Shamanism and Frying Pans
I want to talk about shamanic practices and periods for a minute. Yes, periods. The menstrual kind, not the punctuation.
Even if you don’t get a period, for medical reasons, hormonal reasons, age reasons or just because reasons, this info is still for you!
Recently, I had a breakthrough in the area of periods. My own, to be specific. And here is the lowdown. I used shamanic practices to heal (i.e. get rid of) my PMS symptoms. For real! And even though it has only been a few months, it has been so dramatic that I feel like I need to share this, because you can do this too.
Here’s the background story. For the first 20 years of my life, I had easy, pain-free periods. Granted, they always lasted a full 7 days (!!!), but they were gentle and then went away until the next month. All of that changed about 5 years ago. Instead of my normal, gentle period, I started to experience some of the classic, Super Sucky PMS symptoms like headaches that make you want to chop your own head off, breast tenderness that makes you want to murder anyone who touches you and the inventor of stairs, and an acute desire to whack people with frying pans for 3-5 days each month. (I own several more frying pans now then I used to, coincidentally!)
Western medicine did absolutely nothing to help me feel better. Massage and other alternative techniques also didn’t help, though they did make me feel slightly better about the world in general, and that’s something. Sometimes I would ask my Helping Spirits to take away the pain in my brain, and they would do a commendable job. But usually I just muddled through until it passed and I felt like my normal self again. (Surprisingly, it did not occur to me to do more shamanic work around this, and I’ll get to my theory on why I didn’t think of that, in a moment.)
This coping technique, “muddling through until it passes”, is something that many of us do when we are not sure what else to do or when we are dealing with, what I now call, a “second tier focus”.
The idea of second tier focuses just solidified in my brain this weekend. So, here are my newly hatched thoughts on what I mean by it.
First, I noted that there are some things in life that get a lot of our mental and physical attention. You know these. They are the big “survival” things like food, safety, shelter, clothing (which can also sometimes read: work or career) and love (relationships: romantic, family, friendship, with self). I am going to call these large aspects, first tier focuses. There are several other first tier focuses that I am leaving out of this list, but you get the idea.
When there is a problem or a situation that arises in one of our first tier focus areas, we are oftentimes forced to make a change. Even if we are not forced into change, we will usually seek it out, sooner or later, because our physical, spiritual and emotional survival depends upon it. For example, we will try to get a new housing situation if ours becomes unlivable, find a new job if ours becomes unbearable or doesn’t pay us enough to make ends meet, seek out new relationships if ours become unsafe, unloving or just don’t nourish us anymore. These are first tier focuses. The BIG stuff of life.
But, then, there are second tier focuses. (And, probably, third, fourth, millionth tier and everything in between.) Second tier focuses are the things that come up in our lives, even regularly sometimes, but are not as crucial for survival as the first tier business. They are smaller and quieter in some ways. Since second tier focuses are not as crucial for our survival, when a problem or a situation arises in that area, we might tend to manage (i.e. muddle through), minimize or completely ignore the problem in hopes that it will resolve itself while we focus our real attention on first tier stuff. Sometimes what we do to manage these second tier problems/situations is to employ coping skills and problem solving techniques that we learned as children. We do this because its known and doesn’t require too much thought or effort on our part. These techniques usually aren’t the most effective for us anymore though, so the results are usually middling. Other times, it doesn’t even occur to us that making a change is an option. Many times those parts of us that are related to second tier focuses are on autopilot. They can be half-asleep or partly or completely unconscious, until we choose to shine the light of consciousness on them, wake them up and make a real change.
My PMS symptoms are an example of a second tier situation for me. It was something that came up regularly, but I would muddle through until it passed, because part of me knew it would pass and I could manage in the meantime. Since I knew it would pass, although probably temporarily, the problem/cause of these symptoms remained partly unconscious, laying in the background of my mind, sleepy, never coming fully to the surface. Since it remained partly unconscious, and I hadn’t yet shined the full light of consciousness on it, it did not occur to me to tackle it like I would tackle a big problem that was in my face, employing all my tools and skills, especially shamanic practices.
