instrument down in frustration. This is followed by him lighting up his trademark pipe. And finally his mind is clear and he gets the answer he’s looking for.
Through this clarity, he remembers someone mentioned to him about the answer lying in the ‘Book of Spells’. Holmes goes straight for the book, and sets up what looks like to be some kind of a black magic ritual from it. Then, he goes into a trance.
Key scenes from the story flash through his mind in a dreamlike state and the next morning he is woken up by his team, Watson and Irene. He discusses his findings and puts together the final piece of the puzzle which ends up saving all of London.
In Shamanic terms, Holmes used the fiddle as his sonic driver instead of a drum or a rattle.
Once it quietened his mind, he smoked from his pipe. Which to me represents his journey to a more clear state – which what happens when the sonic driver takes effect and brings one into an alternate realm.
Once he gets the internal answer, he dives deep into the book. Much like a journey to the Lower World that I previously discussed in my last entry, Holmes goes into a lucid trance guided by visions, symbols and internal dialogue. He eventually pieces together in waking life to solve a very serious problem that will eventually lead to the defeat of his nemesis.
My point to this example is this. This sacred work can appear in many different forms and sometimes in ways we don’t expect.
This was certainly one of those times. And what I am discussing in this writing will focus on two of the newest teachings I have received along my Shamanic path – Extraction and Divination.
In both of these courses I gained new knowledge from Spirit in the most unexpected forms. Some of them not overly pleasant but extremely important to my own growth. Even though I completed the Extraction course first, I have to go in reverse order and start with Divination, which I just recently completed. You’ll see how it connects and flows better for you, this way.
Along Came A Spider Of Divination
Divination to me is a more extended version of journeying. Its essential meaning is to understand hidden or undiscovered knowledge. It adds more depth and variety to one’s shamanic journeying practice.
Instead of journeying to one of the hidden worlds with a specific question you can allow Spirit to make that choice for you or even journey without asking a specific question and be shown what you need to see. I believe this is what happened during my first ever Shamanic healing as a client in 2019.
One can use rocks, symbols, crystals and a connection with certain objects out within nature. These require seeing helpful visions within those various objects and differing journeying techniques.
In this writing I will choose not to focus so much on these as they do not fully gel with me and likely will not be a major part of my practice. That is the beauty of incorporating Divination to your Shamanic practice. There is no dogma or strict regulations.
If it doesn’t fit into your practice, it doesn’t fit. So incorporate what will work for you or the client. At the moment I will focus on a couple of things that worked wonders for me.
The first one is getting answers not from the alternate realms but from the sonic driver itself.
Like Sherlock Holmes playing scales on his violin, I learned how to hold the drum up to the side of my head and play. I would ask a question and the drum would put me in a trance and provide the answer.
I’ve continued practicing this method after the course completed, and I already feel the connection getting stronger. It’s about becoming one with the instrument and its vibration. A very neat strategy to add to my Shamanic toolkit.
The other one I would like to share involves casting objects onto a grid.
The number I used was eight and I believe is fairly standard. Jot down a question. And then, through the guidance of a drum, you will journey in the Middle World. In that state, you will write down the first word that comes to you on a chart. Each object has a meaning in the Lower, Middle and Upper World.
After that is done you bring out the casting grid. Now, I’m not a big crystal person but I assume it’s similar to what’s known as a crystal grid. The grid is divided into the three worlds and you literally shake and cast your objects from nature and see which world they land in.
I don’t mean to make light of this but it is almost equivalent to a spiritual version of the game Yahtzee. Board games were a major part of my childhood so it took me back…it was fun. But what I wasn’t expecting was the result.
In order to complete this exercise, you take the objects that landed in each section and match them with the words you wrote on your chart. Put them into your journal, then tie them together in complete sentences.
I can’t guarantee this is the same result each time, but what came through for me was the Lower World was where I am. The Middle World is the transformation needed. And the Upper World is where you will soar once that change happens.
This is something I will try again later on. However before I reach the last part of this writing I have to quickly talk about my new animal totems.
My spirit animal is the mourning dove. Ever since I first connected with it a couple of years back, I cannot underestimate the amount of help it has been to me. What I came to unknowingly realize in my Shamanic studies is that animal totems or your power animals can manifest in this realm if they need your attention.
In my Journeying course, back in the spring, I connected with a new power animal in the Lower World that ended up being a beetle. About a month before this writing I found a big nasty Jewel Beetle crawling across my kitchen floor. Never had one before or since but the meaning behind the beetle is basically focus and productivity.
On some other Lower World journeys I would see a big spider lurking around and it was quite alarming. Big spiders kind of creep me out. Not a fan and when I saw one in the Lower World I wasn’t frightened of it. If I was, it would have likely meant to be some sort of lesson involving shadow-work or dealing with something unpleasant.
During this course I finally got wind that this was a totem that wasn’t there to hurt or frighten me but to work with me.
One of the main meanings behind a spider totem is to weave a ‘web of dreams’ and will give you clarity of how and what to manifest in your ideal world.
