Posts Tagged ‘Journeying’

There are so many ways to connect with and receive guidance from Spirit. A favorite of mine is to go on a medicine walk. While we can receive insights on any walk, a medicine walk is an intentional walk for guidance where we open up to our connection to All That Is for information. The closer to Nature we can get, the better, but urban walks can work as well. The key is to create sacred space beforehand as you would before doing any kind of ceremony or healing work to distinguish it from ordinary reality.

So to begin, set your intention for the question you would like information on, and create sacred space in your usual way. For me this includes greeting and welcoming the directions, my helping spirits, my highest self, and the land where I’m working, and allowing my body / mind / spirit to shift resonance by rattling, drumming, singing / etc. Once sacred space and intention are set, basically everything that happens during the walk can be considered part of the answer to the question that you are asking, as in journeying.

A medicine walk is a way to bring out your own spirit’s wisdom and to connect to Spirit’s wisdom, to be supported by the other compassionate beings around us who are available to offer their perspective, healing, and wisdom. Pay attention to anything unusual in your surroundings, anything that catches your attention and strikes an emotional chord. Pay attention to your body, to memories, to thoughts that wander through. Sink into your heart as you walk and invite Spirit to connect with you. You are loved and supported. Listen. Breathe. Feel yourself shift into sacred space.

Hold what your experience lightly, perhaps asking as something catches your attention, “If that were an answer, what would it be?” Let it unfold in its own time, which won’t necessarily be instantaneous, although sometimes we do experience the grace of immediate revelations, whose meanings may continue to unfold long after we take off our walking shoes.

I recently went for a medicine walk into the Angeles Mountains to gain some clarity around a difficult relationship. After about a mile along the trail, I turned a corner and, even though I’d been seeing the results of fire damage all along, I had to catch my breath at the particularly profound destruction in this one area. I found myself weeping at the sea of charcoal surrounding me, ashes where pine trees used to rise healthy and green. As I stood on the trail trying to compose myself, a hawk flew from a burnt limb on a closeby trees to a burnt limb on another, and I caught my breath again, this time with joy. I love hawks, and actually don’t get to see them often in this area of the mountains.  I stood still and heard the thought, “Wait… wait…” After a few minutes, the hawk’s mate flew over, and the pair rose out of the trees and circled low over my head for several minutes. I found myself crying from sadness and joy all at the same time.

I had my answer about the relationship – it was about sadness and the joy – not one or the other.  It was about ALL OF IT. It’s about holding both at the same time in my heart.

That was a piece of what I was shown on the walk, to give you a sense of how a medicine walk can work.

It’s important to end your walk in some way other than just getting in your car and going home. It’s a ceremony, and effective ceremonies need a beginning, middle, and end, so make sure to offer gratitude to the beings that supported you on your walk. Thank the directions, the land, Spirit, your own highest self, and any other helpers who worked with you. If your habit is to offer corn meal or tobacco, make an offering, or you can sing, offer a prayer, leave a strand of hair, or offer gratitude in whatever form works for you.

Nature is always speaking to us.  We ARE nature. A medicine walk just opens up the portal of communication between ordinary and non-ordinary reality so we can hear more clearly what Nature is saying.


Happy Walking!

Hawk in Burned-Out Tree, © Lynda Skeen

Hawk in Burned-Out Tree, © Lynda Skeen

Hawk and Mountains, © Lynda Skeen

Hawk and Mountains, © Lynda Skeen

“You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.” Pema Chodron

Hawks Circling Overhead © Lynda Skeen

Hawks Circling Overhead
© Lynda Skeen

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Shadow work allows us to acknowledge and integrate as much of our multidimensional selves as we are able, enriching our lives and our capacity for more growth. While Marianne Williamson might say in A Return to Love that “It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us,”* I know from personal experience that the dark can be terrifying as well. And if the light is frightening, maybe it’s not only for its sheer power, but for its power to reveal our “darkness,” our shadows, the totality of who we are. Shadow work is important because our unexplored parts are part of who we are, and it’s important to get to know as much of ourselves as possible so we won’t be blindsided by our own secrets, and so we can harness all of our energies for our highest good.   What do we keep hidden from ourselves and others, and what is our fear we have of it being seen? That is one of the basic questions of shadow work.


