Tag Archive for: courage

“Humble Island of the Soul” from Gracious Wild

I opened my eyes, stretched in my sleeping bag, and looked around. After a few moments, I recognized where I was and realized that I still wasn’t. I still wasn’t much of anywhere or much of anyone.” (from Gracious Wild: A Shamanic Journey with Hawks)

These are the first three lines of a book that I wrote on a crisp fall morning seven years ago. These are the first three lines of a story I lived many mornings of my life what seems not so long ago. This is the broken world we all have such easy access to. How can the first thought we wake up with be so alienating, so painful, so grave? I still wake up with that same pit in my stomach some mornings. I don’t know if I’ll ever not know this feeling or if my memory will be cleansed of this kind of suffering. Just now, I’m soothing a pit from my stomach with a hot cup of chai tea.

My black cat Gretchen sits on my desk next to the keyboard purring. She wishes she could be in my lap pushing her full weight through her back into my belly, kneading my thighs, and forcefully jamming my arm off the keyboard, but she’s not. She reminds me of my commitment to embracing the void, to being courageous in the face of not knowing. There is no turning back now. Her overbearing presence makes that clear.

On the island, the fears were so tangible and immediate. I really was alone. Now the fears are like smoke that slips through my fingers. My vision is clouded and the air smells odd, but I am surrounded by people, civilization and the busyness of life. This morning as I prepare myself for another day, the day of the release of my book Gracious Wild, I go back to these first lines of the story for guidance. They help me remember the raw, sobering truth that we never really know who is out there and what is coming, that our minds can play fabulous tricks on us to make up fantastic fears, and the very best we can do is get brave, really brave. In being brave I learn over and over again that we are both inconsequential to the course of the universe and of utmost importance. The ego cannot grasp this truth, but the humble soul can. Imagining myself alone on an island brings me back to my fear, but also to my humble soul.

Today I pulled a beautiful card from the deck “Osho Zen Tarot” named “Creativity.” I’d like to share a quote:

Whatsoever you do, if you do it joyfully, if you do it lovingly, if your act of doing is not purely economical, then it is creative. If you have something growing out of it within you, if it gives you growth, it is spiritual, it is creative, it is divine… The important thing is to be open to what wants to be expressed through you. Remember that we don’t posses our creations; they do not belong to us. True creativity arises from a union with the divine, with the mystical and the unknowable. Then it is both a joy for the creator and a blessing to others.

May this book be a blessing to the world and to you the reader. May you find healing in the pages. May Graccia and Thalia and all who gave their lives to this story touch your heart. This is the blessing I offer to you and the service I am in to the creator.






Spirit Animals: MR. BADGER

He prefers only to leave his burrow when necessary. He would rather not encounter anyone besides his next meal when he’s out. His responses to inquiries from others are gruff. If he decides to respond at all.   He would prefer to go through the effort of adeptly and quickly digging a new hole than to face whomever has decided to pester him. Whoever does push too hard will find that he does have a backbone. When cornered Mr. Badger will not back down. He will fight fiercely and inflict serious damage. His companions are dirt, roots, and stones. He is fulfilled through his connection with the Earth. His solitude brings wisdom.

The consummate introvert, badger lives alone in a network of underground burrows. He will usually go out day or night to dig for his favorite meals of grubs, worms, and rodents. If he lives in a populated area he will change his schedule entirely to avoid humans and will become nocturnal. How many introverted people do you know that are the same way? Are you this way? The meaning of badger is to help you release the guilt associated with being a recluse and stand in your truth. Do you find you’re easily irritated at rush hour? It may be time to adjust your schedule.

Badger does have a few friends and can be seen cooperating with coyote to find rodents to eat and will associate with his own kind during mating season, but his friendships are pragmatic and he mostly keeps to himself. He has a lot of time with his claws in the Earth to make friends with the plants and minerals. For this reason, Mr. Badger is a great ally to help you understand the healing power of the Earth. People who keep jars of roots and piles of stones in their cupboards have badger medicine in their bones. Many people do this and do not understand what to do with all they’ve stored away in their dens. Badger spirit animal can help them sort this out while waiting out long winter storms.

Just because badger limits his contact with the outside world does not mean he’s not wise about it. Mr. Badger is actually an acute counselor because he is able to connect, without distractions, to his study. He can see and effectively dig below the surface of any situation without judgement. What he uncovers in the subconscious is sustenance for him and he is familiar with these things. He does not carry all the usual fear of the unknown below the surface that we do.

