I think this is the longest I’ve gone without posting in this blog. (Which has been what–a week? Okay, more like a week and a half.) I promise I haven’t forgotten about the comments–I will reply at some point sooner rather than later!
I’ve pulled away, not because I don’t like it any more (though I still feel a little weird reading some of my writing which, until two weeks ago, made a lot more sense, and not so much now that everything’s been shaken up). Rather, I’ve just needed some space. (Well, and my day job has gotten busier since I returned; I think they decided to save everything up for when I got back from my Arizonan Odyssey.) In the week and a half since I got back home, I’ve been taking a break. Some of it is a need to rest; some of it is also allowing things to process. I really pushed myself at times in my first six months, and the Ecoshamanic training was even more intense.
However, a lot of the time has been spent adjusting. My experiences brought on a lot of changes in a relatively short period of time, and in addition coming back to my everyday life, my day job, and my schedule created a bit of a shock. Right now, I spend an average of twelve hours out of the home every day, Monday through Friday–nine hours at work, and three hours of commuting by bus, train and walking. I work in a cubicle at a computer all day, and have very little exposure to the outdoors except evenings and weekends. The fact that it’s been winter has made me even less inclined to go outdoors, though one of my goals is to make myself less cold-phobic.
I’ve been living in cities since the summer of 2001, though I grew up in a rural area, surrounded by wilderness for most of my life. I’ve always been sensitive to energy, and have been particularly comfortable in natural areas because of this. There’s less “noise”, or at least discordant “noise” in the wild than in the average city. It’s not that cities are all horrible, terrible places; they have personalities, too, and not all urban energy is unhealthy. But even in the nicest cities, it’s just not a substitute for regular exposure to the wilderness for me.
I think, over the years, as I’ve spent less and less time in wild places due to numerous factors–lack of accessibility, lack of time, gas prices–I’ve begun to try to shut off that need for wild energy, to try to ignore that part of myself, without really realizing I was doing it. I can look back at my magical practice and my spirituality and see where that detachment even filtered into that part of my life. Now that I’m on a path that’s made me more aware of, among other things, my health, I’ve been paying more attention to that need for wild energy. Being broken open again in Arizona brought this home even more acutely.
In the week and a half since I got home, I’ve been very aware of the energy of the Land where I live, and where I work. For example, Portland is a livable city because, more than other cities I’ve lived in, the natural world and the manmade city, while not in perfect balance, are closer to symbiosis. However, I still need to go to Laurelhurst Park or even Mt. Tabor Park a few times a week to feel better, and I notice now more when I haven’t been there for a few days. I work out in the suburbs, where the damage to the environment is more recent–what used to be farmland less than twenty years ago is now strip malls and condos. The attitude towards the land is less respectful, too–a commodity to be used. Most of the plants there are cultivated–grass, domestic shrubs, etc. Chemical pesticides are the norm. There’s no urban growth boundaries in the suburbs. When I go there, I feel the energy of the Land; much more fragmented, because unlike the land in Portland proper, it hasn’t had time to heal. Portland feels like a hybridized ecosystem; the suburbs just feel like sprawl.
Due to my re-opening, I’ve been feeling decidedly uncomfortable. After spending four days and nights in a very wild place (once you’re outside of Sedona it’s nothing but desert and a few houses and ranches–and Sedona’s not that big) coming back to a much larger urban area has been a bit of a shock to my system. On top of it I’m finding that I’m just not very happy working in a cube farm. Granted, it’s a contract, so it’ll end eventually, but I really wish I worked someplace where i had easy access to a window. I don’t even know what it’s like outside unless I leave my cube.
I know that with some time I’ll find a good balance, though I don’t want it to be through shutting myself down again. Still, right now my shamanic activity is mainly limited to doing things to try to adjust–walking more, and energy exchange with nature wherever I find it, even in the hacked-up land of the suburbs. (A side note on the energy work–I’m finding that what I’m doing is essentially the same as Franz Bardon’s pore breathing, all over my body. I’ve done pore breathing before, but this is the most I’ve noticed it happening on a not-quite-conscious level, more like the programmed instinct of lung breathing.)
As for more “stereotypical” shamanic work, that may have to wait a bit. A couple days after I got home, I went upstairs to the ritual room to do a little artwork, and realized how LOUD it was with the various spirits chattering in there (it’s where I keep my skins, plus a couple dozen animal skulls, and so forth). I think at this point I’m mainly going to be concerned with “volume control”, so to speak, learning to be aware without listening to every single thing in Dolby Surround Sound. Once I get a little more used to this, my first task is working more with the skin spirits, since I promised them I would (they’re being patient, though really eager to get working).
I’ve also picked up a copy of James Endredy’s Earthwalks, which has a lot of exercises which should help me to incorporate getting used to all this with one of my favorite things–going for walks. He already demonstrated a couple of them while I was in Arizona, and what I saw when flipping through the book before buying it also looked really promising.
Fortunately, nobody’s pressuring me to do more than this, which I appreciate. Right now I’d just like to get used to the changes that have already occurred, and learn to make a healthier relationship with the Land where I am, before embarking on more complicated things.
I always found it interesting when the once normal becomes abnormal. Granted, this tends to happen much faster with energy, especially with those like yourself that seem very much in touch with their local surroundings as they travel.
I lived in New York City for 13 years. Being driven on highways buried under skyscrapers was a normal thing to me. It was the country that was “weird” and would often induce a physical reaction of “choking on fresh air” when I’d leave the city.
After that, I moved to the middle of nowhere. Okay, not quite nowhere, but a place where one doesn’t really bat an eye to goats walking down the road to the farm next door. Living on a main thoroughfare is the only reason I have Cable TV and High-Speed internet access.
Going to Philadelphia and later Pittsburgh… every time I’d do that, I’d be in a complete sense of awe at skyscrapers. In Houston, one night I decided to pull an all-nighter. I stared out my hotel window looking at the enormous number of cars going by, comprehending that each and every one of these people was driving for some purpose – likely not just for the heck of it to fill up highway space. All these people, all those lives going in all those directions.
Yet, somehow in a city, there is some sense of organized chaos to it all. Everyone knowing where they need to go, but everything looking like mass chaos from afar. Often we see concentrations of human populations and forget that each and every person there has an individual life and many stories to go along with that life.
It’s like driving down a highway. We often ignore all the bumps and dents in the guide rails and skid marks on the road and the cement barriers. However, all those dents and marks got there somehow. There is a story behind each and every one of those that significantly impacted someone’s life. Yet, it is so mundane, so common, it is background noise to most people.
Essentially that’s how the normal becomes the abnormal. It is absent for a sufficient period of time that your mind no longer filters it as “background noise.” When you return to it, all of a sudden you take notice to it. It’s been there all along, you just subconsciously thought it was background noise and thus irrelevant sensory input.
I know myself, living rurally but frequently traveling to cities, I’ve noticed that there’s a human energy to cities. It’s not natural (as in not the same feeling of energy you’d get in a completely natural surrounding), but it can be treated similarly. All my kin friends give me weird stares every time I mention this. Maybe I’m the weird one, or maybe they’re just filtering it as background noise – really not sure on that one. Either way, I think there has to be some sort of affects on the local energy as a result of all these living bodies walking around, interacting, doing their job yet ultimately (usually unintentionally) functioning as a single hive in the macro scale of economics, culture and government.
Unfortunately even where there is a UGB in Portland it tends to expand more rapidly than it should, levelling forests for huge suburbs (Forest Heights…case in point) that have enormous houses, quite a few off which have been on the market for months now.