Initiated Into Darkness: My Path Into Shamanism

TRIGGER WARNING! IF YOU’RE HIGHLY SENSITIVE OR MINDFUL ABOUT SUBJECT MATTER PERTAINING TO TRAUMA, ABUSE, VIOLENCE, THIS ARTICLE OFFERS COVETED DETAILS ABOUT SUCH EXPERIENCES. WHILE THERE IS A SPECIFIC CONTEXT AND CERTAIN DETAILS HAVE BEEN CAREFULLY WOVEN IN TO ILLUSTRATE THE PREMISE, IT MAY BE NECESSARY FOR YOU TO REFRAIN FROM READING OR TO PARTAKE WHEN YOU HAVE PREPARED TO RECEIVE THIS INFORMATION.


There are a hand-full of questions that I am routinely asked when people learn that I am a shamanic practitioner. The one that can be the most difficult to answer succinctly is how I got on this path in the first place. When I answer by stating that I was initiated in childhood I get a myriad of reactions. For shamans in contemporary cultures it can be difficult to identify the single moment of shamanic initiation. Many people don’t fully understand initiation to begin with, and the process in non-shamanic cultures can be convoluted and difficult to distinguish from circumstantial life experiences. This is what being involved with the School of Modern Soul Science has given me- a shamanic lens to view my (extraordinary) life experiences, a structure for my unique shamanic expression, and a road map that helped me see the evolution from initiate into practitioner.

People who don’t understand the depth and scope of initiation often view the path of shamanism only in terms of technique- that moment when a person began to study the techniques of shamanic practice, or began mentoring under an elder shaman. But shamanic initiation has almost always occurred long before this moment, and is what led the person to begin studying the technique with more intention. Being a shaman is far less about self-identification and the title of such, and is really about direct experience and the impulse to serve in a helping role. So in this context being initiated in childhood shouldn’t be shocking or unusual really. And it equally shouldn’t be thought haughty to make such a claim. Most shamans will tell you- it’s not a path to aspire to or one to wish on anyone. Being initiated in childhood doesn’t make me superior. It just means the path has been really, really hard for longer.

I am circling in the Three Year Advanced Shamanic Initiation program through the Foundation for Shamanic Studies. I am half-way through that program as of this writing. The work we do at the Foundation is always predicated on “helping Spirits.” The shaman must develop relationships with benevolent Spirits who want to aid in the intention to decrease pain and suffering on Earth. But one of the things we rarely talk about at FSS is malevolent Spirits. Yet the majority of people who seek my help present with beliefs they are being tormented by malevolent Spirits. This is not unfamiliar territory for me, and having just reached the half-way mark in the FSS program, I am feeling particularly compelled to talk about my first shamanic initiation and how it’s shaped my understanding and practice.

I was younger than three years of age when the abuse started. This is not something I have talked much about simply because it doesn’t make good conversation and there’s not many opportunities to share such things appropriately. It was really only about three years ago that I publicly revealed some of the abuse I suffered, and that was only because the context invited that type of sharing. But I don’t want to get bogged down in that, because that itself was not the initiation. The details of who did what to my small child self is just an aspect of life experience. But the spiritual state of my perpetrators and how I connected to that was the impetus for my shamanic initiation, which was an absolute initiation into darkness.