The term “to badger” comes from a terrible sport called badger-baiting wherein a dog is released into a badger den and is encouraged to attack the badger. When the two become locked together they are drug out by the dog’s tail and extricated from each other. The badger is placed back in the den and the fight is started all over. This goes on for many rounds. When we are feeling “badgered” somehow we feel the energy behind this scenario. We feel attacked in our sanctuary over and over again, all for sport. When asking yourself what does badger mean ask yourself if you have entered into this unhealthy cycle. Now is the time to recognize that you have the power to move on, create sanctuary and dig a new burrow away from this madness. The claws and strong will you possess cannot be won over by such shallow and cheap means.

The mask of the badger is in stark contrast to their course, mottled gray and tan coat. It is believed that badger got his name because his mask resembles a “badge” as in a coat of arms. This obviously speaks to the fighting ability of badger, but many hermits wear their solitude like a badge. Introspection can lead to great wisdom worthy of a badge of honor, but just remember that this medicine out of balance can lead one to become to a judgmental, gruff curmudgeon. The line between the two ways is as defined as the white streak splitting down badger’s head. Badger spirit animal can help you walk this line to come to a place of both enlightenment and kindness.

“There’s no security, or peace and tranquillity, except underground. And then, if your ideas get larger and you want to expand–why, a dig and a scrape, and there you are! If you feel your house is a bit too big, you stop up a hole or two, and there you are again! No builders, no tradesmen, no remarks passed on you by fellows looking over your wall, and, above all, no weather. Look at Rat, now. A couple of feet of flood water, and he’s got to move into hired lodgings; uncomfortable, inconveniently situated, and horribly expensive. Take Toad. I say nothing against Toad Hall; quite the best house in these parts, as a house. But supposing a fire breaks out–where’s Toad? … No, up and out of doors is good enough to roam about and get one’s living in; but underground to come back to at last–that’s my idea of home.” ― Spoken by Mr. Badger in Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows


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spider symbolism

Spirit Animals: MOTHER SPIDER

Spider Symbolism

Spider spirit animal tests the space in front of her by delicately lifting the front one of her eight legs. Her furry appendage tenderly caresses the air feeling the breath of the forest collectively and the movements of the creatures around her individually. The only thing that gives away her active, sentient thoughts is the small, almost nervous, twitching of the two feelers on either side of her mouth.

This is mother spider. She weaves webs, climbs trees, and digs burrows. But always, she ambushes her prey.

Spider Dream Meaning

Dreams about spiders can speak about where you may feel trapped in your life or where you are experiencing greater connection to all things. It depends on if you’ve found yourself in an overwhelming web of lies, opinions, or judgements or if you are in the space of owning your power and writing your own destiny.

Most people are afraid of spiders, so having dreams about spiders is a frightening experience. Take a look at what fears have come up for you lately. Spider spirit animal has crept into your unconscious to help ensnare the fears and bring them out into daylight. It’s time to stop blindly running into traps and instead weave the life you envision for yourself.

You are not a victim here. You have the power to navigate your way down the strands that will unlock an unlimited number of options for you. Like spider spirit animal at the middle of the web, you have the potential to go any way you choose. Getting those fears out of the way is the key.


Find your spirit animal workshop. Painting of red-tailed hawk.


Help Overcoming Fears

Spider symbolism is powerful and the presence of mother spider in your life is not to be taken lightly. She has come to help you work with your fears. Ask spider totem animal to help you muster the courage to look at the fears that are behind the negative, critical thoughts of yourself and others.

Often when we get critical it is because we are trying to protect ourselves from something we are afraid of. It’s as simple as the arachnophobic person saying, “I hate spiders”…. the truth is “I fear spiders”.

Allow all the little fears to pour out of you into your journal. It is these fears that are preventing the creativity in your life, not the judgments of others. You’ll find that spider spirit animal will come to collect all the little eggs of fear and transmute the energy into creativity, hatching dozens of creative helpers in your life that can help you spin beautiful webs.

Weaving a Written Web

It is said that spider created the alphabet and is the mother of the written word. There is no better companion to welcome to your home to help you wield your words on paper. What more is a story than the creation of a new reality?

In spinning a web, spider literally weaves a new plane of existence, an entirely new world. This world can be flat, round, linear or circular. It all depends on what species of spider you are watching. Each has their own unique weaving style. What is the signature of the species you watch now? What does this mean about the paths you have available?

The spider has eight legs, so spider symbolism is associated with infinity like the number 8. Imagine you now stand at the center of a web of possibilities with an unnumbered variety of paths to follow. Which is yours?

Spider meaning is strongly tied to the networker archetype who expertly crafts webs of interconnectivity.

Burrowing Spider Symbolism

If you find yourself face-to-face with a non-spinning spider such as a wolf spider or tarantula you’ll be examining a different aspect. Rather than hanging suspended by a thread and opening up to possibilities, what is needed now is to burrow into the unconscious.

