Spiritual Development

Page 91

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It is often said that the shaman/ess is the Wounded Healer, but just what does that mean? It
means many things, not least of which is stepping up into the role of the shaman/ess to be a
healer with the understanding of what it means to sustain wounds. How that comes about has
wide range and many life experiences that are painful so we can understand the need for
compassion when others suffer....so we can understand what it takes to overcome that suffering
through tolerance of time and efforts others put forth...and so we can share our own experiences
and hence teach those methods of turning victimization into survival and growth.

Stepping up isn't always easy. Sometimes it feels like we have no choice in the matter,
sometimes it feels like that decision must be made. In either case we must accept that role and be
willing to let go of the pain from the past, or the pain this particular step is causing us. To step up
means we have to leave that last step behind, and all those that came before it. That's not always
an easy thing but if you can find your faith in yourself and in Spirit to guide you then that step
becomes lighter.

These things are not restricted to just shamans but are part of the pattern of spiritual growth each
of us faces time and again. I want to talk about the wounding though, the hard part, that point
where transition begins to take hold and puts our life into a chaotic spin indicating change is
forthcoming. It's perfectly normal to want to get out of the chaos, out of the situation that will
cause us pain and perhaps bring pain to those we care about. How can it hurt others? Think about
it....we make choices they may not like, choices that call for us to go in different directions or
leave them behind completely, that hurts. When we have shared our path with others of likemind
and friendships have grown, sometimes those friendships have to come to an end. We
outgrow them too but sometimes they are ripped away and that hurts with the tattered edges afire
with the pain. This happens when the person we have befriended is not able to keep up with the
pace of the path we walk, we essentially step up, but they are on the step we are leaving behind.
We may have minor connections, we may reconnect later, and we may never see each other
again. An unknown looms in the darkness, and we have to pull away regardless. At the time we
can't predict that outcome, but we have to trust that the light Spirit is holding up for us is the one
we are to follow, so we trust our own inner spirit to recognize it's glimmer and lead us forward.
We take the step. It's leading us up a dark mountain with only a pinpoint of light at the top most
of the time. What's "up there?"

Sometimes that step up means that we've taken a wrong turn on our path in life, perhaps
connected to teachings or teachers that are leading us in a direction that is not promoting growth.
Sometimes we have followed them way too long and it's taken us a long time to see that. Waking
up hurts; seeing what we've allowed ourselves to become or the tracks of our deeds hurts; seeing
the pain we may have caused others hurts; taking responsibility for the choices we made hurts.
Each place we hurt wounds us. There is but one way to heal...to turn away, to take a step up, to
embrace our truth and live it. That can hurt.

Sometimes we take a turn in life that leads us down a one way road in the wrong direction. We
fight oncoming traffic, determined to break all the rules and live life our way. We're on a self-
destructive path, putting ourselves (and probably those we are closest to) in danger. At the end of
that one way street is a brick wall and at the bottom of the brick wall there's a seemingly
bottomless pit and we're heading pedal to the metal straight for it. Blinded by our own
misgivings we crash. Sometimes we bounce back right away, shake ourselves off and say
"whew! got through that one", and sometimes we fall into the pit where we have to hit rock
bottom before we can begin the agonizing climb back up out of there...clawing and scraping
foothold, hanging on for dear life so we don't fall back and have to start over again. Drug
addiction, alcoholism, a path of darkness and corruption, crimes against others that were
thoughtless and shameful. We take on the negatives of these actions, and we cast blame on
ourselves for what we've done. In essence we are a victim of our own circumstances and if we
stay a victim we stunt our growth. But how does one survive that? How does one turn it around?
It's a choice we all have to make, and we all head down that road somehow at one time or
another. It's the School of Hard Knocks that we don't recognize until that 2x4 comes out of
nowhere and whacks us over the head good and hard. Sometimes with skull-splitting force. But it
does make the lights come on. "Thank you, Spirit! But Ouch! Did you have to hit me that hard? I
guess so." So we rub the wound and tend it and we look in the mirror to assess the damage.
Sheesh! It's bad!! What a mess life has become, there's no way to undo the wrongs, to take back
what was said, to turn things around...or is there?

Well maybe there is. We can see the wrong, the hurt, and the damage. We can see we do not
want to do that to ourselves or to others again. We can see that enough is enough. We can see
that being a victim of our own doing is not going to serve anything other than to feed the pain.
Can we get beyond the pain? Can we take the next step up? It might hurt but yes, we can. Do we
take it? That's a choice we each have to make, how bad do we want to survive? How bad do we
want to change? What are we willing to do? Are we willing to stop running into the bottomless
pit? The brick wall? The oncoming traffic? Are we willing to look at those around us and break
free of unwanted influences and energies? And if we do then what's ahead? Will we be alone?
Will it be better or more of the same? Ouch, that wound still hurts, and the leg is still aching
from the fall, it hurts to lift it up, even a few inches, and hesitating with it in the air hurts to keep
it there. What to do???

