Message from the Stone Clan
Those who have taken our shamanic training workshops over the last twenty years have become familiar, sooner or later, with the elemental spirits that are planetary in nature, as well as with the qualities and abilities that these transpersonal forces may convey to those of us if and when we come into relationship with them.
We are talking about the spiritual forces of fire, of water, of earth, of stone, of Nature, and of the air… rather than the spirits of helium, hydrogen, boron, and so forth on the elemental chart. We are not talking about the ‘higher’ spirits who work with the elementals such as the Brazilian oceanic goddess Yemanja who works with the spirit of salt water, the Yoruba ‘orisha’ Oshun who works with fresh water, or the Hawaiian volcano goddess Pele who works with the spirits of fire and with volcanic stone.
The elementals are quite different from the compassionate animal spirits or plant/tree spirits or the higher organizing intelligences such as Kuan Yin of the East or Aesclapios of Greece, or Jesus of Nazereth, for example, those who come into relationship with us to help alleviate suffering. The elementals are more ‘earthbound’ and are quite neutral, even distant in their relationship with human beings, yet being aware of them is quite important.
This is because the elemental spirits are immensely powerful and can be especially useful in facilitating transpersonal shamanic healing rituals on behalf of ourselves and others. Hence my lady Jill and I attempt to bring our workshop participants into relationship with them, as well as into relationship with the qualities that they may convey to us… and this is not a small thing.
Without divulging the nature of what we teach, as well as how we teach it, allow me to share that through my own investigations while utilizing the shamanic journeywork method, I have known for a long time that I am a member of the Stone Clan.
The Stone Clan
Many indigenous peoples know that we are born into particular groups or ‘clans’ in which an elemental force predominates. It’s somewhat like being born under a certain astrological sign, yet different.
It appears that we, like our indigenous precursors (and we all have tribal ancestors if we go back far enough) are members of one particular elemental clan—the fire clan, the water clan, the earth clan, etc. -–and we learn that these clans tend to embody qualities and abilities that the elemental spirit emanates into our core essence… and all the time.
Our soul essence includes the gifts we brought into this life to offer…. and our soul is simultaneously enhanced by specific elemental forces. It’s up to us to realize what they are and embrace them. Needless to say, becoming aware of these elemental qualities is essential to living a full and fruitful life, and this is especially true for those of us who are in service.
Those who have read the books in my Spiritwalker Trilogy are aware that I am the keeper, the honored caretaker, of a sacred stone from Hawai‘i that has a god living in it. I have always had a strong sense of connection with certain stones, even back into my childhood, so when this ‘great stone’ came into my life, I was prepared. It, or the god living within it, then took form as a major player in what would unfold in the Spiritwalker books. But those of you who have read them already know this.
I have since learned that Stone Clan people tend to be record keepers and story-tellers. They are fascinated with myths and traditions as well as with rituals and symbols. As an anthropologist, my workshop teachings are filled with stories—stories drawn from life, stories about our life purpose, about the gods, and stories about discovering and experiencing our genius.
In the process of sharing these stories, insights are activated in the minds of our students, and things then begin to happen. In response to these forces that come into play, each of us may experience and deepened understanding of who we are. We may in time contribute as well to the new cultural mythos coming into being.
So here is a story for you—a personal account that reveals something about the nature of our spirit teacher… and each one of us has one. This is the spirit being who loves us unconditionally, who works in mysterious ways, and the one who listens to our prayers. The episode that follows happened to me quite recently. And I must admit that I am still investigating the nature of this extraordinary relationship.
The Spirit Teacher
It has been my custom for more than 20 years to open each of our teaching workshop circles with ritual in which I use a Hopi gourd rattle with a nice dry whisper of sound to address the four sacred directions—east, south, west, and north. While I do this, I make short memory journeys into places in Nature (in the east, south, west and north) where I have connected with power in a strong way. Some of these localities go back to earlier into my life and even into my childhood. It’s one way in which I build up my connection with power before doing sacred work.
I might add that all the traditional societies with which I have lived use similar rituals, and I suspect my European tribal ancestors did the same. So reveals that this is not about cultural borrowing… but rather about cultural remembering.
As part of my ritual, I address the worlds above and the worlds below, the fifth and sixth directions… and here is where it gets interesting. In acknowledging the worlds below, I extend my conscious awareness to connect with the World Soul—with the great being whose physical body is our planet Earth. Her spirit enlivens our Earth, streaming her energy upward to empower all those elemental forces with the universal Life Force.
In my moments of vision, I perceive this force in the planet’s core as a star, as a green star, as the AEON Sophia who emerged from the Galactic core (the Pleroma) long ago according to the Gnostics, and who dreamed the dream of the Anthropos … us. The Greeks know her as Gaia and her myth reveals that she flowed out into the arms of chaos (the Kenoma) as a river of light and came into relationship with our star. In the process, she became a planet with soul.
In turning my focused concentration toward this star within our world, the green light streams upward and into me… and then, with my blood hissing in my ears, I turn my attention to the golden star above from which all of us are sourced—our Sun, at whose core all of the carbon in our bodies was forged.
I always do this as a way of honoring and connecting with these two god-like beings (in a mythic sense) that fill us and our world with the Life Force. In response, several years ago, a vision occurred. It happened while I was opening a workshop at the Esalen Institute on the Big Sur coast of California…
As my attention turned toward the golden radiance of our star and I rattled its power into our circle, my vision of the sun was suddenly disrupted as something emerged from its surface like a projectile and headed right for me.
