Tuesday, December 18, 2012
The Web of Light
(This post is in reference to something that recently happened to me regarding my Spirit-Work with a few souls of children that came when I offered aid for those lost in the massacre at Sandy Hook the other day. If reading about this still disturbs you, I won't be referencing it too heavily but likely it will speak of some parts briefly. Just a warning.)
I'm sure I'm not alone in saying as a Spirit-walker, I was a mix between astounded and fucking disgusted/shocked at once when I heard the news about Sandy Hook. I read about it when the first body counts were low, maybe 16-17 at that point. The more I read the more I couldn't believe humans had finally sunk to an astoundingly new low to take violence out on new, young, clean souls that hadn't wronged anybody. Especially for a Spirit-walker, the death of young soul is fucking heartbreaking. Everything about it is just horrible. Having to walk a child across the plains of the dead is terrible in itself, but wrenching a young soul away from parents, family, etc before they had more than a tenuous attachment to the world--that's the real heart-breaking part. Because believe it on not, child souls are usually just fine to move on. The real tragedy is the loss of potential of the soul, and the hole in the hearts of those that knew and loved the soul. The loss of innocence shattered by a horrible moment of action. The fact none of the surviving children will ever be able to forget this horrifying event, let alone the town who must now turn to comforting their families that have lost.
I bring this up because part of my Shamanic work is disaster relief for estranged souls coming out of various situations. I offered up aid for the Japan tsunami/earthquake disaster, and again recently for the tsunami that happened off the Arctic, and the other day I was offering aid for shit happening in South Asia (both to animals and people). I feel the need to offer to do things for this souls, should they desire it, because I have to do SOMETHING. I have to, in some small way, help them be okay, should they desire that. It's the bane of the person meant to be a healer. You want to, in some way, save everybody, even though you can't. But you sure as hell have to try anyway, despite how heartbreaking the work can be. Parents shouldn't have to bury children; people shouldn't have to take children across the divide. So it goes.
This is how I describe those of us called to aid Spirits on our paths, in some way or another. I like to say the work of medicine stops when the heart does, and that's when our work begins. When doctors are putting away the tools, we're picking up our ritual aids, and preparing for the final work. I also say, to Spirits recently dead, it's as if they are standing on an island in the middle of a dark, roiling sea at night. Picture the black waves. The sea is choppy and fierce and the Spirit is confused. Every direction looks the same--where do they go? But those of us with sensitivity to that world (perceived or not) shine out on the dark sea like a serious of lighthouses, bright spots on the dark sea of humanity. The Spirit is pulled toward as like a lost ship at night, and this is why we attract Spirits from all manner of places that need help. Once the Spirit reaches the first lighthouse, they can see another. And another. And if you looked at the dark sea from above--all of these Spirit-walkers together, on this dark background--you would see they join together, and overlap, and become something more. They become a web of light, a web that refuses to let Spirits wander alone in the dark, if they be lost and in need of aid.
This is not some noble purpose to be proud of--it's necessary to do the Work, just like healing, and understand somebody has to do it, so you do, because you can, and your conscience won't let you sleep knowing you could have and didn't. It means spending late nights talking spirits down because they always find you 3 in the morning and they're scared and confused and more lost than you, and having a supply of sigil-inscribed candles on call just in case there's a sudden death near you, and dropping everything to go make sure a family friend that just went is okay, and in my case agreeing to emergency reiki because someone is really close to losing it and isn't sure if they can go on like this. It's often as much work for the living as it is work for the Spirit.
My Work is usually with the non-human--animals and land spirits that I work with on a global scale for the benefit of balance and everything. But Shamans were never meant to practice in a vacuum--if you think they were we're not talking about Shamanism. Your service was first, to the community, and that included your Spirits. Healing, cursing, journey work, these were all feats for the good of balance in the community. So I feel disgusted at the thought of sitting back and watching when human-made massacre occurs when I know I COULD be helping. So I offered my assistance to the young victims of the recent tragedy, because I knew I could. And 3 of them came through, and I took their hands in my hands and I walked them the long way to wherever they were going. And that really fucking struck me. I don't work with people often--because it ruins me. That sort of Work is demanding, and empathetic, and strikes you on a deep level, because you're both humans. Non-humans just function on a different level.
