At Halloween, the veil between the worlds is thin, so thin that we can see between this world and the world of the ancestors.
When you engage your ability to see like a shaman, your vision not blocked by conventional walls of separation, your experience of being in the world changes.
The world opens up in front of you, connections becoming evident, ghosts walking everywhere. Instead of seeing the surfaces that other people believe keep them small, you see the network of possibilities, the intersections between them and their choices. As a cancer survivor said, “Once you open up, it’s amazing the paths you’ll cross.”
While they may want to stay small, staying with the old small talk, that becomes boring as shit to you. You don’t just want to go deeper, you need to go deeper as holes line up in your vision to create tunnels which expose the laces that go through the trivial and into the profound. Rather than just sloughing off the rude, unhealed and challenging, you end up staying with it, searching for the connections and truth within it.
Messages that might have been lost in the noise now start to resonate, reinforcing each other as the same meaning echoes from many different sources just because you are really listening. Instead of cancelling out each other they support each other, a universal voice offering köans which lead you to unlock even more revelation and understanding.
Your shaman eye begins to hone in, your shaman ears begin to hear, and you begin to have the challenge of revelation. As you open to spirit, barriers that used to block you and keep you comfortable now become lenses, demanding your attention and turning the routine into banal and annoying noise.
In Oprah’s “The Life You Want Weekend” she tells the audience that the reason she left her daily show is because she only wants to talk about healing and transformation. She needed to go deep because that is the way she sees the world. Of course, there are still bills to be paid, lifestyles to be be sustained, corporations to be fed, so her world still contains a raft of corporate sponsors which all have products that can help the new spiritual seeker.
Like every gift, the eye of the shaman eye comes with a price.
In the most ironic bit, a deepened sense of connection to the spiritual comes with a lessened sense of connection to the conventional. When our observer sense is sharpened, revealing what lies beneath, staying at the level of everyday bullshit no longer is simply difficult, it becomes almost impossible.
Our desire for connection shifts from being wide, looking at numbers, to being deep, looking at intensity. Simple surface pleasantries become intolerable even as we find it more and more difficult to find someone who can share and compliment our expanded vision. Others can forget, but the best we can do is forgive.
Others around us find this hard to understand. If we can see deeply, revealing connection and satisfying needs, don’t we have the obligation to use that ability to take care of them, to do the work that they do not yet envision? If we have the wounds which demanded healing, don’t we have the responsibility to take care of other people who have not engaged their own healing, those who stay stuck?
When healing is needed we become invaluable, doing the work for the group, but when healing is resisted we become annoying pariahs, demanding attention to things they would rather not see. Often, the highest resistance comes just before a breakthrough, so they end up acting out against us in a futile effort to silence the voice inside their own head.
People heal in their own time and in their own way. We cannot be responsible for anyone else’s healing other than our own. For those of us in relationship with other humans — and everyone needs relationship & connection — this is a difficult experience. We do love others, do want to be there for them, but are still profoundly hurt every time they fail to grow, fail to make better choices, fail to engage their own responsibility.
I know why people resist the obligation of shaman eye, choosing to stay connected to convention rather than spirit. You cannot just open yourself up to good and nice emotions, pleasant and affirming spirit. When you open your heart, you have to open your heart to the whole world, the brilliance and the pain. It is easy to be grateful for that which delights you, but being grateful for the pain which points out where healing is required is a much more difficult challenge.
My own shaman opening started very early, because my need for healing started early. I found having a shaman eye frustrating. I remember one therapist who said to me “Look, we are a full service HMO. Would you like to have a lobotomy? I can just check the box on the form and we can take care of it today?” He knew that I valued my vision, my smarts, that I wouldn’t trade deep for easy, and he also knew that I would get the joke. My mother in the sky often talks to me in jokes, as she knows that laughter helps the knife do the work.
It has taken me a long time to build a shaman toolkit that helps me work with my own vision, but the challenge still exists: Who cares for the caretakers? Who can come into the world of people who have the vision, empathy and understanding to enter the world of other and care for them in a way that supports healing?
Seeing like a shaman brings gifts and makes great demands. It offers connection with the deep while making the shallow, the defensive, the rationalized, the conventional, the small almost impossible to bear.
Even at Halloween, that is always a scary prospect.