June 22, 2018

In the Shadow with Jaguar


We exist on a flimsy spur of local consciousness overlooking the great expanse of being. Whenever we get shaken up or shaken loose, whether it be by going mildly mad or by exploding with paroxysms of God-awesome knowing, the surface crust of consciousness breaks like cracking ice and we fall into the depths from which we came. ...something is rising out of the vacuum of divine no-thing-ness, and it contains the seeds and codings of all that can ever be.

~ Jean Houston


In the Shadow with Jaguar

Dr. Houston wrote those words over sixteen years ago. I’m experiencing them now. And I am not the only one “falling into the depths from which we came,” am I?

I recently spent four days in Temescal Canyon with a team of shamanic trainers, eight other shamans in training, and Jaguar. We are on an eight-month journey around a medicine wheel and have entered the West, the Land of Shadow.

Over four days, we learned how to alter our perceptual states, gaining access to new ways of viewing our lives and the world. We met dead ancestors, freed ourselves from their energetic bindings, and received their gifts. We created a funeral altar, offered songs around the fire, and then left the park in silence.

We also held our own death rites, wrote our own eulogies and heard others speak of us as though we’d passed on. In this dress rehearsal for dying, the egoic fear of losing the little self loosened its grip, and I found new relationship with aspects of myself I had previously chosen to hide or ignore.

My “surface crust” was already cracked. It is now a gaping chasm, and “out of the divine no-thing-ness”, something is rising. Something in me that enjoys the darkness.

In this land of shadow, Jaguar medicine is a powerful ally. In her jungle, she is at the top of the food chain and has no natural enemies, so she pads gently, without fear, without defense, calm and comfortable in her own skin.

In a vision process, Jaguar carried me into a land where “only the dead are allowed to go,” and I watched past versions of myself die. I allowed her to carry me bareback into this strange underworld, felt her powerful neck, legs, and haunches, trusting she would return me home safe and sound. And she did.

I’m a little like Peter Pan returning to Wendy’s room for his shadow. Remember that scene? She sits on her bed and carefully sews it to the soles of his feet. I believe it is her caring that allows him to return for his shadow at all. He’d carelessly left it behind, but she’d folded it up and tucked it in a drawer. I believe it was the top drawer, with her delicates. I believe she held his shadow with the sweetest, most intimate innocence, and this is what drew him back. Her unconditional acceptance made the shadow acceptable.

I haven’t thought of Peter and Wendy in years, and never with this intimacy spin, but I am thinking often of shadow. With this crack in my crust, and like our friend Peter, I am discovering my shadow in the midst of ultimate acceptance, safety, and kindness. Hidden aspects of my being are emerging. For example, I’m learning that I’m a bit shy. Some parts of Sage have hidden away for so long that the light is a bit bright. They know back streets and shaded trails only, and are not so familiar with tea parties and polite gatherings. That’s fine. As long as I feed them, as long as they get to come out and play somewhere, because all parts of me must be welcome at my own party. But why did they hide in the first place?

As children, we get acculturated. It’s just what happens. We learn ideas about “right and wrong.” In order to survive and feel loved, we try to act “right” and project the “wrong” parts outside ourselves, onto others. Then we stone the others. Perhaps not physically, but certainly by character assassination, judgment, and fear. But what if all aspects are within all of us, and within those aspects lie “the seeds and codings of all that can ever be?”

This month, I invite you to search out the parts of yourself that you would rather no one see. You may have to look with great care, and perhaps go out more at night, since we’ve just passed the Solstice, and the sun, at its highest peak for the year, casts its smallest shadow. It’s well worth the work. These are part of you. Like Wendy, invite them to return with your kindness. Let them know they are safe. Fly around the room with them, then sew them back onto your soul.

If you feel a little nervous, invite Jaguar along to remind you you have no real enemies. This is your jungle. The most important thing is to let go of your own significance and replace it with a good belly laugh. Truth is, nothing is really hidden. As local shamanic teacher Claire Davis, says, “Everyone else can see them anyway.” Why not join the party? You may become more like Jaguar and feel a little calmer, a little more comfortable in your skin. Or, if you’re lucky, and if the moon is just right...you may go mildly mad and explode with paroxysms of God-awesome knowing.

Sage Knight is a local author, editor, and writing coach with a background in spiritual counseling and holistic health. Please visit her at www.SageKnightWrites.com.