About ten years ago, I went to a healing session with a sound therapist and mentioned I was curious to see if I had any guides who wanted to turn up to work with me. I asked the question lightly, knowing she had some awareness of working with such things.
At the time I thought I probably had a basic awareness of such things myself. I had already been working with a Samurai who turned up around 2003 and never left. He would stand to the left hand side of me and slightly to the front and felt like a very protective, earthing presence. He had a kind of sub-bass frequency that I could tune into when I needed it. Especially when I was feeling ungrounded. He helped move my bodywork into a new level of depth, presence and clarity. I could ask for his advice and he’d show me things.
I thought I knew Kung Fu...
Anyway, about 2 days after that sound therapy session, I had what I suspect the medical world might describe as a psychosis. Or maybe a ‘nervous breakdown’.
Something suddenly cracked open in me and I had no tools for closing it or putting myself back together again.
One afternoon, my bedroom was suddenly PACKED with spirit activity - all sorts. Crawling and shrieking with beings of all imaginable dimensions and not all benevolent.
It turns out the session had been kind of wildly 'effective' in terms of my request, but it had not been grounded or protective of my nervous system in any way. At the time I knew nothing of nervous system regulation or what titration meant. I had a contemplative practice and lots of somatic tools, which were brilliant, but no lineages to hold me in these radically different kinds of conscious states. I had no reference for what what happening. I was lost.
For about three days, I couldn’t work out anything - when it was dark or light, when it was time to sleep, or eat, or even how to dress myself. It was frightening to go to sleep and when I did sleep, it didn’t feel safe. I didn’t know who I was or how to make it stop. It was so bad, that several times, I thought I might need to get myself sectioned. The whole world was suddenly upside down and it was UTTERLY TERRIFYING.
Interestingly, though I have never had anything similar happen before or since, a little voice in me somewhere was telling me that it was something I needed to learn how to work with, rather than something I had to make go away.
Thank god for that little voice. .
So, far from 'knowing Kung Fu', It turns out, I was profoundly naive and had almost no tools to navigate such a thing.
So in a state of desperation, I set about finding some tools - even though I had no clue where to look.
A witchy friend of mine provided the first anchor. To my face she said ‘Rachel, you are the keeper of this realm!! You need to STAND YOUR GROUND! Tell everyone to get out of your bedroom!!’. Mean while, behind the scenes, she confessed to me later, that she had been very concerned about my mental health.
So, that night, I went into my bedroom and I said out loud “OK NOW EVERYONE - BEAT IT!!’
I said to my Samurai, “You can stay, but everyone else, GO BACK TO WHERE YOU CAME FROM... N O W !!!” I know I sounded like a crazy person - well - let's face it, I WAS a crazy person. But at the time, it felt like I was saving my own life.
It instantly got A LOT quieter. and more bearable.
I couldn’t believe how powerful it was to simply stand my ground.
That night sleep was a lot easier, but still floundering, I asked my sleep to show me some more teachers who could help me with this.
The next day, I woke up with 2 names. Both unexpected. One - a good friend, Francis Briers with shamanic training. The second - an ex-therapist who I trusted. Both it turns out knew exactly how to support me, in equally relevant but very different ways.
I was shown how to work with journeying and how to ground guides in physical objects. How to discern non - benevolent presences and how to choose where to place my focus. I learnt how prepare to enter and return safely. I also grew language to begin to speak about it.
As I began to work with my new tools. sanity and peace of mind quickly returned and I began to be able to work with what was happening.
Ever since that time, I have sought out tools, teachers and trainings that can teach me some new aspect of how to ground this work in practical, healthy and safe ways. I’ve been exploring how to do this work in ways that honour somatic sovereignty and from a place of a well resourced nervous system. Comprehensive Resource Model is one of the best tools I have encountered for this. And I have enormous respect for the work of Daniel Foor at Ancestral Medicine, who's work in ritual safety i experience as second to none.
As I grew literacy with this and learned about nervous system health and trauma education, I became more and more able to see that it was possible to work with this stuff in a much more resourced and simple way - that took the drama and the danger out of it entirely.
These days it has become an ordinary and very precious part of my daily life and integrated into all I do. It isn’t over-whelming at all - more of a casual ongoing part of the conversational nature of reality. And these days I feel comfortable and confident to hold others in their own explorations too.
The main things I’ve learnt that I wish I knew 10 years ago are:
You don't have to go through what I went through to begin to grow a relationship with Spirit. This kind of work, I believe is in our species nature, many of us have simply forgotten how to go there and work in this way. Everyone can do it and we can learn to do it safely, kindly and respectfully.
The next Monthly Medicine Circle (Thursday 23rd February) deals in exactly this territory and supports you to meet a healthy, benevolent guide in a supported, safe and nervous system friendly way.
To find out more, click here.
Photo Cyrus by Geran De Klerk
writings on states of being, being in a body and being human.