Lost in translation: communications from spirit
Walking the shamanic path often challenges us to be receptive to messages from the beyond.
For millennia, people have embarked on spiritual journeys or pilgrimages to receive communications from higher consciousness. In Central and South America, this is often done through Temazcal, Ayahuasca and Huachuma ceremonies, while in the Northern Native American traditions, examples include the sun dance, vision quest, tipi peyote ceremony and inipi sweat lodge. Historically, the healers and lineage holders of these different traditions were responsible for understanding Spirit communications and subsequently translating them to specific circumstances – or to an intended recipient.
While understanding the messages of the Great Spirit for oneself is possible and is something to strive for, it takes quite a bit of experience. It also requires the sober guidance and perspective of people who have gone further on the path of self-realization.
A Little Story:
Recently, a friend contacted me with an urgent life-changing transmission received in an Ayahuasca ceremony, in which she was guided by practitioners I am not familiar with. Her vision depicted all of the population on our planet being obliterated within a 5 year period, with guidance that she should stop wasting time on mundane superficialities and focus only on spiritual awakening. The facilitators of that ceremony did not really seem to care what she did with that message, or her emotional state in connection to it, and encouraged her to take it literally as a sort of a bucket list from Mother Nature. In response to this experience, she decided to completely abandon her life in society, her work (which is based on a spiritual path), and her family. She intended to sell everything she owned, move off the grid, and disconnect from the world completely.
Now, when she informed me of all of those drastic changes in her life, I urged her to take some time and really listen to her intuition without being driven by her emotions – especially the fear- based ones. Experience shows how we often regret decisions made out of anger or fear, and how the objective perspective can be clouded by an overwhelming emotional state.
In the Ashuar tribal tradition, for example, the communication with the Spirit is very closely associated with the Dream language. The dreams first and foremost relate to one’s own being and only afterwards to the rest of the world. Furthermore, only the elders and experienced healers who have worked through their personal issues are considered to be trusted with collective visions that may relate to the rest of the tribe, or the global population in general. Seeing apocalyptic visions or dreams within that tradition, as well as in Jungian psychology, more often than not actually refers to the death and rebirth of one’s own ego – or an end to a specific behavioral cycle in life. Within those traditions, it is advised to apply the messages and visions to a specific state of being rather than a state of doing. In this way, it is possible to bring spiritual insights into the most mundane superficiality and make life meaningful no matter where one is, rather than escaping from a certain developmental challenge.
There is nothing wrong with an occasional retreat in order to renew, and receive a more objective perspective into one’s life – it can actually be very beneficial. There is also nothing wrong with moving off the grid. However, these type of life-altering decisions involving the very basis of one’s existence should be weighed during more prolonged periods of time and considered carefully so that one does not regret them soon afterward. I have also found that true transformation, personal growth, and evolution do not come as a quick burst, but rather as gradual and grounded changes, which require sustained conscious effort.
In this case, my friend was relieved after deciding to listen to the feedback. She took some time to observe the dreaming realm and see if there were any subsequent messages that came to her. After some time, she realized that the message had a deep symbolic meaning and was meant to be taken more lightly in order to focus on a greater level of love, trust and compassion for herself and others – instead of fear, paranoia and conspiracy theories. Focusing on the latter actually would have defeated the whole purpose of the message.
In fact, she was able to recognize that the apocalyptic visions were part of a purification process where a lot of past anxiety and fear-based mentality was being released from her being. A good amount of processing on her part and the sharing of similar cases in my own life was necessary for this particular crisis to resolve itself.
This is but an illustration of the complexities I often encounter in this work where the communication received is not always interpreted in the most objective way possible. Unfortunately, many shamans and healers of the new generation overemphasize the importance of singing pretty songs during the ceremonies. While this is great, for the wise teachers in my life, truly understanding the evolutionary process of consciousness and the human psyche is actually more essential than anything else.
Supporting people to grasp the most objective understanding of the messages received can make all the difference in the world.
A Rule of Thumb:
If an interpretation of any experience is leading you into a state of fear and panic, this is definitely a red flag. In addition, it’s also good to keep an eye out for any messages that are inflating the ego, or making one feel to be very self important. Only life challenges experienced through time will show how enlightened you really are. In many indigenous traditions as well as Transpersonal Psychology, the language of the Great Spirit or Higher self is always meant to help guide oneself into deeper states of essential humanity. The essence of this state is presence, compassion, discerning wisdom, wholeness, and peace.
At our Ando-Amazonian retreat center, Paititi Institute, we have found that the Shamanic Transpersonal Dreamwork practices we work with (an integration of Ashuar tribal and Jungian approaches) are an essential element that helps us to understand the language of Mother Nature in ceremony and transformational work. This practice allows for each individual to navigate very subtle realms. In fact, some of the most profound and positive breakthroughs and realizations we have witnessed have taken place with the help of this practice.