I was not yet 4 years old when my mother re-married a man who’s last name was Wolfe- likely not mere irony. Despite my mother’s usual independent and tenacious personality she fell under his spell and in total we spent nearly five years of our lives under his violence. He perpetrated unspeakable things on me, on my mother. Very disturbing things. If you’ve ever read A Child Called It then you can get an idea of my relative use of the word ‘disturbing.’ But my awareness of the forces behind all that malevolence intensified as a laboring woman progresses on until birth. It started very early on when we were having some sort of catered party in the backyard of the home my mother and father had bought together. The mayor of the city was there and many other influential people, so I assume it was some sort of opportunity to rub elbows, or raise money- my child self was only aware that important and influential people were present and I was on show, expected to behave a certain way. My new step-father was in mid-conversation when he suddenly became completely catatonic- standing upright there on the sidewalk, frozen and unblinking. Not responding to any external stimuli, EMT was called and he was whisked away by ambulance. I remember being so frightened that I crawled under a table, hidden by a long tablecloth, and stayed there until long after guests had left and my mother found me and coaxed me out. My mother later told me that it was while my step-father was in the hospital that he was diagnosed with Catatonic Schizophrenia. He had several similar incidents after that, which slowly began to give way to more disturbing incidents.

One such incident occurred well into the dark hours. Many of the more disturbing events occurred at night. This particular night I woke to hear my mom crying, a certain panic in her tonation that told me it wasn’t just a moment of passing sadness. I laid in bed, as I did many nights during those years we spent with that man, absolutely terrified. I was in a frozen state of fear, nearly catatonic myself, sheets pulled up to my chin, body stiff as a board, and always as close to the middle of the bed as I could get so I increased my chances of being out of the monster’s reach. But hearing my mom motivated me to muster the courage to get out of bed and confront the situation, even knowing I was small and powerless to do much about it. I certainly couldn’t stop him from his violent and unforgiving perpetrations of me. But I couldn’t stand to lay there frozen and doing nothing. The fear of not knowing, of not seeing, of being stuck in my own imagining was worse. Because of his constant threats to kill my mother as he was perpetrating my child body, I lived in a perpetual state of fear for my mother and felt an overwhelming protectiveness over her. I knew he was quite capable of carrying out his threats- I watched him intentionally kill a beloved pet with his bare hands. So not sure if her cries were indication she had been harmed, I peeled my frozen body out of the bed, quickly passed by the black hole the bathroom had become, and eased into her bedroom with trepidation. A soft bedside lamp was the only light in the room. The air was dense, heavy. Mom was sitting on the floor, clutching his arm, confused and distraught. I saw him sitting on the edge of the bed, his body hunched over, his neck contorted in an abnormal, nearly non-human positioning. His eyes were rolled up, only the whites showing. He had foamy saliva smacking in between his lips as he was uttering, mumbling really, incoherent words. It sounded like a foreign language to me, one I was unfamiliar with. Because the words had an intention, a felt meaning, it wasn’t just gibberish. Mumbled, or perhaps strained through this bizarre and altered state of consciousness, but defined sounds that carried a certain quality that told me he was actually saying or trying to say something I just couldn’t understand. Looking back with decades of adult experience, by psychiatric standards this scenario could likely be identified as some type of psychogenic seizure. But as a very young child enduring horrific abuses this looked and felt ominous, malevolent, like some sort of demonic Spirit had taken over my step-father’s body and mind. Why my mother didn’t call an ambulance that night, I don’t know. I suspect she saw little reason to, as his increasingly bizarre behaviors seemed to be attributed to psychiatric disorders. These are things I would never find answers to this side of the veil, as my mother had blocked out nearly all memory of our time with that man. She didn’t recall even having married him (the actual marriage ceremony). It didn’t help that all photo evidence of him was gone. It wasn’t until years after my grandfather died that I was able to find a photo my grandfather had kept in a file of mounting evidence against my step-father. My grandparents had hired a private investigator to help paint a clearer picture of who this man was and why he so consumed my mother’s and my life and so effectively isolated us, turning my mother against her parents.