To begin, an initial journey you might want to do is re what does the shadow mean to you, apart from anyone else’s definition?


Here are some of my thoughts about ways of working shamanically with the shadow:


  • We can work with the Jungian definition of our shadow parts, which are aspects of ourselves our ego casts off / doesn’t accept. These are parts of ourselves that need to be acknowledged and integrated; I wouldn’t suggest merging with them too soon though or give them what they want necessarily; they can tend to be like wounded children who need love and acceptance so their true gifts can be revealed. Sometimes all they need is to be acknowledged; sometimes the integration work is more complex.


Here are some journeys you can do:

  • Journey to see if there’s a helping spirit that wants to be your specialist for this (might be someone you already work with; might not).
  • Then ask to meet one shadow part at a time.
  • Acknowledge it with love and compassion.
  • Ask if it needs anything.
  • Ask what its true nature is.
  • What is its purpose?
  • What is its medicine?
  • Journey to your True Self and ask what you need to do to be able to accept this part.
  • What healing do you need to do?
  • Does that shadow part need any healing?
  • And then work with your helping spirits to offer it the healing it asks for.


It’s a good idea to do this work with a trusted Helping Spirit, and ask them to facilitate anything that your Shadow might ask for. Remember, you can always come out of a Journey if it gets too intense or unpleasant; you can always say “no;” you always have free will. Your intent is to bring only what is for your highest good into your life.


  • Another obvious definition of our shadow that I’ve been shown is that “shadow is [just] the response of light to form.” While we’re in physical form, we’re going to throw a shadow, i.e. take up space. So a nice way of approaching this is to journey to the shadow your physical presence casts and acknowledge that it’s ok to exist as a physical being. Acknowledge and appreciate all that happens in the shade. Explore what is this Self that casts a shadow? What are your gifts and talents?


  • Along these lines is approaching shadow as a gift – darkness as grace. Mary Oliver writes in her wonderful poem Sleeping in the Forest, “All night / I heard the small kingdoms breathing / around me, the insects, and the birds / who do their work in the darkness.”**  We need the darkness. We need sleep and worms who burrow in the earth. We need to appreciate the beauty of mystery and creative chaos and the shroud of “darkness” around All That Is. Without the quiet space between notes there would be no music.


Journey to Mystery! Get to know your subconscious, that rich, fertile soil that lies within us. And acknowledge that much will never be understood or grasped consciously. Allow yourself time to explore silence and uninterrupted, unplanned time to go deep into yourself. Allow yourself to “be in the dark” about things – to not always have to know. Explore what are your shadows about but gently.


This is actually one of the hard things about living here in such a beautiful place like Los Angeles – there are so few rainy days to burrow in under a blanket and explore your interior world without the exterior, sunny world calling loudly to you. But here in the Northern Hemisphere the days are cooling off and getting shorter, and even in LA we’ll be getting some rain, so interior work gets easier.


Eucalyptus tree shadows - Golden Gate Park - © Lynda Skeen

Eucalyptus tree shadows – Golden Gate Park – © Lynda Skeen

Eucalyptus Tree shadows - Golden Gate Park - © Lynda Skeen

Eucalyptus tree – Golden Gate Park – © Lynda Skeen


  • Another way to explore the shadow is as the flip side of our strengths – the shadow of our light – the yang to our yin – the other side of the coin.
    • For instance, we can understand Love because its opposite exists. Acknowledge your capacity for the full gamut of emotions. You don’t have to act on them all; just acknowledge their existence.
    • And explore how on this plane of duality, energies and emotions can be expressed and experienced in “positive” and “negative” ways. It can be enlightening to explore how your passion for peace might actually be an expression violence (“hating war” more than “loving peace”), or how your “love” for someone is actually more a form of clinging out of your own insecurity. When you feel a twinge of discomfort about an action you are taking, that is a clue it’s something you might want to explore in terms of the shadow. Emotions have a huge spectrum – exploring them and shifting where you sit on the spectrum can be extremely empowering.


