I remember having dreams from as young as I am able to hold memories in this life. From the age of two, I remember speaking to a man who I considered to be my very best friend. He had long, dark hair that he wore in a plait; he was tall; and he had a kind, wise face that I knew very well. He would help me with my dreams, and also with the odd entities that "hung around" the shadows of my room. I called them "shadow men".
I would often - almost always - dream of snakes. They were small, black snakes that would engulf my whole body, but I was never scared of them because they were also my friends. I could feel their safety; their protection; and my dream-friend would tell me they were my guardians. He would tell me that if I ever felt scared or in trouble, all I had to do was call on the snakes and I would be safe.
I did call on them. Especially during the times the shadow men came. Right up until the age of about six or seven, I would see "shadows" in the shadows of my room at night. Not every night, but they came often enough. I always felt them before I saw them (clairsentience). My skin would prick, and I'd feel apprehensive; I found myself sliding under the bed sheet because if I couldn't see them, maybe they wouldn't see me. But I inevitably found myself peeking out from above my covers .... yes, there they were (clairvoyance). I would go through all the "logic" scenarios in my mind: they are just shadows cast from furniture (that's what all the adults said). Except they weren't, because the furniture was not the shape of men like the shadows were, and the shadows that the shadow men gave were a shade darker than any other shadow in my room.
And then, I would hear them whispering (clairaudience). There were always about three or four of them, and I knew they were whispering about me. I could never understand what they were saying, but my sense was always that they wanted to take me away - they felt I was owed to them, or something. So, I called on the snakes. I would squeeze my eyes shut, and visualise the snakes, and they always came - straight away. My dream-friend always came with the snakes, too. Together they protected me, and the shadow men never touched me. They could never come close; they were bound to the edges of my room. With snakes all over me, and my dream-friend whispering soothing words in my ear, I would fall asleep.
As I grew up, I began to understand that I carried snake medicine into this world from a previous life (or lives). I also came to realise this dream-friend was a spirit guide, and I understood him to be Native American. Of which exact tribe, I have no idea - I never even learnt his name, although he spoke to me about other things. I remember once, when I was around twelve, I got a bunch of books out of the library about Native American cultures throughout history to see if I could recognise anything in it, and I would also scour the photographs to see if I could find him in all the faces (I saw him very clearly - I was sure I could pick him out of a photograph), but I never did see him.
He stayed with me right up until I was 19 years old, and then he told me that, sadly, he had to leave me now. I never got a chance to ask why, but when he left, it felt different - it felt final. That was the last time I saw him until very recently (which is a whole different story).
During all those years until I was 19, it became that I could speak to him in my waking hours as well as my dreaming hours, and it also became that the dream journeying I naturally did in my sleep as a child continued as I got older, first through leaving my body as I day-dreamed, and then through my learning the skill of conscious lucid dreaming (all of this was before I knew what shamanic practices were, or the intricacies of Native American spiritual culture). When I was about 20, and after I'd begun to read the Tarot for others, I happened upon a book during my spiritual venture that discussed how African (not Native American) shamans could dream journey by rocking. A huge penny dropped because this was exactly how I had journeyed during my day-dreaming hours as a child: sitting cross-legged on the floor, rocking back and forth. I felt elated that I could recognise myself in this!
That was the beginning of my research into all aspects of shamanism, from all cultures - Native American to Celtic. During that period (the year was 2000), I met a man called Ivan McBeth whose lessons in shamanism (his version was eclectic, but focusing mainly on Toltec) changed my life irrevocably. It was a healing journey that lasted a year, and took me through a death and rebirth rite of passage and initiated me into the "path of heart" as a shamanic warrior. It remains to this day one of my proudest achievements because to be shamanic is a process and something you'll do for the rest of your life once you've committed to it - you can't not, because your perspective of life is altered beyond measure.
I've never called myself a "shaman", but I have and do incorporate some of its practices, and the shamanic way influences all I do; more than that, it helped solidify all my meetings with my spirit guide as a child. I now know my spirit guide was someone I knew in a past life (more than one) and also my twin flame for our lives literally weave in and out of each other's. I know I've been a spirit guide to him in some of his incarnations, just as he has been to me in some of mine. I know that when I cross over at the end of this life, I'll see him again at the gateway. I am not Native American in this life, but I have flashes of more than one past life when I have been. Perhaps it's not a bad thing that they are just flashes rather than full-on memories ... truth is, I think those full-on memories would hurt too much.
Shamanic principles, due to all the above I suppose, have always formed a basis for my spiritual work, and the way I live my life (or at least I've tried - the latter, certainly, is hard at times in England 2019). But shamanic influences span worldwide and include ancient Celtic practices, and one of the things I have always felt drawn to ever since moving to England is its Arthurian myths and legends, and fairy lore. There are some similarities among all shamanic cultures, so in many ways, I have found a spiritual home in the lush, green valleys of this enriched island.
Due to my study of, my work with, and my connection to shamanism - and how it was birthed in snakes and shadows, if you will - I have never shied away from shadow work, or the shadow self within. How we work through our shadow and transform it into light can be seen in fantasy fiction and the hero's journey. Perhaps it helped, though, that I also believed in angels for they, too, were in my life as a child and young adult, though they were far more distant and elusive than my spirit guide. Angels have a long, strong connection to shamanic cultures around the world, notably (that we know best of) to the Incas in Peru. You can read about my journey with angels here.
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