In between all of this perversion, violence, and unusual episodic and seemingly random change in consciousness there was increasing paranormal activity occurring in the home. We had long moved out of the older two story home where the first incident of catatonia happened, and were living in a newer one story condominium. Mom had a cross (a crucifix) on the wall, facing her bed. Dozens of times that cross would come off it’s nail, crashing down to the floor. We would come home to find it on the ground, or would hear it fall from another room. On one occasion I was in the room and watched it literally pop off the wall and fall to the floor. It was such a regular occurrence that it became expected. The adjacent wall had a large sliding glass door that led to a small enclosed patio. The large glass door was covered by sheer curtains. Numerous times I witnessed those curtains catch wind and flutter or become puffed up, but I was unable to identify any logical explanation. Even as a young child I understood the basic dynamics of things. I looked for an air vent, felt around the frame of the door for a draft. Nothing could explain this in a way that made sense to me.

And then there was my mother. If there was some sort of logical explanation that my child brain was unable to see or process, it didn’t help that my mother continuously identified these shared experiences as “her ghost.” She even had a name for him- John. Interestingly that was my grandfather’s name as well, and he was very much alive during those years, even though my mother intentionally denied contact with her parents for the entirety of the years we spent with that man. Mom was very descriptive to me about her encounters with this shadowy Spirit named John who would appear to her at the foot of her bed. While I only caught glimpse of an apparition in my peripheral view once in that condominium, mom claimed to have regular encounters and believed John was some sort of guardian, or protector. So it was this heightened awareness of the Spirit realm and our ability to interact with it, witness the effects of it, coupled with the bizarre physical manifestations of my step-father and his brutal and malevolent behaviors towards my mother and me that opened my understanding and relationship with evil, with demons, with Spirits. While I can look back and explain away nearly all of the physical signs I experienced as childhood imagination, naivety, or misunderstanding, to this day I remain convinced that my step-father was demon possessed. I saw it in his eyes. I felt it. And I knew it wanted me dead.

I believe it was 1979, Easter Sunday, when yet another argument broke out. This one was exceptionally long, as mom was not backing down. She had spent a good part of the day cooking. She sent me to bed, which I believe she often did to keep me out of harm’s way. That never really protected me though. With all the yelling and crashing going on in the home (glass breaking, etc.), all I could do was lay there frozen in fear. Darkness was quickly overtaking when I thought I heard the front door and saw shadow figures pass by through my curtains. Thinking something was very wrong- either they were both leaving, or mom was leaving me behind, or worse, he was leaving and left her seriously harmed, I again mustered the courage to peel my stiff with fear child body out of the bed. When I came out into the hall and slightly turned toward the brightly lit kitchen I saw him towering over her. He had her pushed up against the cabinets and was hitting her head with the butt-end of a loaded pistol. Her head was gashed open and bleeding. I knew the gun was loaded because I had seen him take that gun out before and shoot it towards the top of the high ceiling- the bullet holes haunting me for months. Again nearly petrified with fear and an overwhelming sense of helplessness, I forced sounds out of my throat. I may have said “stop”, or “don’t” or something to that affect. And I know I cried. I remember mom telling me to go back to bed, and I remember feeling torn in two at that moment. But my presence was diversion enough to make him stop his assault, and she was able to get away. She grabbed me, grabbed her car keys, and we were out the door in seconds, both of us shoeless. I don’t remember if she got medical attention of not, or how she got cleaned up really. She was bleeding when we left the house, and I do remember waiting in the car for her for what felt like forever as the fear kept me frozen to the seat. I know she drove straight to the police station, and we returned to the condo with police trailing behind. They told us to wait in our car as they went in, guns drawn. He was gone. The police invited us in to get some of our belongings. So enveloped in utter darkness my mother and I, by police escort, walked through the courtyard and entered back into that wickedly haunted place. We gathered some clothes. I was able to bring a couple of toys, but the majority of what we owned got left behind- including photos. We got back in the car and drove for hours. She wanted to not be found. We landed in this sleepy little high desert town, and stayed many nights in a motel there until mom could get a job and an apartment.

Our time in the desert gave way to another kind of initiation for me and I began to form a mystical connection to nature that equally has carried through into my shamanic expression. But that initial experience with the darkness in the Spirit realm was, like any solid initiation, just the beginning.

