One of my eagle clan brothers (one of the more Nordic lines of eagles) invited me to his Ancestralization ceremony which follows the African tradition set down by Malidoma Patrice Some’. Dr. Some’ was instrumental in the development of the men’s movement when he brought his ancestors’ traditional initiation into manhood ceremonies into Western consciousness. Another eagle brother, Philip Scott uses several different cultural traditions in his work at Ancestral Voice. I attended Phillip’s Inipi Ceremony a few years ago and met a man who had just returned from his Vision Quest with Phillip. We became friends and colleagues. I knew Daniel Foor had a more European shamanic background, so I visited Foor’s ancestral medicine site and watched the video interview with Dr. Foor entitled Ancestors vs Ghosts. He stresses the importance of having effective funeral rites and ceremonies to insure death transforms us into ancestors instead of getting stuck as ghosts.
Daniel’s presentation reflects Dr. Eduardo Duran’s concern that proper ceremonies were not done for our indigenous ancestors and therefore some spirits were confused and have not yet transitioned. Ed discussed the Native American Soul Wound and advised us at a Wellness Workshop ten years ago to do the ceremonies, to remember our tribal traditions, and heal the land in the process. This is good work to be doing and it pleases me that many different healers are becoming involved in doing this work.
Within the Brazilian Santo Daime tradition is another healer doing similar work. He also has a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, Padrinho Paulo Roberto from Rio de Janeiro .
I have attended several of Paulo’s Illumination Works and find them fascinating. The basic strategy is to allow suffering and malicious spirits to become embodied in Church members who are mediums. Once embodied these spirits, which are usually ancestral in character, are encouraged to consider leaving the lower Darkness, entering the House of Redemption where they can “confess” and receive forgiveness for the damage they have caused the countless generations who have lived out patterns these ancestors have never relinquished. Often these spirits are offered a small amount of ayahuasca (the Santo Daime), treated by the Doctor, and invited to turn toward and travel to the Light, the Divine Source which created them. At these Illumination Works which I have attended, Paulo accepted my involvement (as I follow the White Eagle lineage) to support the healing of these spirits. Often I have used my skills in “cleaning off” the mediums of psychic refuse which can remain after they have returned to their normal selves. In this way our North American traditions are recognized and appreciated by our South American relatives.
It is important to distinguish the work done by the healer from his/her personal life and behavior. When we get personally involved with the healers, as supporters, friends, and lovers, it is very difficult to walk our talk with integrity. Those ancestors sneak up on us when we least expect it, no matter how much of this work we say we have done, it seems there is still more to do. Misunderstandings, lack of communication skills, acting out unconscious patterns, projecting onto our friends, seeing supporters as enemies, and personal immaturity are all part of the healer’s Shadow side. We all have this baggage and we will all act it out, either in waking life or in dreams. Seeing ourselves as human and not getting inflated with our successes is part of looking in the mirror of others and seeing ourselves reflected there. Consider this dream:
A thin young man dressed in gray linen pants and shirt slips off the raised boardwalk. When I catch up to him we engage each other in conversation. We are walking with several others. Next we climb up forest green steps. He wants to show off for me.
He drops his pants and shirt. He’s wearing speedo swim shorts and enters a blue water course (like the restaurant floor in Cloud Atlas’ Neo Seoul).
He is retracing the steps of his past performance, literally stepping on crimson red footprints. Each step creates a musical sound as he rushes over the edge and disappears. I hear a splash. I am in the VIP lounge up above where I have been watching. He is gone.
I called my colleague the Raven and shared the dream, telling him whom the young man reminded me of, but confessed I was puzzled by the story line of the dream. Raven saw the immaturity of the man symbolized by his attire and youth. He reminded me of how younger men project their “good father” ideal onto me. The dream image reflected a man I knew a few years ago. His father was a Vietnam Veteran whose trauma paralyzed his ability to express love to his son. Feeling abandoned by the father, who was a workaholic, the sensitive boy became overly involved with his mother and sister, and turned to a neighbor boy for love and acceptance. His friend had also been abandoned emotionally and physically by his father. This was the brother the boy always wanted, someone who was a (narcissistic) reflection of himself and who reciprocated. Their relationship eventually became sexual. The parents survived their son’s “coming out” by supporting his involvement with spiritual traditions not their own. They realized they had failed him. As the “good father” I heard all these confessions, which could be seen in dream language by the way he stripped down to his speedos for me. He became vulnerable and trusting as he shared his life history with me.
After the positive transference of the “honeymoon” time in a relationship, next comes the transference of the repressed negative feelings, the hurt and subsequent anger of not being seen and appreciated by the biological father, onto the surrogate father. In my lineage we call this projection. When this happened we both felt betrayed, hurt, and angry. I turned to the Native American Church ceremony and prayed with tobacco for healing of myself and those involved. My friend separated, distanced himself from me, and in doing so he was illustrating the power of the unconscious ancestral patterns. He acted in just the same way his father had done. The father rejected the son. The father introject (the internalized father matrix within the son) rejects the surrogate father, thus identifying with his father through his rejection. This is oddly paradoxical as the man is both father and son rejecting and being rejected at the same time.
But the dream is showing me something important, that the young man is retracing and hence remembering his steps, his choices, and the song they created before he disappears into an unseen body of water. The Raven thought this means he might be aware of his actions and is seeking to wash them off, similar to taking a dip in the River Jordan. The dreamer continues to be up in the tree so to speak, like the eagle in the VIP section, observing the action, no longer involved in the process.
Whether this younger version of me is an aspect of my inner adolescent or the real man out there in the world, it demonstrates how dreams can show us our Shadow. We have to travel with the repressed aspects of our personality, getting to know them better and hence knowing ourselves better. This we call doing the Shadow Work. It doesn’t matter which lineage we follow. What matters is that we do the Work, as it transforms us and all of those with whom we have relationship. It is important work and it has pitfalls, so it is always good to have an experienced guide, someone who has fallen in and pulled himself out again. We learn by doing. Some of us have to learn the hard way, others the easy way, often we slip off the spiritual path and are befriended by elders. I was, and I am glad those people, who are now ancestors, continue to help me from the other side.