Friday, July 1, 2011

Portals of Transformation

In our first weeks back in Sedona, Meredith and I drove to Portales, New Mexico to facilitate two days of training for a group of students and practitioners at Eastern New Mexico University.  MSR has already blogged about the significance of the name of that small city on the edge of the prairie, but I can’t fail to echo that observation.

The word portales is Spanish for “doors”, and I am struck by how that symbol shows up at this time for the beautiful travelers who took this journey with us, for my dear friends Penny and Carol, and for myself and my partner who are diving headlong into this new venture and roll as teacher and guide.  We are stepping through portals; doors of transformation as we move into new ways of being with ourselves and others; new ways of thinking and new ways of relating to each other, to the planet and to all of existence.

My teacher, Star Wolf, talks often about the usefulness of seeing our movement through existence as a Spiral Dance.  We are not on a linear path.  We are on a circle, the great medicine wheel, but we are also spiraling; coming back over and over to the same places but we are changed, engaging on higher levels. 

I am mindful of so many of my own points repeating at this time, and I am grateful for the grace of encountering these mile markers with new insights.  I first moved to Northern Arizona in the mid 1980’s and just about the first person I met in Flagstaff was my enduring friend, Penny. 

On our first encounter, I sat in her small apartment and told her about my time with the Lakota medicine man some years earlier.  We could have talked about any number of more relevant topics but something compelled me to relate this most intimate piece of my own spiritual journey.  The following spring, the two of us drove down to Sedona on Easter Sunday to hike into Boynton Canyon to have a chanumpa (pipe) ceremony.

At one point we both had our eyes closed, deep in meditation, and I heard a clear voice from higher in the canyon yell, “I am God.”  The voice repeated a few more times and we finished our quietness.  As we walked out, I looked at Penny and said, “Did you hear that?”  We each had a good laugh when we saw the young couple who had hiked in ahead of us.  And though our ceremony was more humble, we could identify with the enthusiasm of the seeker who finds a piece of the divine within himself and just can’t keep still about it.

Over the next twenty years I wandered away from my practice in the shamanic tradition, but those enduring forms stayed with me, and I celebrated their blossoming when I returned to Sedona almost two years ago. 

And on this trip around the spiral I have revisited my childhood and some early woundings I have stuffed down and repressed all my adult life.  But I do not wallow in self-pity or victimhood by bringing my wounded children into the light.  I have not suddenly remembered some forgotten or imagined trauma, I am talking about some little snapshots of my childhood that I have minimized or trivialized or covered over with rationalization or humor.

I have come to see that my shadow is not just one “dirty smelly child” but a crowd of small children who follow me around every day.  And as I come to make peace with them, to honor and to love them, they no longer need to dominate my thoughts and behaviors.  Instead they inform me and keep me company without keeping me from the peace and happiness that is my birthright.

We are all stepping through Portals of Transformation as our lives and our bodies are bombarded and caressed by new moons and eclipses and planets.  Standing still is not an option, so we pass through willingly facing the full strength of the sun in this summer season.