I have just returned from a month of (semi) solitude in the jungle of Peru. I do this from time to time to refresh my relationship with myself, with my spirit guides and my Plant Medicine Masters. A deep time for reflection indeed.
When people look at me and say that they would love to be doing what I do (the healing work, to have the freedom of travel, living the so-called dream), I often smile and think REALLY? Is this really what you want? Would you really want to walk the path I have walked to get to this point?
Ok, yes, sure, you would be welcome to it!!!
I personally had the awareness from the beginning that it was not going to be all "angels, bubbles and unicorns". Far from it actually.
I had to sacrifice my family, many of my friends, what I felt was security, my home, my preconditioned fears of the spirit realm, my hopes of having a child and rather eat out of dustbins for 18 months and live out of my suitcase for several years to get to this place. So, no, I did not take the decision to embark on this path lightly. Rather I feel I was dragged, with all the proverbial kicking and screaming I could muster by an unseen force that kept me anchored to it. The very act of walking this path was humbling in that I recognized I was never really in control of anything outside of me. The power of manifestation is just an illusion. The truth is, that if it is meant for you, it will come, no matter what you do. If it's not meant for you, manifest away as much as you like. Whatever comes to you as a result will only cause you misery.
So for anyone idealizing the Shamanic path, for all the feather wearing, tantra/yoga practicing, face painting, naked-burning-man-dancing "goddesses" I see on every second Facebook page, sooner or later you will most certainly be in for a very rude awakening. Tying a pom-pom around your head and shaking a rattle will not suffice in the world of spirit, nor will it prepare you for a full-on exorcism in ceremony! I used to come from the school of thought that said "oh any demons or darkness is all in your mind...". Yes, well, it is, and it isn't. And it's the "isn't" part that I am becoming more connected to and respectful of.
In his book Singing to the Plants, Stephan Beyer speaks of the unavoidable duel with darkness for the unwitting Shaman who is not vigilant, high in integrity and who does not stick to the rigid principles of working with Ayahuasca. And even for those who do, the path is littered with upheaval and danger. He writes "The territory occupied by the Shaman is suffering, hope, failure, envy, spite and malice. We are stricken by the resentment of others; we are betrayed by those we trusted; our successes are stalked by illness and death".
Ermm, yes, yes, yes and yes.....
But even beyond the obvious negative energy that may be generated towards you, there is (even more importantly) the issue of what is going on inside you! The obvious issues are the desire for money, power and sex. And who out there can look truthfully and deeply into themselves and say they definitely would not like a bit of at least one, if not all of the above? (Looked at your Facebook and Instagram posts lately?)
And then, beyond that, even if you are prepared to give it all up, there is the sinister lure of something deeply embedded in human nature. Robert De Niro's character John Milton (AKA the Devil) mused in The Devil's Advocate: "Ah Vanity....., definitely my favorite sin!"
As with all my blogs, I like to write honestly and from personal experience. Once upon a time, I too thought I was "up there", riding high, and looking down on everyone from my Spiritual Ivory Tower. My 'spiritual standing' was powerful within my medicine community, and one of my consorts at the time aptly labelled me "The Queen Bee".
A part of me wants to yell out "Projection, you Bitch!" and another more honest part of me recognizes that it was true. Oh Spiritual Ego. Hello old friend...
I look back on myself at that time and feel a little disappointed in myself, I was so blind to it, and yet now I recognize that it was a part of my journey and vital so that I could learn how not to be. My fall was swift and vast and painful, but necessary and I am grateful for it, "for the meek shall indeed inherit the earth", as the old bible scriptures aptly express. I have learnt that the more I am humbled, the closer to God I feel.
Spiritual Ego is deeply provocative for those who start to receive the benefits of drinking plant medicines such as Ayahuasca or San Pedro, or for those with a strong spiritual practice. And I have surely tasted it. To explain what this power is like, I use the analogy of the Ring from Tolkein's Lord of the Rings.
Only those with utmost integrity can walk through the fire of initiation unscathed, still humbled and actually wear it. And many will succumb to the deliciousness of its rush, just like little old Golim. Even now, IT still gently tugs on any frayed edges of my personal darkness and calls like a siren to those parts of myself still in need of love and recognition from others. I work at it constantly, refusing to believe the hype and steering clear of the adulation paid to me by the people on the receiving end of my healing work.
Anyone in this position will find it so easy to start believing that it all comes from them. But if we fail to humbly acknowledge that we are a mere instrument for the divine, we will have missed the point completely. It is wise to come to terms with the fact early on that we are just a convenient sack of flesh at "their" disposal as long as they need us for our personal skill set. And in return we get to evolve at an accelerated rate, which inadvertently means far more pain that the average life of Joe Blogs. But also great soul advancement and spiritual satisfaction (if we can stay in the light).
When on a spiritual path - that fall from grace and the period of being lost in the potency of Kundalini's Power is something all will experience at some point. For some, it will last a few years - for others it could last a whole lifetime. I observe many who used to be part of my circle, and are now in that space. And I observe others yet to reach it. But mark my words, it comes for all of us eventually.
Here are some signs / attributes to discern whether you or someone else close to you are being drawn into Spiritual Ego or Shaktipat, as the Kundalini Humanology notes call it:
1. A Lack of compassion for others and for where others are on their individual spiritual path.
2. Prone to judgement with immense cognitive dissonance
3. An inability to acknowledge their part in a dispute or to accept responsibility for their actions
4. They always know better and their cup is always full
5. No rules apply to them, and they have little or no respect for the boundaries of others
6. They struggle with being vulnerable and honest about their true feelings
7. They expect people to be grateful for everything they do, but show little or no gratitude or acknowledgement for what others do for them
8. They have volumes of head knowledge, and can rattle off verses of the Zohar, Vedic texts or other spiritual writings, but their hearts remains guarded or shut down and they speak very highly of themselves
I'm sure there are more, but these seem to encapsulate it best from my perspective.
And on the subject of my opinion, I have noted that all Axis I Neurotic Issues and Axis II Personality Disorders are a sign of spiritual immaturity, I would be so bold as to say that Spiritual Ego is really just another form of Narcissism, when the practitioner has become inebriated with their own power.
Some of you may already possibly know people with these characteristics. And with the explosion of the popularity of Spiritual activities and Plant Medicine right now, we can be sure to meet many more in the near future. There can be no judgement here because we have all been there, either here or in the future or in the past.
And there are many Shamans and even great Spiritual Masters who have achieved and done great things, and yet this last most challenging issue of Spiritual Ego clings to them like a second skin, impossible for them to see or feel, but known widely by others.
Power is provocative and most of us are unable to cope with it, until we have delved deeply into our own darkness and come to terms with each and every unloved part of ourselves.
I implore all of us to watch ourselves. Remaining humble, steady and being in service to others during these times.
Bearing in mind that the people whom we judge today, may possibly be the ones judging us tomorrow.
Scarab Deva offers Plant Medicine Integration Sessions (therapy for after the ceremony) and spiritual counseling sessions for those wishing to expand and find themselves again.
Please go to www.scarabdeva.com for more info.