Shamanic Illness as Initiation

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Diary of Drawings

This is a drawing I made in the mid 1980′s.

During the two and half years that Saturn transited my Eighth House of love and death, I went a little mad you might say.

It wasn’t insanity or anything, it was because of psychic attack.

I had been in a deep relationship with a man who was separated from his wife. If there is such a thing as a Soul Mate, we were it. We openly talked about ourselves that way. I had a vision of him shortly before we met. During my daily meditation practice, I saw him falling out of the sun towards me. When we met, it was an instant attraction. Numerologist Tania Gabrielle would probably look at my 44-8 birth numbers and call it Fate.

But the estranged  wife wasn’t having any of it.  When she found out he was seeing me, she decided wanted him back and went on the warpath with me.

There was a point at which she got really aggressive and started to play games. I was a pretty otherworldly and therefore naive in the way that otherworldly, ungrounded people are. I had nothing against her anyway — this guy and I were Soul Mates. What was I supposed to do?

When the fallout started, I was kicked out of the apartment by my room mate. I moved into a house closer to where my boyfriend lived and spent most of my time at his place. She started coming around. Next thing I knew, I fell into such a deep depression that my personality actually changed. I even looked weird to myself surrounded in this horrible dark vortex.

I always drew pictures and started doing that for hours at a time instead of studying — I was in University then. I mostly drew images of this guy and me in boats and in towers. I began a series of myself with antlers on my head. The drawing at the top is one of the survivors.

Its me looking into a mirror and seeing  antlers on my head.  Before that, my boyfriend had told me I looked like a deer. Maybe it was auto-suggestion, but I do have a Capricorn Moon and associate this self image with that.

Dreamtime

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At one point I became very ill and had to go to the hospital with anemia. I was a vegetarian, but also very depleted in other ways.

I became obsessive compulsive, especially with the drawings. I just didn’t stop. Drawing is a wonderful thing, but I felt like I had a motor in my head — maybe I had become autistic or something. It was just weird.

I had been a regular meditator since I was seventeen, and with this boyfriend, had gotten into Tibetan Buddhism and had been initiated into a few saints whose names I can’t remember any more. One was a purification saint. I have always been a great visualizer, and had built up images of these saints in my mind that were very powerful. I was really good at meditation.

So imagine how it felt when I couldn’t do it any more. All I saw was a swirling black energy that made me sea sick. I even went back to Massachusetts to visit my family and it was still just as bad. I was always nauseous and a light- headed, and very confused.

My dreams were  violent. I was always being chopped up into pieces. My body parts were scattered all over the place. I had a series of these  dreams and I drew pictures of those and burned them because I was afraid I might be murdered or something.

Then one night, I dreamed my body parts were scattered over the snow and it was very bloody. Some Inuits came up the slope and wrapped all my body parts in a seal skin. Then they put me inside a sweat house — I can still remember lying on a bench near a wonderful steamy rock pile. I stayed there for a long time.

When I was healed, I dreamed all the time that I swam under the sea with the seals. I was a kind of mermaid.  I drew the seal under the boat that my boyfriend and I were on all the time in my drawings. I let the seal guide me through my emotional turmoil and show me what I needed to know.

Psychic Attack

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Our relationship suffered because my boyfriend  just wouldn’t deal with what was going on. He was too weak, and they had a six year old daughter that he felt guilty about.

I began to isolate. I was not a fighter. I still hate to fight, but have learned since that sometimes I have to stand up for myself. But I do hate conflict.

One day I was in my room and took a break from drawing. I wanted to meditate. I remember so clearly sitting in front of my altar and seeing the black vortex spinning all around me. I also saw all these spirits, very flat with triangular heads — a bit dog-like and cartoonish. There were hundreds of then all over the room. I felt sick as one of them stood behind and was tying something around my neck. Seeing them, I said to myself, “I am going to push them away with my light.”

I focused really hard on the light inside of me and sent it out until it was all around me. I continued to expand, obliterating all those little dog things, intending to fill the entire room.  Suddenly there was a kind of explosion, and it was as if the sun had come into the room!  Golden light was streaming everywhere and in the midst of the light were these eyes, black rimmed and compassionate, and face like Christ, though I am not if it was He or some older God. The golden light kept pulsating all around me, erasing all of the spirits, filling the room and healing me.

Deer Lady

It was after that I began to draw the deer lady pictures.