If you want to survive you take the next step and find out what it leads to. Gosh! It feels good to
be on level ground again, getting your bearings you look around and all you see is a mirror.
Better check out the damage. Ouch! Look at that reflection...where I've been, what I've done, and
where I am now. Where are you? Well, you're at a point of learning and growth, you see the truth
for what it is, understand full well the process of getting where you are, and the need to not go
back that way again. The healing has begun, not an easy thing, it may take a long time for a full
recovery, but you're moving forward at least. Life teaches us like this many times, again and
again, different song/issues, but it's the same dance. When we exhaust ourselves we decide it's
time for different steps, different songs and we start seeking them out. The healing begins and we
have compassion to seek, forgiveness to ask for, changes to make.

So we seek and what we search for is not always there. We burn some bridges and move on.
Sometimes we are able to find that compassion, forgiveness, and even a hand extended to help us
through our time of change. We find in this gratitude for the success, and confidence we can do it
again, take it a step further. The process and the pattern continues. Once through the healing we
can reflect in that mirror again and say: "Stars! I've come a long way." We learn what it takes to
do that, and we see others who are where we once were. Because we changed we want to help
them do the same, but we know because we've been there ourselves that the desire must come
from them. We've learned tolerance for them, and others like them, that are learning these
lessons in life the hard way. We've learned compassion for the road to recovery. We've learned
appreciation for the help that is sometimes offered and the desperate need to have it during
moments of weakness. Gosh, we've got empathy in our hearts for those shattered spirits, and in
that our own spirit takes strength and grows to expand and extend that helping hand when it is
needed and asked for. We hear the voice that cries for help and we can recognize when it means
it or when it is wallowing in the victimization of self-pity. We know when to extend our own
hand and help someone heal.

Through our lessons we learn what is needed, we change, and transform, and those steps though
sometimes quite steep ask us to continue to climb the mountain. Atop the mountain is Spirit,
holding up that light that says "this is the way" and carve our path to get there. This is the path of
the Wounded Healer, one who has been there or witnessed much in life, who has suffered to
know, and who has the compassion and love within them to help others overcome the hard times
and the rough spots. The path of one who knows what it is to walk away from those they care for
but can no longer remain with. Who have they walked from? Lifelong friends or short term
friends, does it matter, they were friends. Family estrangements, disappointments, divorce, a
child given up for adoption, does it matter, they were family. A teacher or healer that brought
them compassion, brought them enlightenment, brought them healing, does it matter, they were
taught and they were healed. The time has come to let go, to move on, to continue the journey
down a path that is always unfolding, always calling "come forward", and so the next step is
taken and sometimes it hurts, but we take it anyway, we grow and we survive to press forward.

As we rise up on this mountain of stairs our perspective gets stronger, the light gets brighter, we
see a little further, we expand our minds a little more and we take heart that our inner spirit is
taking us where we need to go, it recognizes the truths before us and shouts at us to "follow that
truth!". So we take the next step. As we continue to climb and we look back we can now see how
far we've come, but we have to stop to rest to do that or we might lose our footing on this narrow
path...we might tumble and fall back to the bottom, have to start all over again, no, we can't go
back, only forward, and sometimes that hurts. There's a landing up ahead though, a ledge that
offers a place to rest for the night, that's where camp will be made. As we draw closer we can
make out the figure of someone occupying that shelf, we must ask to share it. It's either a
stranger, one who will teach us as our paths cross, or it's an old friend that found a short cut (or
not) to get there before us. Either way a connection is made and we're able to assimilate the
journey with the help and sharing they offer us. Again learning to exchange our help for theirs
and together two lives touch, and grow, and become better for it.

It's a purging process and we all have things in our lives we'd like to forget but forgetting is
denial. We can move past them but only after we've embraced them as part of our shadow and
found the gratitude within to see them for the lessons they were. The old wounds heal, but they
leave scars behind to mark that perilous journey. Scars that are reminders, visible or not, to hold
our compassion and tolerance and to extend our hand. We become the shaman/ess in our own
fashion, and our wounds make us the Healer...and now we can smile, we can let the love of Spirit
that has taught us so much, shown us our path, shine from our hearts to light the way for another
who is seeking and will touch us as we touch them. This is the path of the Wounded Healer.

Libraries are on this row
INDEX Page 1
(Divination & Dreams, Guides & Spirit Helpers)
INDEX Page 2
INDEX Page 3
(Main Section, Medicine Wheel, Native Languages & Nations, Symbology)
INDEX Page 4
(Myth & Lore)
INDEX Page 5
(Sacred Feminine & Masculine, Stones & Minerals)
INDEX Page 6
(Spiritual Development)
INDEX Page 7
(Totem Animals)
INDEX Page 8
(Tools & Crafts. Copyrights)

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