The Hammer and Anvil teachings
Sometimes, just as in the Zen meditative tradition, when a student goes to sleep, the master hits them with a stick to wake up. The Hammer and Anvil teachings are the metaphor for teaching at that level in the tradition of Zen Tantric Shamanism.
A communication to a former apprentice
Initiation, Invitation, Imitation and Invocation
You speak of how the gathering represented another leap (-your word,- "initiation") in your leadership.
I find there is far too much loose talk using the word initiation. Across 25 years there are 6 or 7 events in my life to which I would give that term. They were all powerful, cellularly encoding, life re-orienting, energetic events. In two cases, they were so powerful that the very possibility of me continuing in incarnated form was severely called into question.
I believe it is best in the shamanic context to keep the word initiation for events such as these. Anything less than this dilutes, confuses and devalues the experiences of genuine initiation as well as those who travel the path.
For me, initiation is either when Spirit scoops us up in its hands and takes us deeply into the Mystery, far beyond where we ever could have imagined our consciousness and existence dancing together or when we enter, always surprisingly, into another dimension of existence previously hidden from us (those areas that I delineate as 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, etc, dimensions of consciousness where the relation between time, space, existence, consciousness and perhaps a miniscule thread of the memory of our incarnation go into the spin dry cycle of the cosmic washing machine).
Another aspect of experience to which I will give the description initiatory are those times when Spirit both reveals and implants, at cellular and genetic levels, a whole range of vibratory informational frequencies that are personally and incarnationally transformative. In some of these events people may be out of their bodies for days, sometimes even a week or two and the event may take years to assimilate into the person’s life. So it is for these extra-ordinary events that I wish to claim the term 'initiation'. Anything less than these may be described in any way the speaker wishes but as the carrier of an initiatory tradition and initiatory knowledge I have to speak to remind you of these things.
You might ponder, if you regard your teaching as shamanic, by what authority you teach shamanically.
What was the event or events where as a result of your total surrender of your life to Spirit's purpose you are authorised directly by Spirit to teach her ways? (his ways, its ways, which ever ways).
If this has not yet happened in your life may I counsel you to think hard and long before you claim the awesome responsibility of guiding people in the ways of Spirit. Nothing less than total surrender of one's life as in the biblical situation; "Here I am Lord, use me in whatever way you will," can really count unless it is direct authorisation from a teacher within a lineage who has him or herself gone through the initiatory/surrender process and authorised you to teach to a certain level. I suspect that this may be why when you tried to incorporate vision work deliberately into the gathering.... this was the most difficult part to achieve clearly. In vision work we are working with the energy of the soul coming to know how the soul works in the incarnatory journey and structuring events and processes to bring the soul further into embodiment and the knowledge of the soul's force into the egoic mind.
The Dying to Live program is structured to bring individuals closer to the clear light of their soul's insight and all who attend are invited consciously on that journey. To take a part of that process and "lay it on" the participants is likely to lead precisely to what you term the "resistance to 'us telling them' what they needed to do, from some of the old hands in the business." The men's movement like the women's movement is a process of gender politics. At times a healing one, but gender politics nevertheless. As the soul has no gender, many men might rightfully be confused by having someone attempting soul work in a gender political situation and I believe you should take the censure of your critics to heart for there is much to learn from their comments.
The above constitutes my comments on the invitation and imitation aspects of the title of this communication.
In shamanic work and in perhaps most areas of spiritual teaching a certain reluctance and dread as one approaches a teaching time serves us well. If dread seems a little harsh might I refer you to one of the great contemporary planetary shamans, the guru of the mushroom, Terence McKenna, who speaks of how one might approach the nouminous with a certain fear as one never knew if one's sails might be ripped and the vessel dismasted.
What is it that he knows that you are yet to learn?
Finally, to invocation. In working shamanically, one invokes the presence of unseen energies of Spirit. One does this through ones own surrender to them and through making one's body, feelings, mind and soul available for them to work through. This is a precious, demanding, compelling, uplifting, overpowering and extraordinarily responsible function.
Is this what you are called to do?
And are you prepared for the next level of discipline, demands and surrender that are absolutely necessary to be able to clearly work at the level that you seem to wish to do.
Are you ready for the transformational process that may demand you to let go of your career, your children, your name and your identity as you currently understand it
Sometimes, Spirit asks for no less than this if we are to be a vessel and a channel for her (him, it, etc).
Blessings on the journey, Daricha
A copy of prior communication to an former apprentice.
You really don't get it do you? In spite of our lengthy correspondence last year, "Initiation, Imitation, etc", you are planning to take the men at the men's gathering through what you term an "initiation/rebaptism much along the lines of the water breath initiation you conducted at 'Shaman's Doorway.' "
Into what do you imagine you are initiating these men?
After all, initiation is always into something; a mode of knowledge, a way of life, a new dimension of consciousness, a different way of being. The activity of which you speak, the water breath initiation, was presented as part of a carefully crafted entrance to enable entry into the shamanic world and that whole process (the Shaman's Doorway) needed five days to invite and encourage the shift. Shaman's Doorway is a shamanic initiatory process, is advertised as such and the participants who come are aware of this, although probably not aware of how it will happen. You may remember that the water breath initiation was part of a series of initiations into the elements; water, fire, earth and air, and additionally was designed to enable men to release fears deeply held in their body. Once having done that, to announce to the assembled witnesses the claiming of their shamanic name, and should Spirit have its way with them, experience the inrush of the Spirit of that name. Other activities which followed this, were designed to give them the chance to begin to live in and from that part of themselves.
