Given the solemnity and joy for many people on this particular holiday—at least for those who actually celebrate it as a Holy Day—I thought that it might be good for me to do some yoga, meditation, and ceremony of a sort. It is a day of renewal and in many ways represents the true New Year. So as my wife and son, Anna and Kivi, continued sleeping, I got up determined to do some “traditional” shamanic journeying on this Christmas Day.
[Please note that what follows is a lesson for me regarding following my own path to truth. Neither I nor any of my spirit guides have any intention of criticizing other shamanic paths. The point, rather, is to embrace all paths that lead to truth while being true to one’s own truths. May all beings prosper as they follow their appropriate paths. By the way, I love drumming but have just never been called to engage in it in my own practice.]
My intention on this day was to follow through with the advice that the Grandfather Tree in the forest on our ridge had given me about a week ago. On that day, as I was walking ceremoniously (and what for me could be called “shamanically”) through the forest, I was drawn to the Grandfather Tree along with some other spots I am often called to, although not always all together on the same particular day.
As I leaned into the tree with my forehead pressed against it, the Grandfather began addressing me. He began with his usual greetings and friendly words and vibrations—I rarely hear much more from him, although I often feel that I have gained some energetic wisdom during each of our visits. But suddenly and unexpectedly he said, “You need to undergo a shamanic journey.” Surprised, I asked him to say more.
“You need to undergo a shamanic journey. A journey involving soul retrieval. Long ago in a distant lifetime you lost a key element of your soul, and now you need to get it back. During this journey you will meet with a being who will offer you an object embodying your lost soul part. You must accept this object, swallow it whole, and then you will be restored after many lifetimes of deprivation and suffering. This particular Karmic trail is coming to an end.”
I was surprised to receive this advice, or, perhaps, more wary than anything else. For I had never done a journey for a soul retrieval before. And beyond that, I have always had more confidence in my shamanic work for others than for myself. I am often too self-conscious to see things as clearly as I think I should when it comes to helping myself, and so I often end up feeling a bit frustrated after doing some personal spiritual task.
A few days ago I tried to do such a soul-retrieval journey for myself, but with only partial success. I put on some shamanic drumming music and, after my ritual yoga and pranayama workout, lay down on my yoga mat and closed my eyes. Initially things felt great. I eased into the drumming rhythm, the heartbeat of the worlds, and quickly drifted into a dark and cloudy sleepy kind of space. I could tell that what was being prepared for me was a kind of projector screen, a backdrop for the visions that might come to me in this alternate dimension.
Soon I saw a faint glow in the center of my visual field. The glow grew a little in size but not much in intensity. At a certain point I noticed that within this growing glowing circle there was a winged being—an angel. I tried to make direct contact with this angelic being, but after a few seconds it began shifting shape. It then slowly dawned on me that the angel had changed form into the crocodile-headed humanoid god of Egypt known as Sobek.
I have seen several classical Egyptian figures in my visionary journeys in the past few years, but never Sobek. In this visionary state I established an energetic communication stream with him, but I never heard him speak any clearly identifiable words. Eventually I simply drifted off into a dreamy, floating sleep, feeling wrapped in a warm and dark womblike atmosphere that seemed like an opiate haze. After twenty minutes of this comfortable, indefinite slumber, I awoke and realized that I had gone on a dream journey, but one that evidently will have to wait before I achieve any kind of enlightenment and meaning from it beyond the beautiful sense of comfort. The key point was that no being, not even this Sobek, had offered me anything that I recognized as an object that I should swallow in order to retrieve my lost soul energy ball. So I knew then that I would have to try again to journey into the proper environmental conditions for a successful soul retrieval.
Days went by without a good opportunity for such a journey when Christmas Day arrived. I woke up early and decided that my first gift to myself would be to attempt another retrieval journey and hope for better results at Christmas.
