Shamanic Death and Rebirth
Death is underrated. The true essence of ourselves never dies. What can die, needs to die for us to truly live.
Sleep is the death we do daily. During our day we are bombarded with countless images and events, stresses and changes. If we didn’t sleep, the accumulated impressions of the day would overwhelm us. Sleep deprivation has been used as a form of torture. We need to surrender our minds into the death-like sleep to have peace.
During the span of our path in life, physical death plays a similar role. Over a long period of time, our accumulated emotional wounds, the psychic burden of life’s events, and the numbing trap of our entrenched view of life, add heavy baggage to our existence. We get stuck. We get tired. We need to die to move beyond the limits we’ve created for ourselves in this embodiment.
Of course Death would be the greatest tragedy if this one life was all we had. The thing is, reincarnation is real. We evolve through repeated lives. In each life we experience the reflections of our previous ones, thus bringing lessons and growth. Even within each life we find our “problems” and “challenges” coming in repeating patterns, until we finally address the wounds, assumptions and baggage lying at the root of the lesson.
I’m not asking you to accept the reality of reincarnation on blind faith. I mention it because we’re talking about death. Without reincarnation, there is no real justice in life. Some may believe we only have one life on earth but live on forever in heavenly realms. Even that is reincarnation of another sort. We live on in another form. It’s possible to remember from past lives, and also to see the Spirit in the synchronicities of events in this life. When this happens you go from reserving judgment (to avoid blind faith) to experiential knowledge.
Many of us are feeling a quickening of energy around us these days. It seems there is a transformation of consciousness at hand. There is endless speculation and prophecy about the timeline of this and what form it will take. Many notice an acceleration in the perception of time itself. Synchronicities are becoming more common.
On the other hand, economies and the environment appear headed for trouble if not disaster. The rising of the light creates a friction with everything hiding in the dark, within us and within society. Friction makes things hot. Things may even catch fire. Many wonder what to do to prepare for tumultuous times. Where to go? Who to join with?
I want to propose that the best thing you can do to prepare for transformation in society, or even your own inevitable death, is to heal your wounds, conclude your unfinished business, release and forgive your past, and learn to abide in the unburdened presence of your own Being which is Love itself.
How to get there? How to return to our essential self without the excess psychic and emotional fat we have packed away? There are many spiritual practices that can help but I want to introduce you to one inspired by the Amazonian Rainforest Medicine, Ayahuasca. For thousands of years this medicine has been used for healing, insight and also religiously in South America, and more recently around the world. Many feel the presence of a divine feminine Being that comes with the medicine to teach and heal from within. It’s not always an easy process to face your demons and let go, but the Goddess present in the experience often makes the bitter medicine easier to accept.
An experience that many people have had working with this medicine is that of “Shamanic Death and Rebirth.” The Spirit gives one the feeling of we are going to die and encourages one to make peace with their life experiences and all the people who have been a part of their life. Everything is surrendered to the degree possible and finally the person emerges from it renewed, refreshed and lighter. It feels as if they were reborn.
It’s possible to engage this purificatory process without traveling to the jungles Peru or even drinking the Rainforest Medicine. We can invoke the Spirit and face our unfinished business here and now. It provides a reality check of the wounds and divisions that remain in you. It helps free you from those bonds. You become undivided.
Because every wound, denied feeling or held grudge is locked in place within you. The bars and jail cells of these pains are constructed of your own consciousness so that it requires a part of you to become unconscious to hold the pain outside of your awareness. Dissolving our unfinished business and healing our wounds frees these parts of us to return to the wholeness of ourselves.
Just because we try to forget our wounds and past doesn’t mean they aren’t affecting us. Our conscious minds are the tip of the iceberg of our awareness. I’m able to synthesize proteins out of amino acids and build new cells in my body even though I doubt I’d get a good grade in a bio-chem class.