My relationship bit the dust. She was a lawyer and he didn’t stand a chance. Exhausted  ( and I haven’t even told you the half of it) I bowed out and concentrated on school.

This was the 80′s. Lots of books and courses were being given on the West Coast especially. I was also living near some of the most powerful Indian Tribes in North America. Powerful for magic that is. Gradually I learned about Shamanism and was told by one of the Salish Elders here that I had had a Shamanic sickness. All the dismemberment dreams were about taking me apart so I would be put back together in a certain way. The Seal medicine was help me to flow in the sea of the emotions — I also say the unconscious.  The Inuits are at the North Pole where me spirit came into the earth’s atmosphere before birth. They  still have a very strong Shamanic culture.

I see the Capricorn Moon at work as well. The fish-goat who climbs to the top of the mountain and dives deep into the ocean, is very much like the selkie seal lady and the deer lady I became. The Indian gave me a name: Whiteswan, a spirit  bird who transits sea and sky. I also believe that the psychic attack forced me  to strengthen my power, strengthen my light, because that was all it took to make the attack stop and fill me with a vision of golden light and the presence of God.

Two years later I was drafted into the healing profession and have been doing that ever since. Though the seal medicine healed me, it is the deer that I feel is the most like me and images of people with horns and antlers cast a kind of spell over me. I suppose I am more sure-footed that way.

Chesca Potter

Chesca Potter

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Are Past Life Memories Real?

A history of recurring dreams

Every winter, from 1986-1990, I relived a past life  so vividly, I cannot doubt that my prior existence as another version of myself was real.

The theme of these memories had played a role in my life since childhood.

I was killed in the Wounded Knee Massacre of December, 1890.

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, by Dee Brown, was published in  1970. I first saw this book on display on the front desk at the Leicester Public  Library and instantly reached for it and checked  it out. I was suddenly immersed in the story of Western Tribes and their terrible fate at the hands of the U.S. government. Since part of my family were Indians, it took hold of my imagination and never let go.

Time magazine reviewed the book saying:
“In the last decade or so, after almost a century of saloon art and horse operas that romanticized Indian fighters and white settlers, Americans have been developing a reasonably acute sense of the injustices and humiliations suffered by the Indians. But the details of how the West was won are not really part of the American consciousness … Dee Brown, Western historian and head librarian at the University of Illinois, now attempts to balance the account. With the zeal of an IRS investigator, he audits U.S. history’s forgotten set of books. Compiled from old but rarely exploited sources plus a fresh look at dusty Government documents, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee tallies the broken promises and treaties, the provocations, massacres, discriminatory policies and condescending diplomacy.”

Dreams

I began to have recurring dreams that I was a white woman with very pale blond hair. I am looking at a large rock with a dry, twisted tree growing out of it. I scream and start crying. I know that behind that rock is a dead Indian man who had just been shot. I wake up.

Of course, Westerns were all over the television when I was growing up, and a young girl’s fantasies could easily run in the direction but of this dream. But this had no element of wish fulfillment. It was tragic. And it wasn’t the end.

Shamanic Illness

My Saturn Return was bearable, even though it is in the 7th House. But my 8th House Saturn Transit was from Hell. It is a Scorpio House for me and Venus, my chart ruler, is in there in Sagittarius. OUCH!

This was the most intense, darkly Scorpionic time I have lived through yet. I won’t say why,  (except that it involved a man — what else?) but I was subjected to terrible, unrelenting  psychic attack.
I was shocked and horrified that my one reliable defense, my powerful abilities in meditation were useless. I could not still my mind, but was surrounded with a black vortex that swirled around me and made me feel oppressed and ill. I still remember an entity putting something around my neck as if to strangle me from behind. The person who was doing this was indulging in some pretty nasty thought forms!

That obvious attempt to kill me on the astral plane woke me up to the kind of danger I was in, so  I sat down and said “I am going to push this darkness away with my light.” I began to focus on the golden  light in my heart, and willed it to  grow and grow  until all the entities, and the vortex were pushed away. Suddenly I was immersed in a sea of streaming golden light. It was as if I had gone into the sun! And in the midst of this molten light were two eyes and face like Christ, ( or Albrecht Durer lol! )

Afterwards, the attack energies were gone, and I began to have Shamanic dreams.

The recurring dream from my childhood  began again.  The same rock, the tree. my screams and the knowledge that an Indian man had been shot and lay behind the rock. It wasn’t because of the book this time. Maybe it was because I had Indian friends and was around them and on the reservations a lot. But the dream coming in the midst of visions and spiritual visitations, gave it it more significance for me. And the fact that I remembered it from so long ago.

