Talisman

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Over the past few years, I’ve had an ongoing goal of losing weight and becoming healthier. Unfortunately, it was a goal I had made little progress in; my blood pressure and weight were reaching uncomfortably high levels. When I realized I finally hit the threshold of being too unhealthy, I decided I needed assistance. I found a supportive physician who felt confident I could get my health under control and had a good conversation about options, latest medical research, and effective supplements.

I know I can be a determined and willful person, but had lost the desire to be so in a long series of mishaps, misfortunes, and slothfulness. Before the new year, I once again took up the mantle of exercise, dieting, and mindfulness. Soon after, I began feeling that revitalizing power of self-control buzzing through my body. My experience with the Shaman was a way to reinforce and build that vitality further. But I am a symbolic person, it must be the Jungian in me, and I wanted something physical to represent my will and my commitment to my goal. That’s when I saw the talismans.

Against one wall of the new-age store I saw a display case of bronze talismans and amulets. Talismans are objects that are believed to instill the wearer with energy, power, or confidence; this is compared to amulets which are objects intended to protect or ward off a specific evil or force for the wearer. This is, of course, a general and coarse comparison, but it will suffice for now. Two talismans caught my eye. Both were even supposedly “blessed” by a “practicing alchemist” upon creation. What better way to concretize my determination but with an object historically used to support such causes?

Talisman

Eventually I selected a talisman that was purportedly copied from a magic belt of charms from a medieval knight, now resting in a museum in Warsaw (I have since tried to fact-check this but my knowledge of Polish is lacking). The design is to protect “against frailty of spirit and self doubt,” instilling confidence and resolve in the wearer. Last night I finally took the talisman out of its casing and meditated with it, ritually preparing it and myself for its use. I even slept on it to get used to the feeling of wearing it.

Now, do I believe that a mass-produced object intrinsically has the ability to “generate energy” and influence my thinking? Wishful, magical thinking, but the idea and the power behind the object, I think, it the mediating factor of its effect. It could be seen as a fetish for associated archetypes within the collective unconscious, perhaps, or a reflection of an outer spiritual dimensions, like a crucifix or a Star of David. Or it could be a mere personal symbol to invoke introspection. I am still thinking and reflecting, but I think for me, first and foremost, it’s personal. If there is an additional effect, I’ll be very happy to accept it.

Since I put it on last night, I have noticed a few things. Last night I slept very well, deeply and intensely, and felt refreshed upon waking. I feel more confident while wearing it; when it feel it brushing up against my skin, I am reminded I am doing this, I am steadfast, I am secure. At work today, I found myself feeling ‘taller.’ Because the amulet hangs from a long thong, it presses into the middle-lower section of my sternum, subconsciously correcting my posture. My breathing is deeper, calmer, and my posture feels natural and straight. All these factors reinforce my feeling of confidence, making me feel more energetic and alive. Interesting how a mere piece of metal can have such subtle, albeit synergistic, effects, leading to larger, noticeable changes.

So far the talisman is doing exactly what it promised and I feel radiant and confident. Placebo effect or not, it is having a good influence on my well-being.

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Interesting Observation Post-Shaman

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I always try to remain skeptical about my interests, including the occult, natural medicine, spiritualism, and other topics. Thinking about my Shamanic experience, I wondered if losing my migraine was a placebo effect or a sham treatment. It seemed unlikely for it to be such, but I wanted to challenge my experience and learn as much as I could from it.

The next day after my treatment, I laid in bed beside my significant other, describing the experience. I recounted the focus she had towards my legs and feet. Talking about my legs made me realize something incredibly surprising: I realized I had no soreness, stiffness, and pain in both of my entire legs! Lately I’ve had a renewed push of exercising and had been running every day for the past two weeks. On top of that, I had a strenuous leg day in the gym and my gait was stiff, my legs extremely sore, and I was having pain. I was planning on seeing a professional deep-tissue masseuse to help work on legs.

I touched and rubbed my legs: calf, quads, hamstrings, and all the sore tendons. Nothing was taught, nothing was sore, all my muscle knots were gone. A bruise that I had on my right calf was still there, but had no pain. I was totally dumbstruck. How could that ritual affect my somatic body so much, especially my tough, knot-ridden legs? I can’t explain it.

Right then and there, I had confirmation that the experience was way more than anything that could resulted from a sham treatment, placebo, or mere wishful thinking. Something profound and deep had occurred. Exactly what and how to explain it, I’m not exactly sure. But I won’t doubt the experience. I’ll see the Shaman again in a month and a half. I’m excited for what comes next.

Encounter with a Shaman

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Today I visited a Shaman. Shamanism has been a curious interest of mine for quite some time now, so when the opportunity presented itself I leapt upon it. Most of what I’ve read focuses on the traditions of Central and South American traditions, such as the beliefs and rituals of the Shuar people. I’ve read a few books from members of the Dream Change Coalition, like John Perkins. Surprisingly, I know little of North American traditions. The Shaman I met was raised in Oklahoma and learned from the elders of her tribe. She later received further training in message therapy and Reiki as well.