But it finally did come into the light and here’s how that happened. (Please note that I had these realizations by working backwards (sort of). Maybe it’s not backwards actually. Maybe it is just the way that women do their work and their communication. From point A to point D to X to T back to D and then ending up at B. In any case, I’m going to describe my experience in the sequence that it happened.)
A few months ago, I was in the middle of a PMS headache, energetic frying pan in hand, and I was tired of feeling yucky. I said to my husband, as I had said many times before, “I am so sick of having my period. Why can’t I just be done with it!? It’s not like I’m going to repopulate the planet or anything. I’m done having kids! I just want to go through menopause already! Uggggghhhhhhh!” He listened and offered thoughtful support, but you know, men can’t ever really get it. Then, still sitting there with energetic fry pan at the ready, I got a message from my Guides. They told me that I needed to do a shamanic journey right then. I told my husband that I needed to journey about this and went off to do so.
When I settled in for the journey, my Guides told me that I needed to journey to the Spirit of Menstruation. I needed to have a conversation with her, they said. I had never considered that there was a Spirit of Menstruation, even though I know that everything has a Spirit. I just hadn’t thought of that one. So, of course, I agreed to do the journey and off I went with my Guides.
In the journey, I was quickly brought to the home of the Spirit of Menstruation. It felt like we were slightly underground, inside the base of a gigantic tree. I stood in a warmly lit, round-ish room. There were no windows or doors that I could see, just the inside of the tree on all sides and overheard. There was a fireplace and it felt both spacious and cozy. The Spirit of Menstruation sat, slightly reclined, on an emerald green, tufted, velvet chaise lounge with many blankets, pillows and floor cushions near her. She was a curvy, tall woman with huge, thick red hair that flowed down to her waist and out to her sides and beyond her body. Her hair seemed to have a life of its own, moving without a breeze. She wore a blue silky blouse, a long billowing skirt, a beautiful scarf draped around her neck and bare feet. She felt like she had the potential to be both wild and serene. I greeted her and thanked her for seeing me. She stood up, greeted me, held my hands and invited me to sit on her chaise. I told her about my recent PMS symptoms and asked if she could help me understand what was going on and how to heal it. She held my hands again, looked into my eyes, took a breath, and the next thing I knew, she and I were on a ferris wheel at a small carnival.
We sat on the ferris wheel, strapped in, and the wheel was going around. It was large and it moved slightly faster than normal. The Spirit of Menstruation’s hair was even larger now and was whipping about wildly as we circled. There was no one else on the ferris wheel that I could see, and I noticed that there was no attendant.
Without an attendant, we just kept going around and around and around.
The Spirit told me that I had been approaching my period like this ferris wheel. I was afraid that I was stuck on it forever, going around and around with no way to stop it, out of control, starting to feel sick, scared, headachy and upset. As she said this, I could feel all of those feelings/thoughts inside of myself and inside of her at the same time, and I knew that she was right. I did feel trapped and stuck in this repeating cycle, like I was going around and around, out of control, and would be doing it forever.
She also told me that by repeatedly saying that I wanted to be done with my period, I had unconsciously set-up a conflict between my mind and my body. My body was just doing what it was designed to do, monthly periods during childbearing years, but my mind was trying to unconsciously will it to do otherwise. There was a tug of war happening. My mind was becoming increasingly upset at my body, angry that it continued to have monthly periods. My body was upset that my mind continued to shout at it for just doing its job. Symptoms arose because everyone was mad and out of balance.
“So, what do I do?”, I asked her.
“You need to make peace with your period, to end the conflict,” she said.
She showed me that being on the ferris wheel (i.e. having a period) gave me wonderful perspective that I couldn’t have gotten otherwise. She showed me how when you are at the bottom of the ferris wheel (first days of cycle, first quarter), you can take a break for quiet, to gather your thoughts and to gather your strength. She showed me that when you are at the front (after menstruation, second quarter), all the world is before you and your creative potential grows exponentially. She pointed out how you could see things from the top (ovulation time, mid cycle, third quarter), that you didn’t normally have access to and that you were very connected with the Earth and the Source. And she showed me how when you are at the back (pre-menstrual, fourth quarter), you can see the world all around you, including people in front, above and below, you can see things from other people’s perspective and connect with ancestors and this makes you more sensitive, more empathetic and more interested in honest, clear communication.
