While multicolored dragonflies and hummingbirds cruise the flowerbeds, or deep in the short nights, it's not unusual for me to find myself flying and bridging across time and space. One question that arises is: Who is traveling? Another way of asking is, which body is traveling? We have more than one.
Whether in dreaming or in magical moments in this world, you can feel when the energy body is active. It feels different: very alive, deeply connected, and altogether outside our rational mindset. Reality has new rules. We can't explain it.
One can do amazing things with the energy body, sometimes called the double. Developing the energy body through practices, awareness and intention is an ongoing endeavor, present multiculturally, and definitely part of shamanic practices. I've been newly focused on this work lately, as I delve deeper into my own abilities with some expert guidance, and also revise materials for an introductory group retreat on the subject. Working with my own levels of attention and intention is one area; creating words and dreaming practices for others to explore is another. Both are bringing me surprising insights on the identity constructs and personal coping strategies that keep connecting with our energy bodies – or anyone else for that matter – at arm's length.
The energy body operates beyond the confines of the attributions we place on ourselves and everyone around us in the everyday world. To activate and inhabit your energy body, you gotta drop a lot of stuff. Sweep your islands clean. As I prepare to instruct others in introductory practices, I bump up against my stuff on my islands like icebergs against the Titanic. How can I inspire trust, create safe, nurturing space for letting go, and convey the practices skillfully when I'm uptight about dropping my stuff too? Maybe partially by saying so at the get go.
Recognizing a fabulous opportunity for self-awareness and transformation, again with some pitch-perfect guidance, I get it: clearing the identity decks for greater connection can feel challenging, effacing, threatening. You want me to what? Let everything go and see what emerges? Open to being not what I thought I was at all, but something that requires me to abandon my formerly held notions of self? Merge with a tree until it speaks to me? Feel okey-dokey about lifting out of my physical body in broad daylight, or having everything around me disappear in a a golden light? Because you say it's cool?
When pressed, it is very natural for people to resort to coping strategies that are ingrained from past survival modes. Whether or not it really works for us now, we launch into our prescribed ways. I do it, you probably do it too; then we feel bad about it later. Why did I say that? Well, because we didn't know what else to do and were feeling, for whatever reason, a little pressed. Sweeping our islands clean means letting all that fall off the edge, and though we want to, it can leave us with a new problem. If that's gone: who am I?
This is where the rainbow comes in. The rainbow body is a complex subject I'm not really getting into very deeply here, but, like a rainbow, our energy bodies are here but not always visible. They are a most powerful aspect of our existence, and have therefore been poo-poohed as non-existent by many for a long time. Never mind that. If you're interested, you can develop yours. Your energy body bridges across time and space and feels wondrous to behold. It is your vehicle of light, there if you choose to develop it, to ride it.
The rainbow is a handy phenomena to use as a simile. Who are you when you drop all the coping mechanisms, early adaptive strategies, crusty identity constructs and quick defenses against the other and all the things you fear? You are present. Shining. Reflective. Beautiful. You're like a rainbow. In the world but not of it. Able to be here, and there and there. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Your energy body is impervious, traveling, shimmering. Might even be eternal. It may well be the body you can climb into and take off in when all else is finito. And meantime, with practice, you can develop it for a plethora of wonderful uses. If you're willing to sweep and see what happens. Guidance is important; the rest is up to you. Don't knock it till you've tried it.
I get that my task is to assist in creating safe space for this work, to own up to the dichotomy of self and other and the postures that pervade our reactions, to seek for the key that allows me to transfigure my stubborn bewilderment into helpful insight for others on the path, into compassionate understanding of our dual wishes for freedom and containment. Actually this is exactly what the energy body affords: freedom and containment. Like a rainbow.
ps: the Rolling Stones have a song...you might have heard
This is the first in a tri-weekly series on the power animals, totems, plant and elemental signals that show up each day as helpers in this middle world existence. A friend to the work suggested these could be of benefit to you, gentle reader, and I'm happy to write them. They happen every day, all around us.
Clouds: and I have to stop.
They are saying what's not found in books.
Those two lines, from a poem I wrote some years back, allude to my full-time job as a cloud augurer. I've been reading clouds forever it seems, and was delighted to discover it was a traditional thing for Celtic seers. The clouds capture my attention easily, put me in an altered state that Carlos Casteneda's Don Juan terms 'heightened awareness'. They really are saying what's not found in books.
For example, just now, sitting on the front porch with the morning coffee, sun streaming over my body, I had 'conversations' with several totems. First, a hummingbird flew right up to me, before either of us were aware. Oh! we both said. Good morning! That told me that there was harmony happening, and nature was opening to me in invitation if I opened to nature. Then, there were bees in front of me, and the clouds went all majestic. So I went into their state and attuned. They spoke of change, and the harmony of change. They spoke of the natural shifting of forms, and how they themselves, stupendous in form as they were at that moment, would soon transform into something completely different.
Then, a hawk cried out and flew in front of the beautiful, tall cloud directly in front of me. Hawks are messengers. The question to ask when one is called to by a hawk is, 'What is the message?" The hawk said, get ready! And flew into the blue.
I went inside to get the iPhone for a snap of the clouds, and the thistle said, 'don't forget me too!' This blessed thistle had insisted it be allowed to live when it sprouted outrageously right by the front steps some months back. Heard that, and so it was. What I didn't know was that its medicine, in flower essence form, is about giving and receiving. Bingo! A core subject I am working with during this same period. Roger that.
Think about it: it's an interesting way of showing giving and receiving, a thistle, right? It is an ancient, revered but also eradicated plant, with definite Scottish affiliation, that serves as medicine and food, with thorns that make it more than prickly to get near. Yet, when the bees and other insects are finished receiving pollen from its bright purple tufts, they dry and simply open from the crown. Then, the softest, lightest, most benign seeds simply float up out of the plant, giving themselves freely and abundantly wherever the slightest breeze takes them. Hmmm. Plenty to meditate on there. And I have been.
So, in the short time it's taken me to write this post, the weather has completely shifted and it is pouring with rain. It began instantaneously, before I'd even noticed that the distinctive cumulus clouds had given way to a solid gray cloudbank. The sun is gone, the temperature has dropped, the downspouts are rainsticks. I'm still tapping away on the porch, smelling the beautiful fragrance of rainfall. Don't know where the hummingbird, hawk, and bees are; perched somewhere out of the downpour I imagine. The thistle is enjoying a drink.
What totems are showing up in your world today? They are saying what's not found in books. Listen. And give back with your acknowledgments, your love and thanks. They are such a part of this beautiful world.