Soul retrieval, extraction, ancestral healing, energy work, and other forms of shamanic work can greatly assist with shadow work – before, during, and after. It’s important to sort out what energies are actually yours and what you’ve been holding onto from others, what have glommed onto you that aren’t actually yours; and what energies have you lost touch with along the way. It’s a spiral, not a linear process. The more whole and healthy you are, the better able you are to accept and integrate the shadow side of yourself, and the more of yourself you can accept and integrate, the more whole and healthy you become.


In addition to shamanic work, here are some suggestions for other ways in and to process what you’re shown:


  • Depending on what comes up, you might want to engage the help of a therapist to work on a psychological level. Regardless of whether or not you decide to work with a professional, it’s important to have emotional support during this process, a loved one or group of close friends who will be there for you as you do your work
  • Ask for insight from dreams before you go to sleep
  • Body work, both to help release some of the energies and to process them after they are released – including acupuncture, massage, etc. – keep the energies circulating and integrating
  • Meditation, acknowledging but not focusing on whatever comes up
  • Stream of consciousness art/music/ writing
  • Being out in nature, feeling your feet on the ground, acknowledging the four directions and your physical place in the world
  • Yoga and other forms of exercise the connect the body, mind and spirit

I hope these ideas might be useful springboards in your shadow work explorations. Take your time, be gentle and curious with yourself and the process, and remember that this work doesn’t end!


Many blessings on your process.


Joshua Tree rock spiral - © Lynda Skeen

Joshua Tree rock spiral – © Lynda Skeen





**from Mary Oliver’s collection Twelve Moons , p. 3; available online at http://www.poetseers.org/contemporary-poets/mary-oliver/mary-oliver-poems/sleeping-in-the-forest/




The Poet in Bed in the Morning


I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out…
–Billy Collins, “Introduction to Poetry”


She drops a mouse into her bed of poems
to see what it would do – what she would do.
It crawls across her covered feet,
then wraps its tail around her bedpost
like a string around its finger,
not wanting to forget its strength
(it can do this –
it can do this).
She picks some words from between her teeth
and holds them out to the mouse.
“Come back,” she says.
But the mouse leaps onto a window ledge
then disappears through a slit in the screen.

So she licks the words from her fingers,
leans back,
and looks at the day.
She is a child under a sprinkler,
a baby at its mother’s breast.
She has no idea what to do
with either words or nourishment.
Drinks too much.
Lets herself feel full and dull and stupid.
Maybe she should shave her head.

Instead, she muffles the day with ear plugs,
rolls over around a pillow,
covers her eyes with a blanket,
and releases herself again
to the dark.


© Lynda Skeen


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Journey to a Bug Deva

The more I learn about Spirit, journeying, and the mysteries of what it means to be human and divine at the same time, the more I realize how little I know. Sometimes I have to remind myself of the basics of what I have been shown, the essence of what I have experienced since I began on the shamanic path over 20 years ago:

– everything is alive
– everything is sacred
– everything is connected
– everything can be communicated with

When I was first learning to journey, I was living in a studio apartment in the Tenderloin in San Francisco, taking public transportation wherever I needed to go, working in the Financial District, and suddenly seeing cockroaches everywhere. As a writer, I noticed the pattern and took notes as they appeared on buses, in my apartment, in the office…, did some research, then decided to journey to the cockroach deva, the oversoul of cockroaches, to see if I could connect with its spirit and find a way to make sense of these bugs that creeped me out and intrigued me at the same time.

