Sunday, May 31, 2015

This weeks blog is a wrap up on intrusive spiritual entities

The dead are not dead, and sometimes the dead do not know they are dead. In such cases we need to look for meaningful rituals to allow those who are dying or have just died to pass on easily into the spirit world. Some earth bound spirits will hover about not knowing where they are and may get in the way of the life flow of the living. This can occur due to not letting go and surrendering to the death process because of over attachment to a loved one or the material, unfinished business or anything that creates a lot of confusion at the time (especially sudden, traumatic death due to any cause.) These lost souls may be stuck between worlds - between this and the other side of the veil between the two realities. They need to be redirected to the astral realm so they and the living can be at peace and also so that the spirit can reconcile with his or her karma.

Sometimes the dead know they are dead but because they are deeply attached to a loved one, will hang around and not let go. There comes a time when the mourning is over and the spirit must be released and told that it is now okay for them to leave.

Intrusive spirits also can haunt the living from the other side of the veil. Most commonly they are seeking forgiveness because of shame, guilt or remorse due to unskillful behavior in life which is now a blight on their karmic record. Forgiveness may release them from accountability. If there are any skeletons in the family closet they should be reconciled before death. After death it is more difficult and one might need help from someone with special expertise. 
Unfinished business is a cause of much pain and suffering for those that have past and for those left behind. For the latter, being haunted, can cause spiritual malaise and "dis"-ease which may eventually result in disease. Correction of this is one of the more important aspects of shamanic work.

 Although dead spirits can aid and abet us dysfunctional ones can also interfere with our physical, mental, psychological, and spiritual energy. 

Possession by the dead can be voluntary or involuntary and evil spirits can possess their hosts without permission. Voluntary possession is probably best called spirit-mediumship. Possession is a loaded term but it is used commonly in South Africa by sangomas. Most sangomas are "possessed" in one form or another by their guiding spirits.
Involuntary possession is rare and is catastrophic. The spirit can take over the body and persona of an individual and wreak havoc. The movie by Oprah "Beloved" speaks to this rare but devastating occurrence. Exorcism is the only way to eliminate the malevolent spirit. Psychotherapy and psychotropic drugs are useless. The Catholic church and others that have expertise have the ability to handle this dangerous work but the prognosis for the possessed one is often not good. Sometimes the unfortunate victim may even be possessed by more than one spirit from the lower spiritual realms. The one possessed often demonstrates superhuman strength as a result of the possession. If not successfully exorcised illness frequently follows as well as a limited life span.  It is possible that certain cases of psychosis, schizophrenia, and multiple personality disorder fit into this category. There are documented instances in which exorcism has cured these afflictions. 

For the sangoma or any shaman, the choice to act as a medium is voluntary.  She allows her helper ancestral spirit/s to possess her and to work through her.  An ancestor who feels the need to complete unfinished business in this way can improve their karma  by doing service from the other side. In return the spirits will favor their host with privileges. It may appear as if spirits take away free will. This is only the case with involuntary possession but not so with spirit mediumship where the ancestor acts as a guide to the channel.  It is regarded as a boon and a privilege to have been chosen to be a sangoma. Every one of us would welcome having a loving mentor who bestows gifts and can see and understand things that normally elude us. 
On the other hand dark witches and sorcerers work with the help of evil spirits but this is also voluntary so that when it comes to reconciling with their karma they cannot say "the devil made me do it."

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Making contact with spirit guides with the help of sangoma wisdom

Although the sangoma is the expert in dealing with cosmic, terrestrial, and water spirits, we can all communicate with our ancestors by praying to them and soliciting their help. If we don’t "talk" to them, they may not talk to us.  A good vehicle for communicating is an altar decorated with photos or objects of our loved ones that may be in spirit and are able to help. Creativity is appreciated from the other side and there are no rules to adhere to. We may have seen them in dreams of "felt" them or know intuitively they are there to assist. Free will is the cosmic law so we must ask to receive. Gratitude is the ultimate form of prayer and any way we show this especially in ritual will reinforce their desire to help. By allowing them to help us both we and they are empowered. Spirit guides can do service from the other side which may assist their karma. If we do seek their guidance, they can advise us in dreams and in other ways. Since most of us are unable to reach ecstatic states and open ourselves up to the spirit world,  we may to seek out someone, such as a sangoma, who has developed this kind of expertise. Spirits guides cannot communicate with us in the usual way because they are in the Cosmic Field. The spirit world has its own modus operandi, which may be confusing.  We need to discover the way in which we get our individual messages and to recognize the signals that come from this realm.

         Each one of us has our particular avenue of communication that we should nurture. We may be clairvoyant, audient or sentient. Messages may come with a buzzing in the ear or a tingling up the spine. If we are good dreamers and remember our dreams we may not hear voices or have day time visions.  If we have none of these we may feel bodily sensations that tell us what feels right and what feels wrong. If we get a gut feeling that something is amiss, more than likely it is and we should take heed. If we experience goose bumps it may be that a profound inner truth has just been revealed or acknowledged. Some of us just have a deep internal sense of “knowing.”  Nature lovers will see signs in nature that may come as metaphors carried by the wind or a bird or by the glow of a sunset.  "Power" animals may also present themselves in and outside of dreams. I believe the ancestors guide these animals to us when we need help. 

