I’ve been playing with clay lately. I’m too impatient to be a perfectionist with it, but I enjoy it for fun. I do prefer to make my own witchy and shamanic tools, or just “discover” things around the house that I can use. I needed an herb jar, so I made one out of clay. I have a tendency towards simplicity, though I do adore collecting tools, rituals, and so forth. I was recently told by a spirit guide to cleanse and bless my sacred space simply by banging sticks together, what could be more easy? Yet it works perfectly for me.
Lately I have not been feeling as inspired as I’d like to feel, so I have been journeying and trying to help myself out of this grey space. What I’ve learned from my spirit guides is not a quick fix, but wisdom worth sharing.
The first thing one needs in order to be inspired is desire. The bird that flies must want to fly; if one wants nothing, there is no flight. If you don’t know what you want, this is the first thing you need to address.
The second thing one needs to consider is, what am I willing to do to get what I want? Are you willing to be happy if you want happiness? Are you willing to work for it? Are you willing to do everything you can? If you find yourself somewhat reluctant, you have to figure out why. If you really really want something, you should be willing to do the work to get it.
The third consideration is a difficult but obvious one: patience. We want change, but we are shaped like sandstone in the wind. It’s going to take time. Moreover, we need to be open to change. We need to embrace the wind, especially when it is abrasive. Ideally, we need to develop a relationship with the spirit of change. Shamanically speaking, this could be done through prayer and journeying, but you can honour the spirit of change however you want to.
Lastly, don’t forget gratitude. This is an oft-repeated lesson, but for me, one easily overlooked. I have so much to be grateful for, and it is only when I remember these things that the clouds in my spirit begin to lift. Our prayers must contain at least the seed of gratitude, or else nothing will grow from our intentions.
With these things in mind, I am taking the day to change my attitude a little, and let inspiration flow.
I believe what we call magic is no different than everyday and mundane experience, except that it is unexpected. With the help of society, we have built up an expectation of reality. We expect a pretty boring existence — magic simply fails to meet those expectations.
When we’re not feeling inspired, we might desperately try to connect with the unexpected and find it stays silent, aloof. It is the nature of magic to be so sly. We can only see the magic when we are expecting not to see it.
Never kill your magic with expectations, but treat it like the gift it is. You can find the magic in everyday life, but most often magic finds you.
So when you’re really searching for inspiration, try changing tactics a little. Take your society-born expectations and live with them. Live in a world where only humans are supposed to speak, where thoughts are supposed to be passive and powerless. Then ask yourself, what is here with me that does not fit with these expectations? Maybe you will find that magic is everywhere — in the subtle glance from your cat that you’re sure was a message; in the way a tree just now began to shiver; in the strange otherworldliness you feel when you look at a stone.
And if you think that magic is still silent, still aloof, try to respect this. Wait patiently and keep your eyes open without demanding to see. Magic will take you by surprise.
Made from a real turtle shell, with duck feathers.
“Everything as it moves now and then, here and there, makes stops. A bird as it flies stops in one place to make its nest and in another place to rest from its flight. A man when he goes forth stops when he wills. So the god has stopped. The sun, which is so bright and beautiful is one place where he has stopped. The moon, the stars, the wind he has been with. The trees, the animals, are all where he has stopped, and the Indian thinks of these places and sends his prayers to reach where the god has stopped and to win health and blessing.”
-a Dakota chief, quoted in John Grim’s The Shaman
More and more people are discovering shamanic journeying as a tool for healing and direct revelation. It is an ancient practice that is relevant to everyone everywhere. The internet provides a wealth of information on journeying to get you started and I don’t want to re-tred that ground. I do, however, want to share a few thoughts that may be useful or at least interesting for those who are learning to journey.
When I first began to journey, I wanted most of all for it to feel real. I wanted to feel like a disembodied spirit flying through new worlds. I wanted it to be spontaneous. I even wanted it to be beyond my control, like a dream-vision, because that would mean I wasn’t “making it up.”
I didn’t get very far in those early journeys, and I’ve since changed my stance. Now I think my spirit doesn’t need to physically travel at all — the spirit doesn’t need to do anything physical! Spirit does spirit things, so I have stopped wanting to physically feel anything as evidence of its reality. I also believe that imagination is more “real” than we can imagine. In short, and perhaps I will expand on this later, I believe that imagination is a direct sense of potential. I also believe that everything happens (and has already happened). By everything I mean everything. We don’t physically access the other worlds or dimensions which the Everything inhabits; we access a particular subset of the Everything. But to get to my point, since everything happens and since imagination is a sense of potential, imagination is actually a sense of reality — a very real and substantial reality.
So I have given myself permission to imagine. I imagine the journey; at least part of the journey does come from me. And that’s okay; what matters anyway is the message or information I take away from the journey. This comes from the spirits and it’s often easy for me to have faith that it does not come from me. Things do happen spontaneously and truths seem to call out from nowhere. This is the action of the spirit world, and now that I’m not trying to force spontaneity, I can open myself to experience it.