One Who Was Lost Returns

In 1986, I began to work with a spiritual healer as a form of therapy. I had a terrible family life as a child and have had to periodically clear stuff away to be free of them and move on. The healing involved very deep kundalini yoga practices and I took to it like a fish to water.

It was about six months into this work, in December,  that I was meditating in the living room, when a man appeared before me. He was so real, I could touch him! He was a Plains Indian man with very long, thick chestnut brown hair and big, doe eyes. Weird part was, was that the lower part of his face was sealed over with a kind of filmy bandage  as if to erase his mouth. He was lanky, and brown, and wore skins — very 19th century looking. Telepathically, he sent me a message. “Stop trying to find me. I am not in a body. But I look after you.”

Words cannot convey how weird this was.  What he said hit me like a club, for I knew that he was the dead Indian man behind the rock in my recurring dreams.

Four Years of Memories

After that,  every December, I got one more piece of the story.
The second year told me I had been captured by the Lakota Tribe and had married this man. I had a feeling he was Cheyenne for some reason. I can’t explain that.  We were very happy together. White men didn’t like captured white women being happy with Indians, so they killed him.

The third year,  I found out that one of my clients had been in the cavalry unit that was at Wounded Knee and had seen me being killed. We made eye contact at that moment, and out of that we had some karma (for want of a better word.) to work out.  When I told him this, he said he knew it was true. It was like something fell into place about our relationship and his perception of me.

The last year was  in December, 1990.

As a person with Iroquois heritage, I was a subscriber to Akwesasne Notes, a tribal newspaper printed on the reservation in upstate New York. I came home one day and found it on my doorstep. For some reason, I didn’t want to touch it. I picked it up like  a dead mouse and threw in into a corner of the kitchen counter.

Later that day, I sat meditation and had a vision of men and horses riding to the mass grave  on Pine Ridge where the bodies of those slain in the Wounded Knee massacre were buried. They did  a ceremony during which I saw a ghost come out of the grave and come back to me. My spirit  had been trapped there, and had been returned to me.

Later on, I was able to finally able to open that edition of Akwesasne Notes. It was all about the Wounded Knee massacre with its classic photo of Big Foot dead in the snow. There was an article about several spiritual leaders from Pine Ridge riding on horseback to the mass grave of the victims to do a  healing ceremony for those who were buried there. It was the one-hundred year anniversary of the Wounded Knee massacre.

I wrote to them about what had happened to me but they never responded. The next year I went to South Dakota to visit the grave and place a tobacco tie on the fence that surrounds it. I realized I had been afraid to go there before that. I still don’t really like to talk about this, but I think the information about past life memories might be of value , rather than what the memories are about.

As part of that trip, my friend and I drove to Pine Ridge to bring clothes and shoes to the people on the reservation, for winters are terrible there. I was shocked to know how much the whites hated the Indians and how much they exploited Lakota culture to make money. Hypocrisy or cynicism? Probably both.

Driving through the Dakotas caused me physical pain — psychic, physical pain, and heaviness.

Echoes

In 1992, I was at meeting in support of Leonard Peltier. There was a chance him might be let of prison on parole. Of course that was sabotaged in the most horrible way.  I connected with an Indian guy who so resembled the man who visited me from beyond the veil that I had to speak with him.
He was part of the Peace and Dignity Run. Native people  from Alaska to  Argentina to Mexico City running through Indian lands, collecting feathers on the way that were  attached to long staffs, to meet for four nights of ceremonies at Tenochtihuacan ( Pyramids of the Moon) on Columbus Day. It was five hundred years since Columbus invaded the Americas looking for slaves and gold, and this was an empowering way for Native people to protest its celebration.

I was there at the Pyramids of the Moon  as, under a full moon, tribal members from many lands and cultures, worked their ancient rites together in that place. It was an amazing experience to be there.

I find I still question the idea of past lives in the sense that  a discreet and singular personality goes on for several lives. But I shouldn’t. I think these experiences are a good indication that Past lives are real.

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Who are the Horned Ones?

Those of us with antlers, those of us with horns…I saw myself in many dreams with the antlers of a stag. I shall explore the mysteries of horns and those who wear them in the spirit world.