         Recognition that our ancestors are attempting to communicate with us and understanding what it is they are trying to say is not easy.  However, if we are patient, have good recall, and allow the correspondence to unfold in its own time, we will gain clarity about what the spirit world is trying to tell us. We should not expect to get clear instructions dictated or presented in an orderly fashion. Nevertheless the directions are there. All we need to do is decipher the cosmic narrative which can help us with vital non local information.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

More on Forgiveness in this weeks blog

Ritual is an excellent way to make reparations to the dead.  If we can perform a meaningful ceremony that can release our ancestors from their burden of guilt and at the same time free us from ours we can move forward less impeded in life. This simple but often difficult principle lies at the heart of the sangoma’s work.  In creating a ritual, the preferences and sensitivities of those who have passed on should be taken into account. For that reason, we should try and learn as much as we can about our ancestors; by using our own memories, asking others about them, and by researching documents, if that is possible. 

With a full appreciation of the blessings and blemishes of our blood root, we will be able to design more effective and friendly rituals on our ancestors’ behalf. All healing eventually comes down to our relationship not only with ourselves but with other living selves and also with the dead. Shamanic or other assistance can be invaluable here to more completely allow contact with unhappy spirits awaiting closure. 

This is especially so in the case of intrusive spirits who are seeking forgiveness during their reconciliation process in the astral. In the case of earth bound spirits (EBS) forgiveness is not usually an issue. Frequently because of a confused or traumatic death the EBS may not cross over and become lost between the worlds. Moreover, they may not even know that they are dead. Hence releasing them is easier because they are "closer at hand" than those in the astral e.g. an elderly person who has died in her or his home and is now unknowingly bothering or even haunting the new owners. Of note now, is that in some states, it is required to let future buyers and prospective owners know if anyone had previously died in the home since in some instances this could influence the purchase.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Further sangoma musings - this time on forgiveness

Forgiveness is key to healing.  Guilt is a central factor in aggravating illness and perpetuating misery. Many people who are sick believe they do not deserve to be well because of the guilt they feel, for whatever reason. We need to forgive ourselves and others in order to heal completely.  Neuroscience is now showing how guilt, shame and self condemnation put our brains in lockdown mode, stifling personal growth and also inhibiting our immune systems. AIDS patients who forgave the person that gave them the HIV virus live longer and have higher T cell counts than those that don't. It is better to give absolution before someone who has wronged you moves off into the spirit realm. Often we wait until it is too late. We should take the skeletons in the family and other closets out and deal with them with reconciliation  According to African belief it is never too late to appease, and the spirits can be released from their remorse in the beyond although this is more difficult and may require shamanic intervention. Self-Condemnation has adverse spiritual effects as well.

The Bible says; "Honor your father and mother that your days will be long upon the earth." Africans extend this principle to the grand parents and great grand parents as well. As children, no matter how difficult, we should take the first step to absolve our parents and grandparents from blame and heal past wounds, even if we were the ones to suffer from them. If not, the wound may be carried down through our own progeny. This may occur not only because of the perpetuation of unskilled parenting but also because 
a troubled unforgiven spirit may be reborn into the same family, and an identical dysfunction will recur. 
Pardon will help prevent the same affliction from being passed down from generation to generation. The Native Americans believe that anything we do will affect the next seven generations which concurs with the Biblical principle that “the sins of the fathers (and mothers) are visited upon the children unto the fourth generation.” We tend to be reborn back into the same bloodline with our un-rectified or unforgiven dysfunctions. Forgiveness will release the spirit from that particular karmic sin. Fortunately unhappy, intrusive family spirits that create dysfunction can be appeased with rituals embracing forgiveness. There is nothing good about being haunted by an intrusive spirit. Although not necessarily intentional, their energy can interfere with our auric field and create; bad luck, anxiety, depression, "dis"-ease with headaches and other physical manifestations.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Musings on the Sangoma path

As this particular blog on sangoma wisdom comes gradually to an end the next few blogs will discuss some personal impressions gleaned along the way of my sangoma walk.

Painting by Paul Cumes

As Westerners we lack the words and rituals that could assist us in connecting with the afterworld. Language to describe these phenomena must be appropriate to each person’s culture, belief system, and education. Semantics can offend and confuse, and we must choose words that reflect what each one of us feels to be true. We are the knowers, who explicate reality, matter, the physical, the microcosm—the ones below who exist in body in this world and in the here and now. However, there is also a Field: a world of spirit, the implicate reality, infinity, the macrocosm, the world above, the void, the imaginal realm, the cosmic infinity, the dream time, the unknown, the ancestors, and the collective unconscious. As sentient beings we need to find a way to relate to the great mystery above, around, and beneath us. Even if we do not understand it, by knowing some passwords and a few simple rules we can enrich our lives. We will all access these realms in different ways. 

Ancestral reverence and the different healing techniques I’ve described are highly valued in African society and have been in force for eons. Sangomas are able to communicate with the dead. This phenomenon is quite alien to Western thinking, and is often dismissed and even ridiculed. Yet dead spirits may play a much bigger role in our health, wealth, and happiness than we may think. The dead are not really dead, and it behooves us to come into some sort of relationship with our loved ones who have passed on.  They have merely gone out of one doorway and through another into a realm we are able to reach, but only with difficulty and diligence.

 A lengthy study over many decades by John Hopkins Medical Center on 1337 medical students that were followed well into the maturity of their respective careers showed some interesting findings. They discovered that those physicians who developed cancer had much lower scores on “Closeness to Parents” scale. As Westerners we might say that the parent’s love created balance, stability and meaning and facilitated good health in the child that lasted a lifetime.  African belief, however, may have attributed the progeny’s good health to the dead parents’ and the grandparents’ protective spirits.  The commandment to honor they father and mother adds, 
“…that thy days may be long upon the earth.”
and is the only commandment that speaks to longevity.
Both notions, psychological and mystical, may be true.