As in my earlier attempt on the day when I encountered Sobek, I began with my usual opening up preliminary exercises—yoga and pranayams—and then lay down on the carpet in our yoga room. Again I began to slip into a dreamy fantastic space, comforting and opiate in tenor. I called on my main spirit guide, Turehu—in her words, a “fairy of the highest order”—and asked her to accompany me on this journey, hoping that in her presence I might better stay awake and draw this figure to me who would offer me my lost soul ball. She began helping by speaking to me about the benefits and drawbacks of my previous attempt at soul retrieval. And then fairly quickly she stopped and suggested that this particular method of lying down with closed eyes might not be my proper journeying mode.
“What do you normally do when you journey, Gabriel?” she asked.
I told her that I usually sit in a yoga position on my meditation pillow and drift off into the Otherworld in that posture.
“Then why,” she asked, “are you lying down on the floor with your eyes closed when this is not your usual method?”
I had to admit that I was doing so because I had recently been challenged concerning my personal shamanic procedures, the suggestion being that I should follow more “conventionally-accepted” methods. This was, in fact, why during my earlier attempt at soul retrieval I had taken the corpse-pose and the drumming background as my approach.
Acknowledging that there is immense power in shamanic drumming, Turehu nevertheless then suggested that I take my usual position, given my success with that procedure, and ignore the criticisms, however well-meaning. So I got up and sat on my meditation cushion and immediately entered the Otherworld.
I could now see Turehu there, standing to my left—an indefinite yet beautifully warm human-shaped glow. Like the other fairies I have seen, Turehu is not at all some small flower-like being as we see in Disney movies but actually a humanoid form that is larger than the typical human. The typical fairy, as they have presented themselves to me, is seven to eight feet tall. And so this was how I saw Turehu on Christmas morning.
With Turehu at my side, I then peered into the mist of the Otherworld—the “Mists of Avalon,” as I now call it—that has come to characterize my current state of visionary encounter. I waited, hoping for the being that the Grandfather Tree had predicted to appear and hand me my soul orb and ask me to swallow it in order to repair my fragmented state of being. I again saw angels coming and going in the glowing center of the visual field, but none came forward to offer me anything.
At a certain moment a realization shot through me like a bolt of lightning. “Wait a minute—I have been waiting for some new, strange being to greet me. But what if the being I have been waiting for is Turehu herself?” As soon as I became conscious of this question, I also knew in my greatest depths that this was the truth. Here I had been waiting for some new being to approach and introduce itself when all along my beloved spirit guide Turehu was there by my side with a brightly glowing orb in her left hand.
I slowly and ceremoniously accepted it, lifting it from her hand and carrying it to my mouth. As soon as I placed the orb into my mouth—it appeared to be about the size of a billiard ball but with no noticeable densely material mass—I felt that lightning shooting once more throughout my being. This is a frequent experience when I encounter power beings and enter into an energetic continuum with them. But this was probably the most beautiful intense electrocution I had ever experienced. It shot throughout my whole physical body and soon I felt it shooting throughout my etheric, astral, and mental bodies and well. After a good thirty or forty seconds of this spirit energy charging through my being, I saw the orb slowly pass down through my esophagus, my stomach, and then take its place in the hollow pit in my Third Chakra, just below my sternum. It fit itself perfectly into this chamber and then its glow intensified and flowed throughout the various levels of my body, from physical to causal.
Turehu, now standing directly in front of me, then placed her hands on my shoulders and looked me square in the eyes.
“You are whole now, Gabriel. You are once more reunited with your soul essence. Over time you will come to learn in detail how you initially lost it and why it has taken this many lifetimes for it to be returned to you. But the main point for you to recognize is that you are now whole. You are complete. And nobody else’s definition of you matters unless it fits with the truth of yourself that you know in your very being. You now know what is true for you, what is your very own truth.
“This is why the traditional journeying posture would not work for you. That posture and the definitions that go along with it are appropriate for some shamans. But your own version of shamanism is growing out of your very being. That is the only appropriate method and definition for you—the one that comes from your connection to your Higher Self. This, in part, is what it means to be whole, to be complete.”
In tears I thanked her. I slowly opened my eyes and embraced a whole new Christmas Day and a whole new me.