I didn’t have a real plan or reason to arrange a session but beyond an urge and an inner calling. Reading about the Shaman’s abilities, she advertised her ability to perform <i>Soul Retrieval</i> rituals. Sometimes during periods of stress, trauma, and change, sections of the soul can splinter off and become detached and lost, creating a vacuum within the person. An imbalance forms as there is a loss of vitality and self. I’ve experienced two such moments in my life. Reflecting back on my life, I think I lost parts of myself when ending a long-term, important relationship and when I was actively serving as a therapist.

When the relationship ended, I later found a vacuum within myself and I experienced a crisis of faith. A section of me was <i>gone</i>, dead, missing like it had never existed in the first place. It’s something I’m still trying to work through and process, regaining a sense of faith, purpose, and wonder about the world. When I was a therapist, I encountered some of the worst evils mankind can render into itself and unto others. There was even a time I wondered if one of my patients was experiencing serious mental illness or, literally, a demonic possession. I was swallowed by stress, anxiety, and depression. I experienced bodily and spiritual threats that had me reeling. I think I lost something in my attempt to carry other’s sins.

Thinking about these experiences, I asked the Shaman if that would be something appropriate. Moreover, I asked, for a diagnostic. My understanding was limited and I didn’t really know what I <i>needed</i>. Our time was short, she only had one 30-minute appointment slot available at that time. She agreed to perform a diagnostic and perform some energy medicine. Earlier, about two hours before my session, I developed a migraine and I was upset at myself; I worried I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the session or be fully engaged. When she said she was going to evaluate my physical, emotional, spiritual, and astral bodies, I told her about my migraine. I had a pain rating of about 6 before entering the building, which lessened to about a 3 before the session. She confidently said she would remove the migraine. I felt doubtful.

The session began with my lying back on a covered table. The room had lingering warm scents of sacred sage and incense while soft new age Native American music played in the background. The Shaman asked me to relax; I closed my eyes and focused on my senses and inner thoughts. As never having experienced energy medicine, I felt doubtful but optimistic and curious. The Shaman placed her hands near my head, barely touching me. The first thing I noticed was the warmth radiating from her hands, as if she had placed them near a fire and they were just emitting heat. The hands lingers and she made a “pulling motion” as she moved off and away from my head. She placed her hands above and around my head and I felt the warmth again. My pain lessened from a 3 to a 2 and I was very impressed.

She began to move about the room, moving her hands around my body. Despite having my eyes closed during the entire session, I always knew where she was; she was warm and I felt something around my body reacting to her. When she was near my legs, I felt warmth pooling into my calves and thighs. At one point she had a small grasp of under my ankles and I felt something moving and changing in the taught muscles of my legs. The more present she was, the more I felt a melting or relaxing of something rigid and stagnant in my body.

The Shaman placed some objects near my solar plexus, crystals (although I could not tell what they were), and I felt a pulling and a drawing towards them. She walked behind me and picked up her sacred drum and began to drum a constant and unchanging pattern of rhythmic, vibrational beats. Honestly, I have never experienced anything like this. I felt <i>everything</i> vibrating; it pulsed through me and I felt the vibrations echoing through my body. The crystals resonated on my chest, buzzing slightly with the energy. As she worked the vibrations around my head, my migraine melted away despite my fear the noise would worsen it. The beat was hypnotic, stimulating, relaxing, energizing, all at once.

As she worked down my body, I felt changes. When she worked around my legs, I felt a lightening occurring that began to spread upwards into my body. More warmth flooded into my body and I felt a golden radiance beginning to coat me. She continued to work up around my body and I felt as if I was floating, almost weightless, as if I was barely resting on the table. One of my inner thoughts was “My blood is buzzing” and it somehow felt ‘cleaner.’

As she completed the drumming, changing the rhythm by my head and gently ending the rhythm. She burned sage and fanned the smoke across my body with a hawk-feather fan. The energy around my body felt more clean and the smell of sage made me relax. Finally, she brought out a rattle and shook it, preparing the end of the session. She removed the crystals from my chest and sat next to me. The Shaman asked me about my experience and what felt different. At first it was hard to explain. There was “more energy” pooling in my legs and upper thoracic cavity; I felt a weighlessness and a new feeling of vitality; there was an inexplicable feeling of euphoria that felt “outside” of me. I felt more “me.” She said she focused on realigning my chakras and balancing my energies. She did note that I did have some definite soul loss but that I had been working on it. She said she could tell I was actively trying to regain lost parts. She said she was confident I could reclaim the pieces on my own, or that a Shaman could assist me with the process (I have to admit that I was impressed that she never tried to “sell” further services, but said another Shaman or her, if I prefered, could assist). She provided some minor psychological counseling and concluded the session.