These spiders dig burrows in the Earth and wait patiently for their next meal to pass by. Go inside yourself. Snuggle into the smell of the soil, know who you are and be grounded in that. Here you are safe to confront your fears. Here spider spirit animal will find you and use the effective poison in her bite to transmute those fears into true power.

All you need will pass by the door of your tunnel. Turn inward, be brave, and trust that you are safe. There is no better companion to have accompany you on any forays into the unconscious to uncover the meaning behind WHY you do the things you do.

Spider spiritual meaning is about being incredibly sensitive to vibrations and sensing things you hadn’t felt before. Spider spirit animal can help you navigate the darkness and the fears and view them from a new, less threatening perspective.

World Travelers

Spider symbolism is about about the journey. Spiders are known to fly for hundreds of miles, even across open oceans, by casting out a strand of web and allowing the wind to take them thousands of feet aloft. This is know as “ballooning”. They have absolutely no control over where their journey will take them or how far they will go. They could go 20 feet or 20,000 feet.

Think about the amount of trust it takes to cast that strand and not know. Let go of control. Face the fears that cause you to try and be in control. Know that there is no such thing as control. Ask spider spirit animal to help you see that you are already on this unknown journey. Anything else is just an illusion.

I love this excerpt from David Abram’s book The Spell of the Sensuous about spiders:
It was from them that I first learned of the intelligence that lurks in nonhuman nature, the ability that an alien form of sentience has to echo one’s own, to instill a reverberation in oneself that temporarily shatters habitual ways of seeing and feeling, leaving one open to a world all alive, awake, and aware. It was from such small beings that my senses first learned of the countless worlds within worlds that spin in the depths of this world that we commonly inhabit.


Find your spirit animal workshop. Painting of red-tailed hawk.



Projecting Emotions Shamanic Healing

Where Do We Project?

Judgements and projections show up frequently in our experience as humans, but there is a pattern of places they more frequently surface. Judgements occur most commonly around or about where there is an inequality of authority. The very first place we experience them is in the parent-child relationship. Here the parent has the power and the child struggles to exert their own. The parent can obviously be despised by their child when setting a rule, and the child can be resented by the parent for disobeying their requests.

One of my teachers saw most relationships we experience in adulthood as a continuation of the parent-child bond. She was extremely talented in finding the ways in which we can project our frustration or issues with our parents onto other relationships in our lives. She really felt this way when it came to the employee-boss association. In my work with her, she identified so many instances of me projecting my parents on her that eventually I had to walk away. It was too much and began to repel me from my current, adult bond with my parents.

Then came life’s test or, actually, two tests. I had a succession of two terrible bosses. Since I had walked away from the Freudian world view of my teacher, I gave myself free reign to project on to these people that were making my life and my co-workers lives miserable. It felt good to act out, spread gossip and generally hate these bosses. I loved that after the vigorous, over-examination of everything I did to have a place where I was free to be stinking mad.

To give myself credit I was not nasty full-time. I spend too much time in my own unconscious to stay well and be mean, but I allowed myself more license than my conscience would typically allow. It was liberating to not have to be polite all the time and, rather than being a victim as I had been previously, I was an empowered rebel. It turned out that I had to learn the Herculean task of sending love rather than hate to the first boss before that relationship could end and, as for the second, that ended as a result of me finding that my dream and reality no longer met in that position.

Fast forward a couple of years and now I find myself in an interesting situation. I adore who I work for and I am now in a position of authority subject to the unconscious projections of others. And, wow, did I take those on! I felt and heard all of their judgements and gossip coming my way. When my friends would criticize their own bosses I would feel that too. I hit a state of over-empathy with people in positions of power and out of my guilt for what I had done to my previous managers I let a most of it stick. Luckily, I have friends who know how to do extraction and I was able to clear the projections out of my field and start again with a clean slate.

So, what now? Having been on both sides of the coin in recent history I realize that I have a new paradigm in which to frame these relationships. This has little to do with our parents because they become just another place to project. Instead, it has everything to do with us. When we project onto others it is our unconscious pointing to what we need to shift. If we are mad about our bosses shutting us down we should be looking at where we are afraid to speak up and how to gain the courage to do so. If we feel like they are making our lives miserable it’s time to look at how we need to shift our perspective so we can be happy. Sometimes this means leaving the job and other times it means taking responsibility for our own experience. In the end, it’s up to us to decide.

(In this Photo: Like this drake mallard duck that decided to nap on my frozen pond this week, it’s important to remember that there is a time for self-reflection about where we project and a time to rest on a frozen reflection of who we are and just accept who is.)