By what authority would you consider conducting (your words) "an initiation"
You never really answered the really substantive issues that I raised last year. You are an apprentice treading the shamanic path and it seems are eager to teach that path. You are also a leader in the Men's movement and teach in that. Because you have failed to exhaustively examine the excellent reasons for distinguishing between the men's movement and your shamanic path you continue to wish to conflate the two and the simple truth is that you are not yet ready to teach as a shaman. If you had developed a systematic functioning link with your own being it would be giving you the processes you need for your teaching and you wouldn't need to constantly be borrowing from the work of others, because Spirit would constantly be downloading "that which it is your's to teach."
To reach this space would require that you undergo a series of initiations and allow Spirit to have its way with you, extend you, take you past your known limits to where the Mystery confronts you, face to face; to experience the absolute possibility of your literal and metaphoric death; to touch into places of unimaginable beauty; to have the operations of your mind transformed, so that it no longer works through its learnt intellectual functions but rather the intellect is simply the servant of the heartful organic mind; to see how contingent most of what is claimed as knowledge is; to feel the essential fabric of the subtle mists of beauty which are the uppermost reaches of your soul; and to go beyond them into the Source of your own Spirit; to surrender your life, totally, wholly and unconditionally now and for ever to be the servant of the forces of the evolution of the Divine on this planet..... then you would be ready to teach and have something to teach as well.
Hubris and Nemesis.
The ancient Greeks through their Mystery traditions developed a fine understanding of many aspects of human beings and the ones that come to mind at the moment are those of human folly where humans insulted or challenged the gods by their foolish pride. This was hubris. The definition that stays most in my mind and seems apposite here is "overweening pride and ambition," or in the tragedies it was excessive pride towards, or defiance of the gods, leading to nemesis. Nemesis was distributive justice, personified by the goddess of retribution.
In the early stages of one's shamanic career there is a tendency to "show off ", to display how many tools we have in our medicine bag, to contend for the position of number one nungcari. I know this well for I have been there and seen others of my apprentices go there as well. When one is learning to travel this path a certain modesty even decorum about one's work serves us well. For then, should Spirit challenge us, we have something in reserve and can go that extra mile to enable us to get through.
Men's Work and Shamanic Work.
You mention that you are "wary of our different views on mixing men's and shamanic work". And well you might be. You never replied to my elucidation concerning this, and blithely continue on as if I never attempted to give you guidance on this. Given that you are still in the stage of your unfolding where you process information through the cognitive structures of the intellectual mind rather than the feeling structures of the organic mind, your capacity to "see" the nature of the shamanic enterprise is still limited. However if you use those cognitive structures, write your arguments down, use your intelligence to read in the world wide literature of shamanism, develop your ideas, then certain conclusions will emerge. Just saying, basically, 'We have different points of view," simply echoes the worst excesses of the modernist world view.
I am wanting you to grapple with the reality that many shamanic cultures, distinguish between the initiation into manhood including full tribal participatory membership, and initiation into the ways of Spirit and the "medicine way." In these cultures initiation into adulthood is a spiritual process, and the calling into the shamanic way is a specialised set of procedures and preparations. Is your refusal to see the difference simply a product of your shamanic ignorance?
This lineage also makes that distinction? What part of your desperate need for recognition and positions of power won't allow you to also see this? The fact that a member may have shared some shamanic practices with your men's group, most of whom had done work with Rachana and me, simply indicates the special nature of that group, it doesn't mean that you should attempt to take shamanic initiatory practices into the Men's movement. Additionally it seems that your teaching skills in those situations are still developing.
Humility in the Face of Spirit.
I invite you to reflect on this.
You indicate that a woman has approached you to be your apprentice. This would certainly be an odd situation where the apprentice has an apprentice. I notice that you gave it some consideration, which fits in with the perspective on hubris that I outlined above.
What is your medicine? What type of shaman are you? What are your predilections? What knowledge has Spirit given you to teach? When did your receive the calling from Spirit to share with others, that which It has given you to teach? What is the lineage within which you have been formed? Do you have the authority of that lineage to teach its ways? In what way did that authority come to you? If it hasn't been given to you how could you even consider sharing this knowledge with another?
Shamanism is a sacred path, not a collection of techniques, processes, skills, knacks, abilities, bits and pieces of a jigsaw that can be pulled apart, and used in any other context that it is thought fitting. On the other hand an eclectic approach to contemporary therapy is just that.Learn to tell the difference.
A Proposal for Your Consideration.
You conclude your e-mail by writing," I will always be grateful for your guidance along this path... in pragmatic terms, what is next." You might well keep this gratefulness in mind as you process your reactions to this communication.
In terms of what is next I would suggest the following. 1.Release yourself from all ideas of teaching 'shamanically," until you have completed your apprenticeship. (Note the feelings that this evokes, as they will be a clue to what is driving you in your current situation.)
2.Find other outlets that can meet your needs to feel important and be acknowledged.
3.Resist your wishes to cannibalise your shamanic training to present pieces of it in "men's work."
4.Undertake "Returning to the Source" later this year, and learn a whole new set of ways of accessing deeply altered states of awareness. This will enable you to access realms where original strategies for working with men can be received.
5.Undertake a guided reading program to extend your knowledge of the world's shamanic traditions, Transpersonal Psychology and Philosophy. I am prepared to guide and communicate with you on this.
6.Keep your sense of humour!