But what struck me even more--is that I wasn't the only one to have offered my help. I went on Tumblr and it was a pile of posts from other witches/Workers I follow describing what they did for the recent victims, or offering prayers or words of support or energy sending for the victims and their families. The outpouring from the community--the global community, not just Pagans and Spirit-workers--was, and still continues to be, amazing. And that is what inspired this post. Every single person--pagan or not, directly called to be a Spirit-worker or not--every single person contributes to building and strengthening the web of light I see when I help Spirits across the dark sea.
So this post is a thank-you to those of us who contribute in some small way to disaster areas as part of our Work. Of course this also includes those who don't do this as part of their work but contribute to disaster relief funds, or helping those affected by disaster of any sort in any way. I include people who just send messages of support or prayers for surviving members affected by tragedy: I consider that important fucking Work as well. I feel as though it's important to speak about what we can do in the wake of disaster situations, as Spirit workers, witches, and pagans alike, and to acknowledge that this is a path thing. It's not a fun job, or a glamorous shiny awesome job, but like all jobs, it has to be done for the good of all, by somebody. And the ones doing these jobs everyday are often quiet about it. So you don't know who's keeping the wheel smoothly running. (Think of that the next time to go to insult somebody's path for being different from yours.)
I don't want to turn this into a post on HOW to work with crossing humans over, because it's a delicate thing that's easy to fuck up and really should only be attempted if you know what you're doing and you've been asked directly to do so, but I will explain a few helpful pointers when working with humans in general I have found helpful.
-When working with human spirits, be mindful of religion. If you choose to look like a flaming Celtic thing, a Christian is going to be extremely concerned. Appearing as something like an angel or catering to their beliefs helps you to establish a bond without immediately sending them running. Some humans are over it and don't care and just want to move on. But always think about individuality.
-It's about the soul. It's not about you. You're not doing some awesome job nobody else can do in crossing those that need your help. You're helping spirits that need it, and you can do the job, so you do. It's like volunteer work.
-It's always about consent. Don't cross a Spirit without consent. I only cross humans that literally come into my house and say, look, I need your help. Chances are if you're meant to work with the dead spirits will find YOU. Don't even send energy to a crisis area without the consent of the Spirits, unless you send it with the ingrained idea "If it should be accepted," so the person has an option to reject this energy. It's not our place to decide if somebody needs energy--we can only offer.
-If a spirit asks you for help and you can't do the job, or you have no training or feel weird, that's fine. Direct them to somebody who can. It's better to admit you want to help and you're nervous than trying and messing up, because crossing is NOT something you want to mess up.
-Always work from a place of compassion. Death, especially in such recent events as this, is usually not a fun experience if you're being asked to do Crossing work. Be mindful the Spirit may exhibit a range of emotions--anger, fear, anxiety, and it may be directed at you, because there's nobody else. Don't take it personally. You are the facilitator to this spirit. It's your job to let them do that for a while, then gently move them on. Always work from a place of kindness.
-Offer your help without demanding it be taken. This is a byline to consent. When I work for disaster areas I open my altar and my room and offer it to lost souls that could use some help from me. This way it gives those Spirits an op-out option. If they don't need help, or don't want to come to me specifically, nobody feels slighted. Spirits have the right to come, or not, and should they come, to choose who they want to guide them. Always remember this.
And once again--a thank you to all of those who help in tragedy relief efforts. That includes everyone from first responders to "mundane" therapists and those who directly support victims, to people far away sending money, support and energy work from a distance. I promise you--we do make a difference. I see it on my spirit journeys. Never think we collectively don't.
And to those souls who still wander--may you find rest under the stars, and peace.