Everything we refuse to face festers within us and become reflected in events in our lives that put these issues in our face over and over until we deal with them. You can probably review your own life and see repeating patterns that are unwelcome but uncannily visit you over and over.
So I invite you to periodically practice this Shamanic Death and Rebirth Meditation, to work on purging your inner poisons and being more truly yourself.
It’s ironic that I’m teaching and conducting ceremonies for people. I’m not a fan of any formalities and find ritual boring in general. However, behind ceremonies and rituals are some important principles that we need to invoke to allow our intentions to come to life.
The first and most important ceremonial act is give the Spirit/Universe/Higher Self permission to help us. In doing this, we are also opening ourselves to new insight, grace and transfiguration. This is crucial because we are spiritually sovereign. Life allows us to wallow in our pain if we choose. We, often unconsciously, hang on to our suffering because it is familiar, even comforting.
We have even mixed our pain up with our pleasure. When we are children, often when we were upset and crying about something, our parents gave us something pleasurable, like candy or attention to stop our suffering. Thus our experience of pain and pleasure become linked in our emotional brain. Later we get depressed and sit down with a tub of ice-cream or a box of cookies. If you watch, you’ll notice some people take real pleasure in their complaining about work or the way they were treated by someone. Try to observe yourself and catch yourself enjoying your pain, your martyrdom, and let go of milking that experience.
So while people might speak endlessly about wishing healing and transformation, they often at the same time cling tenaciously to exactly their habitual awareness. The Spirit will let them. Religions try to coerce people to believe and change, but Spirit puts us on a path of life lessons that offer change to us when we’re finally ready to accept the message. Answer the hint, the gentle knocking, of the universe because the knocking gets louder and stronger until it’s ready to knock your door down.
So by calling in the Spirit, you invite the deeper parts of yourself and the divine to guide and help the healing within you. You let go of insisting on hanging on to your suffering. To make this invitation clear to yourself and the Spirit, we create a ceremonial container to enact this intention. It’s enough to state aloud your intention in a prayerful way, three times is even better. The point is to be clear about this act because our minds can be muddy and sometimes we’re thinking 3 things at once and not really behind what we’re saying and doing.
In medicine ceremonies, drinking the bitter tea is an act that accepts the difficulty of making change and calls in the healing. In Christian tradition, blessed wine becomes a sacrament which signifies taking refuge in Spirit.
So while this Shamanic Death and Rebirth can be a great meditation.
I encourage you to make a ceremony out of it. Perhaps burn some incense, light a candle, play some ambient supportive music (or music that triggers your feelings) and make a ritual drink of water to signify inviting grace to your transformation. If you are involved with a spiritual tradition or are experienced with the rainforest medicine, you can call in the power of the Spirit that you know. Imagine the medicine is bitter but that you face tasting it anyway because you are ready to move higher and deeper with yourself.
After stating your prayer intention and taking the ritual drink, sit in mediation or lie down and go within. Watch your breathing. Feel your own presence and gradually calm yourself until you can work in your mind’s eye with clarity.
Imagine that this was your last hour on the planet. Imagine that after this hour, you are stripped from your past and all the identity you have created for yourself. If it doesn’t scare you out of doing the meditation well, you can even conceive that you’re going to die and will be reborn in anther world, without any of the trappings of the life you have now. The point is going to be making peace with your life and all the people who have been a part of it.
There are a few ways to move through this meditation. For some people, certain relationship, wounds or events immediately present themselves as needing attention. Often that’s the best place to start. Our power is locked up there.
Perhaps others have suffered such intense abuse that they aren’t ready to feel, much less consider forgiving, the most intense wounds within. For them they can start elsewhere. This gives them a chance to learn the process and gain strength and courage to deal with the intensity.
Mom and Dad, along with serious relationships we’ve had, are potent people to mentally visit and make peace with.
Making peace can happen in a few stages: expressing feelings, finding resolution and release, forgiveness and gratitude.