I’m sharing below the poem that came from that journey, and want to encourage anyone who knows how to journey to connect with the the other life forms that are in your life. Everything is alive, sacred, connected, and can be communicated with. And if you don’t know how to journey, please contact a shamanic practitioner to learn!

Many blessings!


Visit with a Pregnant Cockroach

i visited her or maybe
she visited me
with her ribbed sack of eggs,
just as pregnant as she could be

she burst into my world and
had plenty to say
although all I wanted was for
her to go away

but a cockroach is a cockroach
and they don’t easily quit
but at least there’s no venom
(they don’t sting or spit)

but they’ll jump off your ceiling
and land in your bed then
crawl up your body and
onto your head
they’ll chew through your earplugs and
into your brain then
fester and simmer and drive you insane

and indeed i became her and
she became me and i
went into a creepy creepy place
to be

she said,

we’ll drink from your eye lids at night while you sleep and
nibble on scabs
after all you can’t keep
them you just want to peel them and
give them away
like us but you know that
we’re here
to stay

we’ll outlive your wars and your sprays and your bombs
your chalk and your traps and hotels of glued aplomb
we’ll eat up your food while you’re gone away at work
you know we’re not proud and
at stealing don’t shirk

we just do what we do as
you do what you must

excuse me a second my sack’s about to bust

how did i get here
and why must i stay?
i know you’re just antsy to
give me away but
i rode across town on a #2 bus in a
black leather jacket on a young boy named Russ
he had short blond hair and a cute little smile
so cute, in fact, i thought i’d stay awhile

my brother was killed in a late night attack
by a woman in pink slippers who
got up to fix a snack
she saw him and screamed and threw down her knife ­
it cut him in two and
i had to tell his wife
he lived for a week without his whole head until
he starved to death and
then he was dead

we had him for lunch the very next day
now stop, close your mouth,
i know what you’re going to say
but we’ve heard a few tales of you
eating your own
sometimes for pleasure in
the privacy of your home

we just do what we do
as you do too ­

oh by the way, i almost forgot
(i had a big breakfast and
my memory’s shot)
a woman she sat with her pants at her ankles in the
gutter of 3rd as she squatted to tinkle ­
my sister she jumped right in that chick’s shoes and
while she waited for her ride she took a little snooze

she sent me a dream and let me know she was fine
she’s expecting too and i hope you don’t mind
i invited her family to stay in my nest
i filled it with things from your kitchen ­the best

we’ll stay here and grow and multiply some more
first one, then two, then three, then four
thousand of us and we’ll just keep on fucking
like you
and we’ll breed
for as long as we’re lucky

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I recently came back from Sandra Ingerman’s Medicine for the Earth and Healing with Spiritual Light workshop at the Joshua Tree Retreat Center in Joshua Tree, California. It was an amazing week of deepening my relationship with spirit as well as other practitioners and the land itself, spending much time journeying to the place where the material world comes from – where form is dreamed into being. The food, fellowship, insights, and high vibration of the 5-day retreat were amazing.

Literally the day I got back, I was faced with some very challenging situations at home. For the first couple of days, it was actually easy to face things from my expanded point of view, but I soon found myself sinking back into the heaviness of practicality and talking myself out of the limitless sense of possibility I had touched in Joshua Tree. I tried to remember to practice what Sandra called “transfiguration,” connecting to my divine light and connection to Source. I spent time every day in gratitude and transmuting negative energetic patterns I might have been projecting outward, as well as any that might have been projected towards me, but it was still difficult.

The thing about opening up to new insights, to seeing things in a new way when you are removed from your day-to-day life, or even if you are still in your day-to-day life, is that if you can’t/don’t/or won’t integrate them, your spiritual emergence process can actually turn into the more painful process of spiritual emergency, where your circuits blow out and you are basically unable to function.I didn’t want to get to that point. I wanted to soak up the divine light I knew was always in and around me and face the new challenges in my life from a place of gratitude, adventure, and wonder rather than getting bogged down in fear and negativity.