Then she said, to my relief, “But you don’t need to be on this ferris wheel to gain that perspective. You don’t need to go around and around. You can step off anytime.” She smiled “All you need to do, to be at peace, is be in the flow of life with your cycle.”
So, when the ferris wheel came around again and we were at the front, I saw my potential and decided to just float off of it. It may have kept going around, but I don’t know, because I didn’t look back. I floated all the way down to a beautiful river bank near by. There on the river bank was a cute, polka dot inner tube. I put the tube in the crystal clear water that flowed by and turned to the Spirit of Menstruation (who’s hair was no longer whipping wildly, but was huge, beautiful, brilliantly bright and somehow seemed at peace).
“Can I float down this river instead of being on the ferris wheel? Will I still learn what I need to learn and have the right perspective?”, I asked.
“Of course,” she replied lovingly. “And if you want to trade your tube for a kayak or a mossy log or the back of a whale; if you want to stop off at a platform with a slide; if you want to get out and walk over the green, grassy hills and pet the lovely spotted cows that you pass or ride a horse or fly with the falcons; do it. That is all part of it. Your flow.”
I thanked her and stepped into the river.
And, I haven’t had any PMS symptoms since.
Processing it afterwards, I had several realizations that I found interesting. 1) I don’t think I fully, consciously even realized I was saying that I wanted my period to be done - it was only partially conscious, at most, 2) I never considered what this repeated, unconscious thought would do to my biological body rhythms, and 3) It took me several years of symptoms and my Helping Spirits finally telling me to journey to get me to actually bring this second tier situation into the light of conscious and change it.
For a moment I thought, “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe it took me this long to really look at this situation and use my shamanic skills to heal it!! I am a shamanic practitioner for cryin’ out loud. Why didn’t I think of this sooner?” But a moment later I realized that those thoughts were unhelpful and inappropriate. I looked at this situation when the time was right. When it was ready to be made conscious. And realizing that I could have looked at the situation and used my skills much sooner has given me a new and different awareness of the second tier focuses. Now, thanks to these events, I am going to take a more active approach in looking at the sneaky second tier. And I encourage everyone to do the same.
We all have second tier situations. We all have ignored some of those situations, to a greater or lesser degree. But, ultimately, my message and the message of the Guides is this: We are powerful beings, my dears! And we have the ability to heal many, if not all, of the situations in our lives. Just turn toward them, with your Light, and lift them out of the shadows. We’ve got the skills! Let’s use them!!
So, what can we do right now? Start simply.
Step 1: If there is something in your life that doesn’t feel great, even if it’s only sometimes, look at it. Look at it particularly close if it’s a second tier focus and has been lying in the weeds for years. Look at it with your eyes open and shine the brightest light of consciousness on it that you can possibly muster! Focus. You don’t need to muddle through anything. You can shine brightly the entire way!
Step 2: Keep your light of consciousness on it and look even more closely. Meditate on it. Journal about it. Ask questions about it. Or, even better in my opinion, use your Awesome shamanic skills and journey about it, especially to the Spirit of that thing or situation to bring about healing. Everything, literally E-VER-Y-THING, has a Spirit that you can communicate with. You can journey to the Spirit of your house, or the Spirit of the herbs/medicines that you take, or the Spirit of Mother Earth or the Spirit of your work, relationships or anything else. Those Spirits have invaluable insights and information to help you shift, heal, find or change whatever your life needs to stay in balance and stay in your harmonious flow. And, if you don’t know how to journey, let me know and we will schedule it in your next session. It’s an incredibly powerful tool to have in your belt. And if you still don’t feel confident in your journeying skills, I can journey for you, once you bring the light of consciousness to the situation, and you can keep practicing your skills. The Light will meet you where you are at.
Step 3: Go out into the world as a bigger, brighter, more joyful and more free self. You’ll help others to heal just with your presence!
As always, please let me know if you try this out in your life, and what your stunning results look like.
Today and everyday, I wish you all gentle, peaceful periods and gentle, peaceful days full of Light, Love and polka dot inner tubes. I hope to see you on the river!