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
I'm not sure I just saw an albino dragonfly float directly past me, but I did. I just don't remember ever seeing one before, and I've seen many dragonflies of various colors, shapes, sizes, and wing patterns. Dragonflies are big with me. They've embossed letterhead and business cards for my practice. My house is full of them, in cloth, metal, china, stained glass, beadwork, you name it. People see I have dragonflies and give me more dragonflies.
Clients and friends call me up and say I visited them as a dragonfly, riding around crowded fairs on their baseball caps, or appearing in the desert where there aren't dragonflies because there's no water. As a shapeshifter, it's one of the things I guess I do.
So when dragonfly appears, such as on this beautiful fall afternoon after days of cold hard rain, I take it as a sign. When this white dragonfly appeared and disappeared just now... well, that's some big medicine. Dragonfly medicine. White Dragonfly Medicine. Whew. Let me explain.
Dragonflies are being studied scientifically because of their brains, their eyes, their wings, their having been on the earth for so long. They have powers that astound, and endurance that prevails. And yet they live most of their life under water, without wings, as larvae. Imagine being able to see all around you at the same time, and to instantaneously fly in any direction. They seem to dart in and out of visible reality because they don't have to travel in one direction or turn around. They don't think, 'Oh, wait, what was that over there? Am I going the wrong way?' They simply go, as their inner guidance system directs. I don't imagine they do much second guessing. I bet they don't keep mental lists of what they didn't do, where they didn't go, mistakes, and the like.
As a totem, they remind us that we create our own reality. Repeat after me, 'I create my own reality.' And we might as well get really good at it, and create lives that are fabulously us. This requires some alterations to the stuff that created our neural pathways and early adaptive strategies before we knew that much about what was going down. It's a people thing. Largely subconscious, pretty unavoidable, fairly resistant to change. But, with attention, intention, and practice, possible.
And boy howdy, that's exactly what I'm doing. And, if you're like me (and I know I am), sometimes during the process of creating a new chapter from scratch there are moments of such uncertainty it can seem impossible. And then dragonfly pops up, nonchalant, easygoing, just cruisin' on by, saying hey. You got this. I'm impossible, friend, but here I am.
Dragonfly has been a special power animal teacher since an orange and blue one came up to me by a wild river and gave me one of my early songs, when I was seventeen. But I've never seen an all white one until just now. In this present moment, I am doing some personal work akin to surgery, removing old blocks, burdens, and bindings that are acting like sea anchors. It's time to rise out of the water, grow wings and fly in any direction, and act natural. Okay! Let's do this.
Are you in transformation mode? Are you re-inventing yourself, changing old mental patterns, releasing entanglements, searching for what's next, your purpose, your lost energy, your creative zazzle? In journeys we fly through time and space without the encumbrance of time or space, effortlessly shifting direction with the energy. Sometimes this happens in dreams. And sometimes, with dragonfly's help, in ordinary reality.