So I have spent a lot of time looking at some pictures I took of some of my favorite rock formations in Joshua Tree National Park, where a friend and I spent a couple of days debriefing after the workshop. When you have a peak experience, you see things that might have always been there that you never noticed before, or you might have actually created new things that never existed. The pictures that particularly moved me, and continue to speak to me, are of a hole in the rocks that you can easily miss if you aren’t paying attention and looking from a particular angle. I’ll post the photos below.

We always have the option to see things differently. And to create new things to see. We just need to keep practicing – and practice is the operative word – being open and aware. We need to pay attention, with open hearts.

One of the songs we sang at the workshop says it well:
“I am opening up in sweet surrender
to the luminous love light of the One.”

May we stay open to our lives just continuing to get more and more amazing.


Copyright 2014, Lynda Skeen

Copyright 2014, Lynda Skeen


Copyright 2014, Lynda Skeen

Copyright 2014, Lynda Skeen



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I recently did a gratitude journey to the spirit of the Ocean for a friend, and was surprised by the attitude Ocean immediately started giving me, asking me for a laundry list of things it needed rather than hearing and accepting the heartfelt gratitude that was already being offered.

I have learned when in the presence of these amazing Spirits to hold my ground when they get feisty, so I paused and said I knew it needed all those things – trash collection, oil clean-up, quiet waters, protection for its inhabitants, etc. – but that I was there to offer gratitude.

She calmed down a bit, but began to express her (I’ll use “her” even though I experienced her as both male and female) frustration at how many people just “appreciate” her beauty without participating in her care or appreciating her power and the multifaceted energies that she is.   She has a lot to teach us about boundaries and interdependence, as well as sheer beauty and power and mystery.

I assured her that my friend did indeed appreciate her, but was on vacation and really needed to connect with the recuperative powers of her beauty.  I asked Ocean if she would accept the thanks being offered, and she said yes; now that she had been heard, there wasn’t such a sense of urgency to get her message across.

I have always loved the ocean, having grown up on the East Coast and now living on the West Coast.  I have spent quite a bit of time at the shore, swimming beyond the breakers, listening underwater to dolphins, sitting on the sand and being lulled into peace by breaking waves…  But this journey gave me a whole new appreciation for the Ocean, and a new level of commitment to taking care of her.

And it was also a reminder of the importance of reciprocity in our connection to nature spirits – as well as all other beings.  We need to make sure our gratitude isn’t just a public relations tool.  We need to really mean it.

I’ve attached some photos I took while at the Pacific Ocean recently.  My heart really is full of gratitude for her beauty, mystery, and power, and I will be spending more time working on her behalf.

Have a beautiful week!

© Lynda Skeen

© Lynda Skeen


© Lynda Skeen

© Lynda Skeen


© Lynda Skeen

© Lynda Skeen




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When I recently failed at an opportunity I was pursuing, I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me.  It was more than a disappointment for some reason.  I journeyed on it, and my helping spirits showed me some of the reasons this situation had appealed to me in the first place, and ways I could fulfill what I’d been searching for in other ways.  This “failure” woke me up to the fact that my life needed to meditate more.  It needed more space, more openness.  More shelf space and less things on the shelves.  Less shelves even.


So I’ve been clearing out files (do I really need to save going-away cards signed by friends at jobs I worked at almost 30 years ago?), books, my Amazon.com wish list, expectations, my calendar, and my diet, giving joy more room to wiggle, and gratitude and spontaneity more room to play.  If everything in our lives is already full, there’s no room for anything new, or room to just pause and rest.

As I wrote in my last post, when we take better care of ourselves, we can be of better service to others.  It’s important to have space in our lives to cultivate peace and a relationship with All That Is.


