The unasked question is, "What kind of assignments do you give a traditional shaman-in-training?"
When we covered healing, I actually had to heal - three illnesses or injuries - before I was allowed to continue with my studies. Instructed to read the weave of reality, the task was to not only see events that had yet to happen, but each foreseen occurrence had to be confirmed before we moved on to the next subject. Some of the material we covered was simple psychology. Other bits of instruction fell under the umbrella of biology or ecology. However, portions of my training embraced concepts that the general public would label as psychic abilities or even miracles.
The most dramatic? I shredded my right knee, severely tearing my MCL, almost completely severing my ACL, and tearing the meniscus. The diagnosis was made by three separate physicians and an orthopedic specialist. My knee had absolutely zero lateral stability and, if you pushed on it, would swing side-to-side like a hinged gate. Ten days after the injury, I was walking without a limp, had returned to the gym, and my MRI came back completely clean. After showing me the film, the visibly uncomfortable orthopedic specialist simply walked out the room and never returned. (I had to flag down a nurse and ask if my appointment had ended.) Today, I'm running and logging several miles each morning without an ounce of pain, instability or discomfort. No surgery. My knee went from "shredded" to "completely healthy" in ten days.
To science, there's no explanation for the injury and its subsequent disappearance. Religion would tell us it's a miracle. Traditional shamanism looks at it simply as a normal and completely possible part of life.
To grossly oversimplify a tremendously complicated concept, when a traditional shaman looks at anything, they see three different parts of the subject simultaneously - the physical (body), the connections and symbolic nature of the subject (mind), and its energy (spirit). When we turn this three-part perspective on ourselves, we find that we also exist simultaneously on multiple levels. Without some sort of training, these three pieces of ourselves become muddled into a single concept. With training, they are three very distinct entities, layered together into a single being like overlapping drawings on onion skin paper. All we have to do is learn to lift up each page and consider it both as a single sheet and how it adds to the picture when added to the other two pages.
We don't work miracles primarily because we haven't been taught to distinguish between these three pieces of ourselves. It's like approaching a piano and pressing three consecutive keys - white, black, white - in a close bunch. What we get is dissonance. It sounds horrible. To work miracles, what we need to do is understand and honor these individual aspects of ourselves. In our analogy, that puts some space in between our fingers. Then we need to balance the various aspects of ourselves, a process very much like playing a chord.
When we simply mash the keys down on a piano, the musical possibilities before us are tremendously limited. When we begin with a chord, it gives us a key in which to play music. The chord is the foundation of our work; the melody is what we manifest.
Even in traditional shamanic training, the process takes a considerable amount of time to unravel and reassemble. But what if, through some phenomena, the entire transformation could be condensed into a few days? Earlier this week (Secret #4: The Bloodline), we considered the concept that "psychic abilities" would awaken as we drew near the end of the world. This theory is the inspiration behind the title of my second novel, The Awakening (May 13th). Having your identity shattered into three separate perspectives would be a rollercoaster ride, even before those pieces began to pull apart, seeking balance.
In the normal flow of life, our lessons are often painful for us to process. We struggle to embrace new perspectives, to set aside old habits and prejudices, and fight ourselves to embrace our goals and standards. Imagine what it would feel like to have your very reality - from the way you see the world to how you see yourself - rewritten in a matter of days.
[He] began to scream, overwhelmed by the images that assaulted his mind, buried under the roar of countless voices that once more filled his ears. His agonizing cry had begun as a release, a way of blocking out the sights and sounds that buried his senses, the scream a path through the nightmare, a single, constant sensation that he could hold onto, that he could use as an anchor amidst the chaos. But it too began to change. [He] heard himself begin to mouth the words that filled his ears, countless languages spilling from his lips, unable to control his own voice. Somewhere, beyond the darkness, he felt tears of desperation trickle down his face, felt a gentle hand wipe them away. In the back of his mind, he knew that it could only be [her], that somehow, she watched over him. But the knowledge was quickly lost amidst the maelstrom of sounds and visions and [his] consciousness was swept away by a terrible current that threatened to wash away his sanity, his memory of who he was sinking to the bottom of an endless sea of images and voices.Editor's Note: I've removed the [names] from this passage to keep from spoiling any of the story.
To a traditional shaman, the ability to "work miracles" is as accepted as gravity; there's simply nothing unusual about it. Like any path, there are those who have more aptitude than others, but anyone can work miracles in much the same way that anyone can learn to play piano. A little later this year, I'll be publishing a non-fiction book called, Unfolding Reality: Waking Up, that is designed to lead the reader through this process at their own pace - a journey much more comfortable than that faced by the characters in The Awakening, but just as powerful and effective.
The Awakening (May 13, 2011) sets the stage for A Tide of Shadows (May 2012), which in turn builds to the climax found in Days of the Fallen (May 2013). You can read the first three chapters online for free. The Awakening will be published on Friday the 13th in both paperback and ebook formats.
Secret One: Aleph (May 1st)
Secret Two: The End (May 2nd)
Secret Three: Angels (May 3rd)
Secret Four: The Bloodline (May 4th)
Secret Five: Heaven and Hell (May 5th)
Secret Six: What Does God Look Like? (May 6th)
Secret Seven: Working Miracles (May 7th)
Secret Eight: The Four Horsemen (May 8th)
Secret Nine: Small Town Mysteries (May 9th)
Secret Ten: Photographing the Paranormal (May 10th)
Secret Eleven: Blood on the Threshold (May 11th)
Secret Twelve: Find the Thread (May 12th)
Secret Thirteen: How Does the World End? (May 13th)