As I continued to rattle and hold my focus, the projectile appeared to me as a bird, flying on golden wings, and then suddenly it was within me, inside me. As the contact was made, I was filled with the most amazing feeling. Perhaps the only word that can describe it is ‘grace.’ I was filled with grace… and I stood entranced as my whole body was imbued by it until even my fingertips glowed in response.
As that spirit bird came into me, I was aware in those moments that an aspect of the star had come to me and that it is still inside me. I also recognized as a scientist (logos knowing) that the star is the Creator of everything within its system… that the star we call the Sun is the Creator.
I am aware that this Presence is still within me and that it is not human, nor is it really a bird. Rather I believe that the Presence chose to symbolize itself as winged being in response to me… or maybe I chose to perceive it in that way.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York
In 2012, I was headed to the Omega Institute to teach several workshops. I arrived at the airport known as JFK in New York early in the morning. On getting to my hotel in midtown Manhattan, my room was not ready. So I stowed my baggage and set out for 5th Avenue on foot with my walking stick, to wander the streets of my childhood and get some exercise until the hotel was ready to accommodate me …
On final approach, there before me was the great cathedral of Saint Patrick fronting Fifth Avenue between 51st and 50th Streets. As I stood watching the endless herds of human traffic coursing this way and that, I decided to enter this sacrosanct building… a cathedral I had visited as a child on special occasions.
I wandered down the aisles in the dim interior observing the statues of this Christian saint and that, reading the stories about them as well. It was all male, male male… and I thought about the participants in my shamanic training workshops who are on average 70-80 % women.
In considering them, it comes to me that these women are medicine women and medicine women-in-becoming. They are leading the charge into the next cycle of ages… one in which the formation of the next religious complex is already coming into being… one that will eventually replace all our mainstream religions… one in which each person, male or female, has the ability to connect with their own inner priest, priestess, guru, teacher, or god-self, reaching into the sacred realms themselves to receive their revelations directly, from the highest sources without the need for any religious authority or belief system to do it for them.
Shamanic journeywork as I have said is an ancient, yet advanced form of meditation through which anyone can gain this access. I thought about this as I wandered up and into the very front of this great cathedral, dominated by masculine energy… and suddenly, there she was.
In this patriarchal Catholic religious stronghold, the white stone statue that dominates the front of this great church is an image of the goddess…to be correct, a statue of Mary, the ancient symbolic mother goddess of us all and of all life as well.
I sat down in a pew before her and assumed the state of deep meditation and gazed at her with soft focus. I was dimly aware of others who came to invoke her, to talk with her, to pray to her. I felt her warmth, her peace, her tranquility, and at some point, my awareness was drawn down to the long altar upon which her statue stands.
It is constructed of multicolored stone, including decorative mosaic, perhaps four or five feet high and twenty or more feet long, and suddenly I saw there in the flowing floral design an image of the sun, and from it was emerging the bird. I was stunned by this revelation, mirroring as it did my own vision of several weeks before. For long moments I let my awareness dwell on this image, and then, my attention returned to the goddess… until I slowly let her go.
As I left the great cathedral, my attention was drawn to a small gift shop on the church’s southern side and entering, I found myself confronted with an avalanche of symbols… of saints and prophets primarily, including many small religious medals that people could wear, attesting to their faith. Many were cheap and machine made; others were more expensive and hand crafted. And there among the latter I saw a thin lens of gold, about as big as a dime, on whose facing side was depicted an image of a bird, wings outspread, emerging from the sun.
For long moments, I studied this symbol, lost in wonder, then looking down, I picked up a small votive card on which the dove was depicted with radiance around it. Within I learned that it was and is the Catholic symbol of the Holy Spirit emerging from its source, God (the Sun) … and what symbol could possibly be more shamanic than this, I wondered? The card continued…(with my edits).
The Holy Spirit
“The Holy Spirit is one of the three aspects of the Trinity… one that does not have a physical manifestation but that dwells within us. Experienced as a comforter or a helper, it guides us toward the way of truth, joy, peace, patience, mindfulness, and love.”
I further learned that Jesus told his students “The Father (Oversoul God Self?) will give you a Paraclete to be with you always, the spirit of truth whom the world cannot accept since it neither sees it nor recognizes it.” This Paraclete “will instruct you in everything… and it will allow you to use your gifts to your highest ability. When we are open to this Spirit that dwells within us, we see the world more clearly and our choices and our decisions follow Spirit’s plan for our lives.”
I turned my attention once more to the golden medal and thought of the Bowl of Light that the Hawaiian elder Hale Makua had given us, a symbol of that gift from our God-Self that divided before we were born, sending in a seed of its light to live within us throughout our lives.
All three of our monotheist traditions agree that God breathes life into form. From the Hawaiian mystic perspective, this Life Force that took up residence within us when we drew our first breath, was sourced into us by our ‘Aumakua, our Higher God-Self or Oversoul, growing, increasing and becoming more in response to what we do and become in life. And at life’s end, it returns to its source when we release our last breath, allowing our Oversoul to grow, increase and become more in response revealing the co-creative relationship between spirit and form, between Heaven and Earth.
During life, the seed of light that resides within us is the connecting link to our Oversoul, the “Heavenly Being that serves as the source of our intuition, our inspiration, sending us dreams and visions and ideas in response to our perceived needs. In this way, our Holy Spirit Self communicates with us, providing us with comfort and information to help guide us through life.
As I studied the image of the Holy Messenger Bird and its Sun-Source in that revered church, I became aware that this presence is and will forever be, the immortal spirit teacher who serves as the messenger, as the conveyer of wisdom from the higher Source... who is, was, and forever will be the symbol of the Sun. And it is within each one of us, and all the time.