Today I want to tell you about a place that’s very special to me. Which gives me an opportunity to explain another shamanic concept – places of power. And don’t worry, today’s blog includes a short story about a journey I did out there earlier this week. 😉
It’s important to understand that when shamanic practitioners talk about ‘power’, it isn’t some sort of power over others. It’s about powering up our own internal energy to gain wisdom and healing, so we can help do the same for our clients.
There are places scattered all over the Earth where the connection between our ordinary reality and non-ordinary spirit reality are stronger. Where ‘the veil is thin.’ Mine? It’s a small valley with a waterfall deep in the Canadian Rockies.
I say ‘mine’ not because I own it. That’d just be silly. Rather, it’s a place of power that seems to have adopted me.
I remember the first time I hiked out to this valley to see the waterfall. It was late in the afternoon, I was on my own, and there was just one other couple out there when I arrived. I sat on a rock and enjoyed the view while they took some pictures, but it was getting late as they left, so I turned to go as well.
And then this thought popped in my head – if this other couple was leaving, I’d have the valley all to myself if I stayed. An opportunity to connect with nature all by myself. Yes! I remember spinning about and running back to the waterfall like a carefree 5-year-old, huge grin on my face! 😊 Looking back, I think my childlike innocence got noticed.
I think I made a friend that day.
It took about a year before I made my way back to this valley (keep in mind it’s buried in snow half the year). It was late September, the vibrant golds and yellows of autumn filling the mountains, the snow already starting to fall. Given the lateness of the season, I was yet again the only one hiking into the valley. Just the way I like it.
So, I was sitting on a large, smooth granite outcrop at the base of the waterfall while eating a snack. And then I caught something out of the corner of my eye, a little way back down the valley. A black shape… for a second it looked like a black deer running away from me… then… no… it was a raven flying straight at me, just a few feet off the ground!
The raven swung around my back and then hovered in a wind gust just above and to my right. Our eyes locked as it hovered there. I remember uttering “oh, wow” over and over. The raven was so low as it hovered, if I’d stood up, I could have touched it. And then it completed its circle around me and started flying away behind me. I looked down for just a second as I stood to turn and watch it go… but it had disappeared.
I have never, before or since, seen a raven in the valley. There’s nothing large enough for ravens to eat. Heck, there’s barely any animal life up in this valley. But it’s worth noting that I have several shamanic connections with ravens, including Raven being one of my power animals.
I think something was having a closer look at me that day.
The third year I went out to the valley on a statutory holiday, so it was uncharacteristically full of people. But I didn’t mind, just happy to be out there again. I was sitting on the same smooth granite outcrop, portions of the waterfall coming down to either side of me, while I ate my snack – bison jerky and jalapeno-cheddar potato chips. The lunch of champions.
In some traditions it’s appropriate to leave a food offering to the spirits, a gesture of respect. So, I took one of the larger chips from my bag and placed it beside me on the granite while I whispered a few words to the spirits of the valley to let them know the offering was for them. I looked back into my chip bag, snagged a couple for myself, and looked back down… the chip I’d left was FREAKIN GONE! It had only been a few seconds!
Remember, there are no little mammals begging for food up at the waterfall. There are no little birds. There was a light breeze, but it would have blown the chip straight ahead of me where I would have seen it. And you’ll have to trust me. I. Looked. Everywhere. And couldn’t find it. It had disappeared from right beside me in a matter of seconds!
Believe what you will, but I giddily realized that my offering had been accepted.
Since then, I’ve connected with the Spirit of the Valley, which itself is an amalgamation of the many individual nature spirits that dwell there. It’s not a ‘compassionate spirit’ like the ones you’ve read about in my blog so far. It’s a nature spirit connected with the physical reality of our world.
Just like with people, you’ll meet all types of nature spirits. Some are friendly and kind, some not so much. They might like one person and be annoyed by the next. Lucky for me, I’ve developed a friendship with this nature spirit.
But I also promised you a short story about the journey I did for myself out in the valley earlier this week. Here you go!
Alone in the valley yet again, I settled down on the granite outcrop and closed my eyes. And found myself in the non-ordinary reality version of the valley. It looked identical to the physical valley. Except for the 20-foot-tall spirit being lumbering towards me. 😊
The Spirit of the Valley, as I call him. He looks like he’s made of a mix of granite boulders, grass and living tree trunks. From a shamanic perspective, everything has a spark of spirit consciousness in it. Every plant and animal, every rock, every drop of water. And the Spirit of the Valley is their collective representative in this valley.
As he reached me, he hunkered down and leaned on the granite outcrop, looking for all the world like a bartender ready to listen to one of their patrons.
“What can I do for you, my friend?” his cheerful voice rumbled towards me.
“I’ve been struggling with some strife at work for months now,” I explained, talking about my mundane day job. “It’s really been stressing me out, even though I’m trying to make things work. Is it worth staying?”
I didn’t really say more than that. One of the handy things about spirits is that they can read us like an open book. See what we’re thinking, and our memories. Which is great for getting nuanced answers to questions. But you have to get used to the fact there’s really no such thing as privacy in the spirit world (don’t worry, the spirits never divulge my client’s personal thoughts to me 😉).
“Hmmm, I see…” the Spirit of the Valley said as he stood. Then he waved his arm, drawing my view out to the valley around us.
“This whole valley is full of strife,” he said. And I was filled with an understanding – different types of plants were competing for space, bugs competing for food, even the waterfall competing with the rock in its way.
“But it creates a harmonious whole, don’t you think?” the spirit said, beaming at me like a proud father. And I had to agree, the valley was incredibly peaceful and beautiful. Even with all that strife. Maybe even because of it?
“What you need to do is find your still point,” he said, looking down at me intently.
“A still point within me?” I asked, thinking of the stillness we can find within ourselves during meditation.
“Sort of,” he replied, “but not all still points are equal. You must find your optimal still point amongst the strife. Then it won’t really matter. The strife will just be noise.”
It’s an interesting distinction. He explained that it’s both finding the still point within myself as well as being in a certain place / role within my organization. The right combination of the two will let me make my optimal contribution to the ‘harmonious whole’, and then the strife that’s been stressing me out will just be in the background. I’ll be aware, but grounded so that it won’t really bother me. Maybe in those circumstances I’d even see it as part of the creative energy needed to grow.
“I love that idea, but how do I find my optimal still point?” I asked.
“You’ll know when you’ve found it based on the feeling in your body,” the Spirit of the Valley told me, pointing a huge finger at my torso.
Before the journey ended, the Spirit of the Valley also gave me a healing to help alleviate some of my stress. As he reached out with his right arm, branches shot forth from his fingers and formed a sphere around me as he lifted me into the air. And then I heard a low humming reverberate through me. It started to grow in pitch and intensity. For a second it almost sounded like an air-raid siren! And then… it resolved into that THX sound they used to play before movies. Which was remarkably calming.
The branches around me receded, and I dropped back to the ground. Then flames started shooting out of the sleeves of my red coat that I’m always wearing in my journeys. Damn it looked cool. 😎 I don’t understand exactly what the Spirit of the Valley did, but I certainly felt better.
With that, he lumbered away, telling me to enjoy the valley for as long as I wanted. Which I did.
I hope you enjoyed learning about my place of power. It really is special to me. In a way, it’s like my home. It’s been a pleasure to share a bit of it with you.
If you’re ever walking somewhere and you notice a little buzz, a lightness to your step, stop and feel into it. Maybe it’s a place that’s calling to you.
Until next time,
Eric, your shamanic guide… into the unknown.