That step-father pursued me psychically for years after. I tried to return to a normal childlike state after that, but was never able to fully achieve it. Innocence was forever lost. Darkness had left it’s bloody handprint around my neck. And my psychic connection was like a downed powerline, whipping around in the wind. It was essential for survival in years prior, but having no consciousness around it, or how to turn it on or off, I had many moments when I would be caught up in the moment of just being a child and he would find me there. Like Danny in The Shining, I would freeze in terror, feeling so powerless and not knowing who to even tell about these inner experiences.

There were many events that happened after that. Singular incidents perpetrated by people in my life, or circumstances which had me in a place to be direct witness to. A lot of violence, a lot of death, a lot of suicide, drug addiction, and all the darkness that surrounds that. Not long after we got established in the desert a man tried to abduct me on my way to school. And then in 1983 the Ryen family was brutally murdered. I had gone to school with Jessica Ryen and knew her personally, and again I vividly recall the absolute terror knowing a killer was on the loose and it took weeks before an arrest was made.  So it just seemed to be a consistent pattern that I found myself in a world full of intent towards soul-crushing destruction.

It shouldn’t be surprising that by the time I was 13 years old I was involved with a 21 year old man. In 1988 we married- I was 15, he was 24. I guard details of specific incidents because they potentially serve to rouse malevolent Spirits, can cause secondary trauma, and hint at perceived triggers. I’ve already offered enough to illustrate the incredible trauma that can come from being initiated into darkness. Besides, a mage worth her salt will always guard close the treasure forged from the prima materia, lest another attempts to profane it and steal away her power. But suffice it to mention that this 9 year marriage was overshadowed by more of the same kinds of abuses I had suffered in early childhood, and some worse. And again, the spiritual overtones of those experiences were loud and clear. Some of the experiences I had in those 9 years were paranormal in ways I had not experienced prior and would not believe myself had I not had the direct experience. And other experiences were just obviously demonic. I learned first-hand what demons can do, how they can read our minds, know our darkest parts and try to trigger us, how they can effect the physical realm in tangible ways, how they can use the human vessel in profane ways, and push it to it’s capacities, how insidious and tricky they can be, and how insatiable their lust and perversions can be. I also learned how they can destroy a human being, in body, mind, and soul, and bring about utter chaos and confusion and even acute psychosis.

I brought forth three children in that 9 years, and the four of us barely escaped with our lives- it had really become that diabolical and dangerous for us. The wake of trauma left is still felt in my family and has carried on to the next generation. But out of that came the compulsion to write Family Abuse and the Bible, which was picked up for publication in 2000. More important for me personally, this phase of the initiatory process honed my discernment in ways that was necessary. While my earlier childhood experiences taught me how to rely on my psychic nature in keeping myself as safe as possible, these later experiences taught me how to refine that in a way that allowed me to discern between and among Spirits. Some of them are incredibly good at hiding or masquerading. So the high level of discernment required for the type of shamanic work I do is crucial, and there’s really only one way I’ve been able to develop that.

It’s easy to make the connection of abuse and trauma with heightened emotions and thus irrationality, and even easier to dismiss the spiritual components of those experiences as hyperbole. But I had multiple adults around me during this time of my first marriage who just caught glimpses of my experiences and who were equally convinced that something of an overt spiritual nature was occurring and the presence was diabolical and destructive. They could see and feel it in my home and even identify particular areas, objects, photographs that contained malevolent energies. Some of them experienced the demons directly. So that validation grounded me, as the non-sensical psychosis about sent me to the brink of psychosis myself. Reality can get challenged when the spiritual manifests in the material, and a certain warping occurs even in the mundane aspects of life. When you live in a constant state of adrenaline that eventually takes its’ toll as well. It’s a slow erosion of mind, of body, of spirit. And even of soul. Many, many people who’ve had these kinds of experiences have not made it through the darkness. Many have succumbed to addiction, suicide, sexual enslavement, or have been given over to become perpetrators themselves.