Everybody who has been a part of your life has contributed to who you are today. Even negative experiences may have given you something positive. If you experienced a totally comfortable and easy life, you might easily have never questioned society’s values and blindly lived a complacent life. You might not have compassion for the pains of others. You might easily be thrown off your balance by challenges you meet later in life.
Those who have dealt pain to you have probably done so out of their own weakness and limitations. It’s rarely personal. People project their pain and issues onto others and yet those others take it personally.
Children experience Mom and Dad as perfect Gods until those God inevitably let them down, even though a misunderstanding. Mom has to leave to take care of something and baby doesn’t know if she’s ever coming back. There is an inevitable disillusion when we experience that Mom and Dad are human, and that we’d been lied to about the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus.
To become whole we need to forgive ourselves and forgive others. They go hand in hand. We judge ourselves at least as harshly as we judge others. Forgiving others doesn’t mean inviting them back in your life, remarrying them or even telling them you’ve forgiven them. It means dissolving the stuck energy around them in your heart so that energy is free to be Love and free to experience life freshly.
We often hold this pact of vengeance that tells us to hang on to our ill will about something, as if staying angry will somehow punish the person that hurt us; that staying angry will validate our pain. We punish ourselves by holding poison within. Give yourself grace by determining to face everything and let it all go.
So the meditation is this: you visit people and events in your life, one by one. If there is something to express: how you felt they hurt you, how you felt about it, how you loved them, whatever unfinished business you feel around the event or relationship, then express it within yourself. You’re going to die, this might be your last chance. Feel the feelings but don’t get it wrapped up in a new story. Observe your feelings. You are feeling the energy in the process of letting it go, not chewing on your old stuff over again.
Remember that this stuff is just content of your psyche. The real you is beyond and observing everything. Purged of the clutter of your wounds and the weight of your history, you will still be “you.” Just unburdened and free, being Love itself.
So express those feelings within and see if you can’t forgive that person or event. Let it go. Everything and everybody has taught you something, even if the lesson was realized later.
See if you can thank each person for the role they played in your life.
Even if a parent was hard on you, they probably had to wipe your butt and sacrifice time and money to have you. Even if a person was a totally dark force in your life, you don’t need the poison of a grudge within you. People act darkly because they have their own pain and blindness. They’ve been abused themselves. You don’t need them living inside you.
Out of my experience and feeling about past lives, I feel that I’ve known most of my friends and connections in other lives as well. All relationships tend to have some hurts or misunderstandings in time. I like to express to all those whom I’ve touched: I’m sorry if I’ve ever caused you pain, please pardon me, and I freely forgive you for any pain you’ve caused me in this life or others. That goes for those reading this as well. Let’s get clean and free because we are eternal beings. Why wait for real death to ease the burdens we carry within?
Go through this process until you feel done with it. Most people will need to revisit this meditation repeatedly and work at it until it’s possible to accept our lives and relationship without pain and reactivity. Eventually, you can make a heartfelt surrender of yourself to Spirit. Then you are free and even death won’t hurt you.
Don’t judge yourself.
Do what you can.
One freedom leads to another.
Even when you think you’ve got it all resolved, sometimes another layer comes up, triggered by being freed from the piles of denial that once suppressed it. No matter, do your work and embrace the experience of freeing yourself.
When you feel “done,” rest in the silence and peace of yourself. Allowing the energy you stirred up to integrate within you. You might imagine your body lowered into the earth where the darkness and coolness sooth you and you become nothing but the essence of your inner core.
Rest there awhile.
Bathe in Peace and Release.
After you are recharged, imagine yourself coming back from this grave-like place into the Spring light. Birds are singing, and angelic beings are garlanding you with flowers, welcoming you to your new life. Take a little blessed fruit or juice to nourish yourself after the passage.
Proceed with your journey in life fresh and unburdened.
I’ve done this ceremony at many California and Oregon music festivals and various Burning Man camps. Now in Bali…You are invited to attend if you feel called.