One practice that’s been very moving for me has been in my yoga practice.  At the end of a kundalini yoga class, we sing three rounds of a song called “Long Time Sun,” first to ourselves (I love that we don’t leave ourselves out!); next, sing to someone else who needs a blessing, and then we sing it to the larger world.  Of course it’s also important to take physical actions in the physical world but it’s important to have the foundational energy clear first.


That’s why it’s important to love peace rather than hating war, which just sets up the same cycle of violence.  Same goes for working for any kind of justice, environmentalism, or other cause.


Another practice I find helpful is a simple yet profound Buddhist lovingkindness practice, also called “metta meditation.”  Again, you start with yourself, meditating the following words or something similar in your own words:


May I be happy.

May I be well.

May I be safe.

May I be peaceful and at ease.


Then  meditate in that same vein for another person who has deeply cared about you, then other acquaintances, animals, strangers, and, finally, enemies.  Do it for as long or as short a time as you like.  “Doing metta we plant the seeds of love,” Sharon Salzberg says  (http://www.vipassana.com/meditation/facets_of_metta.php).  The Metta Institute website also has some good information (www.mettainstitute.org).


If we raise our vibration before we act, our actions will be that much more potent and healing.


I wish you many blessings on your day.

© Lynda Skeen

© Lynda Skeen


© Lynda Skeen

© Lynda Skeen


© Lynda Skeen

© Lynda Skeen


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We want to help.

We want to watch the news and participate in world events, to assist in whatever way we can to ease suffering and right wrongs.

But it can get to us after awhile.

We need to make sure we are tending to our own needs as well as those of others.  If our vibration has become heavy, depressed, and toxic, we’re not going to be able to help anyone else, and might even cause more harm to them or ourselves.  Like the now-cliché instruction on planes, we need to put on your own oxygen masks before attempting to assist others.

It’s ok to take a break from watching the news, to reduce your exposure to things that are stressing us out that you have no control over, to block people from our Facebook newsfeeds who are ambushing us with negativity.

Beyond taking a break from stressors and removing things that no longer serve us, it’s important to bring in more of what nurtures and sustains us, to create a healing environment around ourselves that we can entrain ourselves to.  Of course it’s best to take care of ourselves along the way, but we should also have an “emergency self-care kit” for difficult times.

Take some time to meditate, pray, or journey to your helping spirits about ways that you can simplify your life of toxicity and bring in higher vibrations.  Consider the physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional aspects of your life, and engage all of your senses.

I recently journeyed on this for myself, asking my helping spirits for help with detoxing and clarity about what to bring in to my life.

Before I even journeyed, I was reminded about the importance of gratitude.  I spent a few minutes writing a gratitude list, planning to write 50 things I was thankful for.  By the time I got to 25, my heart was soaring, and I was ready to journey.

My helping spirits helped me to release some energies I was holding onto, and reminded me of some things I needed more of in my life:

  • time in nature
  • playing (and not just competitive on-line Scrabble games!)
  • certain colors, like a string of cobalt-blue glass beads to catch the light, or golden sunshine
  • particular fabrics, scents, and music
  • the element of water (a shower, a glass of water, a walk on the beach)
  • more journey time on my own behalf, not just for clients

I was also reminded that I’m not the first person to have a hard time dealing with the heaviness of this plane, and I won’t be the last.  Being reminded that I wasn’t alone helped in itself.

So what makes you clearer, energized, peaceful, more present, more loving?  Get out of the fray, collect yourself, and then you’ll be able to be of service.  I’d love to hear about what makes your heart sing!  Feel free to leave me a comment below, or to private email me.

Here are some photos I took when I spent some time playing out in the woods after my journey, which nurtured me on all levels.

IMG_2131 turtle in woods2 - face

© Lynda Skeen

IMG_2132 turtle in woods3 - eye

© Lynda Skeen


© Lynda Skeen

© Lynda Skeen

© Lynda Skeen

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