It was 1997 when that relationship ended. I was 24 years old. Those were not easy days. And although the intimacy of the experience with the darker Spirits hasn’t been matched since, I’ve certainly had many encounters with darkness along the way, both before and after that- way too many to offer here. I’ve often shared with people that I came out of the shoot being pursued by evil, and it really never let up. In some ways it’s drawn me in. Before I had to quit work because of metastatic cancer I was working full time as a forensic social worker. My caseload consisted of adults diagnosed with developmental disabilities who had been convicted of violent crimes- murder, rape, pedophilia, arson- and who had been let out of California’s developmental centers and placed in community settings. And while I knew since the time I was 11 years old that I wanted to be a psychologist or psychotherapist, when I started college (five years later) I had already honed that vision specifically into wanting to be a psychological profiler for the FBI. I had many books about the various serial killers under my belt, had read People of the Lie by M. Scott Peck, and of course, Hostage to the Devil by Malachi Martin. And Millennium was far preferred by me over the X-Files- I was working on my own college degrees at the time that was airing and a devout fan who didn’t miss an episode. All of that exposure beyond my direct experiences was my attempt to make sense of my experiences, to context them, to try to figure out what exactly that was and why it was so extraordinary.

Henry Fuseli, The Nightmare (1781)

And that is the thing with demonology- it requires almost an academic pursuit of the subject to understand all the religious and cultural underpinnings that serve as frames of reference for people. It’s no surprise then that a majority of people who seek my shamanic services present with claims of entity attachments. They are experiencing unwanted and malevolent interactions they perceive as occurring outside of themselves, as intrusions, non-organic to their sovereign soul state. Many of them have trauma history as well and by definition have also experienced an initiation into darkness. It isn’t always true that they have demonic attachments, but even suffering Spirits can wreak havoc on people’s lives. Being able to discern these things is essential. But it’s equally essential for me in my practice to lean into the world view of the person seeking my assistance and to practice in harmony with their beliefs about their experiences. Whether an individual calls their daemon an entity, a djinn, a rakshasa, a demon, a Spirit, a heavy energy, a mental health diagnosis- these things matter. And so in this path I am continuously learning. It’s not for me to tell others whether demons do or don’t exist. They already come with their direct experiences and the beliefs shaped by those experiences. I try to work within that, melding the work with my own knowledge and experience as someone who has extensive firsthand experience with the darkness.

The Rape of Proserpina (Italian: Ratto di Proserpina) is a large Baroque marble sculptural group by Italian artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini, executed between 1621 and 1622.

There is admittedly a danger for those initiated into darkness. Like Persephone who was drug into the underworld, raped by Hades, and then kept there only to emerge after being tricked into eating the seeds of a pomegranate, guaranteeing her return, we can become too exposed, too curious, too comfortable, and delve too deep or for too long. There have been many examples of individuals who lost themselves to the darkness. The Night Stalker, Richard Ramirez is one who comes to mind.

Many of the serial killers claimed to suffer from malevolent entities (Ted Bundy, David Berkowitz, John Wayne Gacy, etc.). And some people will be skeptical and believe that individuals use this claim as an excuse or defense to try to skirt accountability for their own free-will. I’m not here to convince anyone that demons exist or that evil originates from a different realm and perpetrates through humans. Truly my intention here is to share my own shamanic initiation, the first of many faceted initiations, and how that has affected my practice. But when people who have committed such inhumane atrocities as these serial killers have claim to have been tormented by demonic entities, I am a believer because I’ve stared into those soulless eyes and seen the depth of suffering there and felt the impulse that drives the insatiable need for more.