This is exactly what happened however the journey ended just when I was getting clarity. I was disappointed but I didn’t want to disrupt the class and decided to come back to it later. Well, the universe decided that too as the practice space got a visit from not one, but two small spiders throughout the day. And they hung around near my space too.
Recently I continued this journey and the spider weaved my web of dreams in the journey and was on its way. I included this amazing story because just because you see animal totems that you may not like in the physical realm, doesn’t necessarily mean that they are there to cause harm or induce fear.
This was a gift I could not have predicted. However when you work with the practice of Extraction it is imperative that you give yourself means of protection. Let’s talk more about that now.
Extraction, Epiphany and the summoning of the ‘Painmaker’
Extraction is essentially a method of removing spiritual illness from an individual (note: NOT a medical illness). This practice is to help rid the energetic body of intrusions disguised in the forms of inappropriate or negative energies. In a worst case scenario, they can show up as attachments or dark entities.
While this practice is not a substitute for medical help, sometimes energetic ailments can manifest into the physical body. Therefore some long standing pain or tension can subside after this session but also may return if the spirit / energetic body is not properly maintained. Any form of energetic toxicity or negative beliefs or self talk can be whisked away if this practice is used correctly.
And my memory may be fuzzy but I think I wanted to take the Divination course before this one and the timing just didn’t add up. This aspect of Shamanic practice can get pretty serious, and maybe a little scary, as you don’t quite know what you might be dealing with.
Due to the potential danger of this work the practitioner beforehand has to journey to the Upper World and seek protection. Your higher self will help you find your protector guide and merge them with yourself. Yes – this really does happen and can be a little bit overwhelming.
In a fascinating note, mine manifested as Gandalf The White. And when I asked why, the answer was along the lines of ‘You need to protect yourself with the same light energy that I used to defeat the Balrog’.
Okay then. I cannot argue with that one! Once I got that down part, I knew I was ready to go. But yet again I had to expect the unexpected.
I am going to treat the following example as if I were working with a paying client. Out of privacy I am not liable to describe this person’s situation, physicality and where I was able to identify the issues. But what I can describe is what I saw in my mind’s eye and how powerful this work really was from my own perspective.
This individual was late for the course, seemed unsettled and after our meal break just let everything loose and broke down. I felt their pain as about a decade prior I lived through some similar stress without this kind of support system in place.
Not to take pleasure in others’ misfortune but I was ecstatic when I was chosen to perform this work on them! Because deep down I knew I could help. After I merged with my guide and got to work, some amazing things happened.
In Extraction, I would describe the process as being quite similar to a hands-off reiki session.
One could use a pendulum to find the energetic ailments but I was taught how to do the same function with my hands and when the hand shakes. That’s where you know work needs to be done. I essentially became the pendulum.
Once I knew which area to work on, I started getting visions. And I’ll say it was a combination of a surgeon digging out unwanted tissue, and scooping out the innards of a pumpkin to carve a Jack-O-Lantern.
That may sound gruesome but it’s essentially what I saw and was a reminder of how badly this area was affected with negative energy. Extraction requires a scooping motion to remove the intrusion, so that’s likely why I saw what I saw.
Fast forward to after the session was done and this individual was at a new level of calm and clarity. They were grateful and so was I. I’ll be seeing them again when I resume courses in the Fall, and I hope the work I was able to do with Spirit running through me had a lasting effect.
Sometimes those in the most despair can be some of our greatest teachers. The entire experience was an epiphany that I was on the right track and that I could really do this and potentially make a difference to others.
Fast forward to mid summer for myself. Due to the outcome of some personal situations, my mental health took a bit of a dive. A lot of it was due to being stuck in what felt like similar karmic patterns I couldn’t seem to break.
To get through this, I may have performed a version of Extraction without even realizing it. All of the negative thoughts and energies that were tearing me up internally needed to be defeated. In order to do that I had to give it a face, a voice and a name.
The faces were three villains in my scope of pop culture morphed into a hideous entity (hint: I mentioned one earlier in this writing) and I called it the Painmaker. Once I made this assessment I was able to not only have internal dialogue with it but to tame it. And eventually cast it out.
Since this revelation, it has made its return but I cast it out again. It’s not going away any time soon but when it comes to corrupt my energy and well being…I’m ready to battle.
I brought this up to my Shamanic teacher and was told this could be a form of Soul Retrieval.
What The Future May Hold…
I hope you enjoyed this read. It was a long one but the deeper I get into my explorations with shamanism, that is how it’s going to be.
I will complete the final part of this written trilogy in late 2021 after I have completed all of my courses. The next writing I publish may even be talking about opening my own practice. But first I will learn about the other Shamanic modes: Psychopomp, Soul Retrieval (a further showdown with the Painmaker perhaps?) and Entering The Dreamtime.
At this stage I have no idea what that last one means but I’m sure it will be incredible. In closing I just wanted to say once again, that everything written in this series is from the perspective of a novice. It is meant for others to learn about this ancient, sacred healing art and hopefully inspire the reader to pick up their own practice personally or professionally one day.