It was a tremendous experience. I drifted out of the room, as if awakened from a deep slumber, I felt buzzing and radiant, alive and more present. I felt kinder, more whole, more powerful. I felt that I was more than my body. I felt things like that I was a layered being and had multiple layers of experience beyond the singular one I was feeling. Truthfully, I don’t know everything that I experienced, but I was moved. I wanted to cry and experience catharsis. Something changed, but I can’t even explain it. Even now, as I type this, I feel flush with energy and vitality. The Shaman spoke about how the work performed today will continue to work and change me over time. I am curious to see what I feel and experience in the time to come.

I signed up for her next visit in February and want to experience a full soul-retrieval ceremony. As this new year dawns, I have many goals for myself and I want to keep developing my spiritual elements. I know I will make the change necessary.

Dream 9/29/14: Hunger Games

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I never have read the books, but I saw most of the first film and snippets of the second film. I have no idea why I dreamed about the franchise twice in one night.

We stand in an area filled with smoldering rubble and debris. We are finishing our second round of the games, knowing that, soon, we will compete in our third and final round. In the distance is our objective. Breaking through an obstacle wall of giant marshmallows, we charge across the battlefield. Although we begin as competitors, I rally us together towards the common foe. We make plans that, in our next round, we will assault the high tower in the distance and incite the rebellion.

It was an action-packed dream, but the memory of it quickly faded. That’s only the synopsis.

Dream 10/20/14: Ghosts and Zombies

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It’s almost Halloween and I have been watching horror movies with a friend to prepare for the holiday. I’m pretty sure they influenced my dreaming.

Dream One:

The industrial complex we’re in appears to be haunted by malevolent spirits. Three companions and I form a squad to root out the spirits so no one gets hurt. We select our gear, don protective tan jumpsuits, and prepare protective magics to defend ourselves. Standing outside and watching the sunset fade into a dark, indigo horizon, I clear my mind and begin to inscribe a protective circle of warding into the dirt. A light breeze rustles the grass near me and I feel the magic beginning to build. My companions and I discuss which elements to use and to place them on which cardinal direction. I select a feather to represent air on the south, grass to represent earth on the east, a small flask of water to represent water at the west, and a companion uses something for fire on the earth. I emphasize that the elements and symbols don’t matter as much as faith that the circle will protect them. Doubt will subvert the protection the ritual provides.

After steeling ourselves, we advance into the building, hustling through industrial corridors towards the epicenter of the haunting. We split into two teams, planning to converge on the central chamber to surprise the dark entity within. Leading our unit, I charge down a mechanical hallway. Suddenly I awaken in darkness. Had I blacked out? What happened? My eyes begin to readjust and I am in a dark cul-de-sac. Sheets of plastic hang from the ceiling and large chains snake across the floor. As I stand up and stumble out, I see that dessicated corpses are hanging between the sheets, strung up by their feet and contorted in pained expressions. Overwhelming fatigue slams me. I slump against a wall. All I want to do is sleep and give up. In the back of my mind, I know that it is the malevolent force of the spirits. I resist, pushing back their influence, kindling the urge to fight and destroy them.

After I regain my faculties, I try to seek out my companions. Terrible sounds come from the chamber beyond; my companions are being utterly destroyed. One escapes and stumbles into me. He is shell-shocked, recounting the horrors in the chamber. We are no match for the force. We flee, running as fast as we can.

Dream Two:

I am in a large manor. There are 3 floors, at least, in this massive place. This manor should be safe and shelter me from the disaster happening outside. Details are sparse and speculative. Was it a chemical weapon attack? A biological weapon? Something deadly and dangerous regardless. Others have fled to this building for protection too. As I begin to put the pieces together, I hear the people downstairs conspiring to betray and attack me. Don’t they realize that I’m trying to save them? I intentionally allow myself to fall into their trap so I can warn them. After much convincing, they realize that I am here to help them and band us together again the dangers outside. Showing them the view outside the window, a shambling mass of zombies is swiftly descending upon the property. I rush outside to reinforce the gates and construct a barricade.

A brick wall encloses the estate but has a weak iron-filigree gate. Running out of building materials to construct the barricade, I begin piling corpses onto it, bracing the gate. There is still a weak point on the right side of the gate and I know it’s only a matter of time until it falls. I begin to equip myself with weapons; it’s going to be a hell of a fight. Beginning with a baseball bat as my main weapon, I pack a large-bladed hand axe, a hand-saw, and a shotgun into my gear. A tidal-wave of zombies surges against the gate, breaking down the weak point. Recklessly, I charge into the fray, hacking into the crowd. I wade through them, finding myself in a make-shift carnival. Towering above me is a closed-down amusement ride. Nearby is a water-ice (an east-coast American regional dessert akin to sorbet) machine. I operate the machine and begin to make a batch while I wait for the next wave of zombies.