How Being Initiated Into Darkness Can Effect Shamanic Practice

Shashank Mishra, Kali-Ma

Shamanic work requires a direct relationship with helping Spirits. That relationship is no different than a human relationship. Each Spirit has its own personality, its own function, its own way of relating. And to be effective a shaman must not only learn how to negotiate, how to take and give slack in the power and control aspects of the relationship and the work, but also has to fully trust. It’s natural for anyone who’s had traumatic experiences to distrust. So while being initiated into darkness potentially prepares a shaman for a specific type of work, it also brings a gravity to the development of the shamanic alliance. For many who’ve tasted the reality of how gangster a place the Spirit realm can be, each Spirit must be carefully vetted. The development of the alliance may be slow and have its ups and downs. And some of these Spirits who are more archaic in their expressions can be quite scary, even in their benevolence. They’re fierce, they show their power. Some of them enjoy dismembering in extremely grotesque ways, or can be loud and obnoxious. Some of them are quite unruly and have poor boundaries. And so the process of building an alliance and working with all the personalities and unusual ways of expressing can be uncomfortable and even triggering for people who’ve been through a lot of trauma- and certainly for potential clients who’ve experienced trauma. Our Westernized non-shamanic culture doesn’t set us up to do this work in the usual archaic ways of shamanic expression. I’ve found myself joking a lot lately (well, off-colored shaman humor) about how terrifying it would be for a client if I showed up completely merged with one of my more boisterous Spirits and in full mask and regalia. I am very sensitive to that and have had to find another way to do the work, as my intention is not to create fear or trauma for people, or for myself for that matter. So a shaman is very much a guard or filter and the work must be translated into the culture and to the specific individual in a way that promotes the decrease of pain and suffering while buffering against contributing to it. Even seemingly benevolent people can channel malevolent energies. And the one initiated into darkness knows this first-hand. It’s the insidious nature of the darkness and how it lurks undetected in the shadows of the psyche, it’s impulse to command from behind, eroding away until it thrones itself in fullness in a human host. Wetiko, as it is called. We are the hands for the Spirit world. We are the mouth for the Spirit world. It is through us that the Spirits can be known, can materialize and have effect. And it’s when we are unconscious about the malevolent forces that we are in greatest danger of giving into their impulses and projecting them out onto others.

Discernment thus becomes a central aspect of this particular shamanic facet. We’re all a work in progress regardless of what path we’re on and what role we’re here to play. Discernment is a tricky thing really because it’s a judgement, a sorting, a labeling. And it runs a high risk of being tainted by projection. Healing from the wound is far more damaging than just leaving well enough alone. But I’ve long contended that the urban shaman, the shaman practicing in contemporary culture needs to have a level of integrity and personal development that exceeds what one would expect from an indigenous shaman in a relatively untouched tradition. When people are living harmonious with the land and with one another they are far less exposed to the darkness. Every culture will have some acknowledgement of it, some myths around it, and some process for dealing with it. But they likely have far less direct experience with it. While in post-industrialized cultures we’re exposed to it constantly and in positions to be influenced by it, and to also be conduits without ever knowing, if we’re not discerning and introspective in our own processing. So when one has been initiated into darkness and directly experienced abuse and trauma the process of developing discernment is often tangled up with those experiences. Therefore it’s much more imperative for the urban shaman to know thyself than it may be for indigenous, archaic shamans who live in completely different contexts than we are living in.

