The Song and Dance Project (as I shall irreverently call it) has been continuing apace. Working with Deer and Small Deer has, in some ways, been a sigh of relief after Badger and Small Badger’s rather complex songs. The Deer songs have been very simple, lyrically speaking, and in fact the vocals are less of a focus than the drumming. Deer’s sing is so vocally simple, in fact, that its lyrics consist of a single word.
Lately, every time I’ve gone up to drum, I’ve run through all the songs I’ve written so far, usually three times for each, before starting on a new one. I’m doing my best to commit these all to memory. However, there will be a few dozen songs just from the totems and skin spirits–and there’s no telling who’ll want a song after them. I do want to sit down at some point with an audio recording program and a good mike and do basic recordings of each song, just so I have them on hand. Even after I finish writing all the totem and skin spirit songs I’ll still be practicing them regularly, in addition to whatever actual ritual use they get. But as my memory is still a bit impaired from years of sleep deprivation, a little technological backup can’t hurt, so long as I don’t let it replace regular practice.
That’s pretty much been my main focus as of late with my practice. This is perfectly fine with me; the first six months were pretty intense, and after that things were a little up in the air. It’s nice to have something resembling a linear set of tasks for a little while, though–it helps to keep me focused. It’s also helping me build a solid foundation for when things refuse to even resemble “linear”.
In other news, life has taken an interesting twist. Dissatisfied with making my living in the field of technical writing and editing, which mainly benefits large corporations and does little to help make the world a better place, a while ago I began seriously questioning what I wanted to do with my life. In reviewing what really interested me, I found myself continually coming back to psychology. While I didn’t have a formal background in it other than a couple of courses in my undergraduate work in college, in my own readings in the years since I graduated I found that psychology was something I kept coming back to. Ecopsychology was a particular interest, not surprisingly.
An added perk was the fact that psychology could easily be applied to real-world efforts to help people–and healthy individuals contribute to healthier communities. So I did some research on local universities and found one that, while it didn’t have a full degree in ecopsychology, the community counseling program did have an ecopsychology track as one possible emphasis.
After going to an open house for the graduate department in May, and finding out there were still openings for the Autumn semester, I rushed around to get everything pulled together in the space of a month to apply. I had never taken my GREs, so I got them scheduled and taken; I also rounded up reference letters, and ordered a transcript from my undergrad university. I got everything in just under the wire.
And…..I got accepted! I’ll be starting in September. If all goes well, in a few years I’ll have a Master’s degree in community counseling, and after 2400 hours of monitored practice I’ll have my license as well.
This bodes well. While psychology doesn’t automatically equal shamanism, and vice versa, counseling is a profession that, besides being something I can see myself committing my life to, I perceive as being quite complementary to my shamanic practice. While I’d most likely keep them as relatively separate parts of my life (i.e., I wouldn’t advertise a private counseling practice as being “genuine modern shamanism!”), I can still see the experiences from one meshing well with the other.
The spirits I work with are pleased about this (just so long as I don’t get so overwhelmed by school that I neglect them, of course). So I’ll take it as a good sign.