I was never afraid of the dark. Even when he stood in the crack of light between the door frame and the door, silhouetted, strange, bent as when a wild animal rises on it hind legs to look at something higher than the ground.  Perhaps I dreamed, yet it did not seem so, for my eyes were open and I saw him clearly. Tall, feral, dark, and stretching out form the top of his head, the long antlers of a stag.

He only ever came to look at me, gazing with eyes of green fire. When I reached out to touch him, to see if he was as real as he appeared, my gesture was slow and, not stirring a particle of air, more silent than the night. It was then he always disappeared. I remember once, missing contact with my Faery visitor, I fell, slowly, dreamlike to the floor. The sensation of the cold floor against my cheek stays with me still, implanting this memory in my conscious mind forever. And as in a dream, I floated up, weightlessly, back into bed to turn away and dream again a dream I don’t recall.

This spirit returned to me a few times and it was always the same. We lived very close to the woods in Massachusetts, a place where Nathaniel Hawthorne found evidence of old Pagan worship still practiced by English colonists. I have since learned that it is traditional for the Spirit of the Forest to appear in the shape of a man/stag. Even when we moved, we lived still upon the woods, and he came to me there again. I am not sure ha has ever left me.

Later, when I was 29, I was going through a very bad time with a Saturn return in Scorpio in my Seventh House. Everything died in those two years. I was living in Seattle, nowhere near the woods, and had not encountered my spiritual visitor since I moved there.  I suffered what I later learned was a Shamanic illness, characterized by great debilitation, depression, obsession with wheels turning in my mind, soundlessly, constantly, all countered by strange initiatory dreams and visions. I dreamed of the stag, running through the trees. I followed, I rode upon his back and felt more alive than I ever had. I drew a lot of pictures. Of my dreams, of the lover who I lost, of boats, and the sea,  and one of me looking into a mirror in which my reflection wore the antlers of a stag.

A whole series of these images grew out of my depression. One in particular was prophetic: I am sitting in an underground cavern at a dressing table with a round mirror on it. I am wearing antlers and looking at my reflection also wearing antlers.  Many years later, when I studied with R.J.Stewart and his Underworld Faery, I return to that underground chamber and the Horned God would erupted into my life with a power I barely survived.

Horns

In this image of the Nine of Pentacles from my Holy Grail Tarot, the leafy, antlered crown of the Faery Queen mirrors the bare winter branches of the trees.  Nine is the number of the moon. The setting is under deep snow, for Pentacles are the  symbol of Earth whose power resides in the North. In the mystic North is night, is snow, is the dark moon, the Underworld, ice, the mirror lake, the stones, white animals, and those with horns and hoofs. She wears a triple horned crown, and carries a cornucopia, the single horn hollowed out and pointing to Earth. It is full of harvested apples, fruit of the Goddess, the Faery Queen, that hides the five-pointed star within.

The Earth is the vessel of plenty, the provider of all we need. everything we have, everything we are, comes from the Earth.
Horned animals sacred to the north are the stag, boar, goat, reindeer.
The stag is a sacred animal whose antlers reflect the World Tree whose roots are in the Heavens and whose branches open down into the UnderWorld as when he looks at his reflection in the lake. The stag is thus a mediator between the Heaven and Earth. As he sheds his antlers in the Spring, and then grows them back, he is also a spirit of death and rebirth. The star road of the Milky Way belongs to Night and therefore belongs to the North and Earth, and  thus to Death, for all Earthly forms are mortal. The Milky Way curves towards the sunrise of the East, place of Birth. The stag dances on this starry bridge as the mediator between Death and new Life.
Duality is expressed in the two horns and the cloven hooves of the stag. Duality expresses  opposites, male/ female, dark/light, above/ below, etc. Without these opposites there would be no Other, would be no sexuality, therefore no creation, would be no consciousness of Self. The three is the result of the pairing of opposites, that which comes together and multiplies has given birth. The single horn of the Unicorn represents purity because the single is whole and impenetrable. A single horn is one within itself, inviolate, virgin. This perhaps explains why there are no more Unicorns, for the Earth is a creation of dual forces. Without the two there can be no three, can be no birth. The one stands alone and is, in the earthly sense, uncreative, spiritual, renunciate.


If you would like to see my Tarot of the Holy Grail, please visit
www.whiteswan-tarot.com Book of Visions: Clairvoyant Tarot

I also discuss the Hunt of the Unicorn Tapestries and the 12th century Courts of Love at www.themysteriousdomain.com. The Unicorn in Captivity above is from those beautiful woven works.

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