Another crucial aspect of working with Spirits and developing alliances is the formation of boundaries. Like in any relationship, boundaries with the Spirits help to serve as landmarks that separate where I begin and the Spirit ends. They help the shaman to know what is him and what is Spirit. This is imperative for tamping down projection, and knowing what is a bona fide experience in the Spirit realm and what is an imaginal fantasy projected from the depths of psyche. And they set firm guidelines for the alliance. Even in general boundaries are so important. Being sensitive to Spirit I often have unsolicited contact with beings who have crossed over and are wanting to get messages through to their loved ones. I generally refuse to give those messages for a variety of reasons. A lot of those reasons were forged through my experience being initiated into darkness. I learned to not trust every Spirit who shows up as a benevolent source of love and light, and that they can masquerade well. So that message I’m supposed to give, I don’t know if there’s hidden malevolence in there, if delivering unsolicited messages might cause the individual distress, confusion, or pain in some way. I’ve been the recipient of unsolicited “psychic” information, and so I know what that feels like. It’s sorcery really. Mastery over self is the mark of a mature shaman. Carefully filtering messages from the Spirits, or insights, or visions, or methods of working, is an important part of maintaining integrity and reigning in. I believe the shaman’s relationship with the Spirits should be a mutual balance of give and take- a tandem sharing of responsibilities and power, with a mutual goal of decreasing pain and suffering. This takes work and tending and for those carrying trauma that’s more challenging, and can be especially challenging with those more unruly Spirits.

A Word For Unbelievers

Shamanism is not a faith. It’s never based on what might be true, or what we hope is true, but on direct experience. In shamanism we know what is true because we’ve experienced it ourselves. Likewise, shamanism is not a religion. It doesn’t have a central dogma that dictates belief and ritual, or a central worship of a godhead. It can seem incongruent that one shaman will say he doesn’t believe in demons while another actively does work with these malevolent entities (clearing them). But this really boils down to initiation. A shaman who doesn’t believe in demons likely just hasn’t had direct experiences with demons, as that isn’t his path. But the lack of direct experience doesn’t negate the experience of those who have. In the larger spiritual culture taking shape in contemporary societies this has created a conflict. On one side are those who’ve had direct experience with malevolent spiritual forces. They know the reality of evil firsthand and have experienced the duality. Their experiences have shown them that the darkness is far more than just a solipsistic projection of their own making. On the other are those who have had more mystical experience and have experienced the Oneness, the non-duality that is THE ALL.

Shamanism (as a role) contains elements of mysticism. It also contains elements of magick, of mediumship. A shaman is also a healer, an oracle, an alchemist, and a chaplain, or priest. While a shaman is all of these things, she is also none of them exclusively. There is a time to be the mystic, and a time to be the oracle. There’s a time to be the chaplain and soul-tend, sit with suffering people and speak love and compassion into them. And so, there is validity to the mystical and transcendental moments when one can see the eagle’s view with clarity and wonder. In this place duality does not exist and it all serves for our growth and benefit. But if you’ve been initiated into darkness you will have a weight to your expression that keeps your feet more planted on the ground than perhaps you’d like. People initiated into darkness are here to work with people, to sit with people, to assist in alleviating suffering. And there absolutely is an element of warriorship that has been forged through that fire. That warriorship doesn’t mean we fight with demons endlessly. It means we don’t back down, we stand guard, we stand for love at all costs, loving only love itself. It means we discern and recognize when anti-love is present and working in and through another human being, in ourselves, and understand the origins of such a thing to be other-worldly and of spiritual magnitude. My own pain and suffering has been necessary to my path, and I wouldn’t want to deny that same opportunity to anyone. But I also know I surely could have benefited from a corporeal teacher or mentor who could have helped me context my experiences, shown me the alchemical formula for transmuting all that lead quicker, and who would have countered some of that malevolence by speaking love into me. But it tends to go that those initiated into darkness through parental means (in childhood) often also lack the love and healing necessary to transmute those experiences into wisdom and service. We have to go a hard and lonely road with a lack of self-confidence and self-love. It’s no wonder that others who are going through initiatory crisis in the darkness are drawn to me. And I am honored to offer myself in that kind of work. But it just might look a little different than archaic shamanism, and intentionally so. That doesn’t make it less- less powerful, less effective, less shamanic. I rather think it makes me more- more precise in my specific shamanic expression, more aware of how that translates into the culture I am in, and more sensitive in harmonizing my techniques with the individual beliefs and experiences of those who seek my assistance.

This article was first published @ The Urban Shaman