The Sun, The Son and The Moon - How Shamanism Makes Us Better ParentsOct 13, 2021
Earlier this week I had a little shamanic adventure that illustrates perfectly how shamanic journeys can help us. Whether you're a parent or not, you'll see how shamanism works on practical matters that cause us daily confusion, stuckness or even suffering.
If you are a parent you'll know that raising our children has its ups and downs. Currently it's the teen and pre-teen phase in our household, but the same overwhelming array of advice and confusion has affected all stages of parenting from time to time. I just Googled 'How to parent a teenager' and a mere 149,000 hits showed up! And undoutably many of these views contradict and clash against each other. So how can we find the best individual pathway for each of us in these roles? It's not a 'one size fits all' issue. This is where the practical magic of shamanic connection just blew me away.
Empathy, instinct, rationalising, discussions with my husband and parents, even coaching tools such as the body compass which is my favourite Martha Beck Wayfinding decision making tool [free here] are all very useful when it comes to finding direction in next steps with the children. But the rollercoaster of parenting teens can still feel overwhelming and confusing from time to time. It often feels like my children are one step ahead of my ability to parent - and as soon as I've caught up, they move on to the next stage. Outwitted. Outflanked. Always the tortoise, not the hare!
Home can feel like the improvised British TV comedy 'Outnumbered' all too often! Here's a typical clip of the children in action, with harrassed Mum calling out if you haven't seen it and fancy a giggle at the kids being, well, kids!
Despite the ordinary, everyday parenting, for over 20 years now I've had a personal practice of 'core shamanism'. The label is tricky, but it's a way of learning to connect with our own animal and human form spirit guides in a very grounded manner to seek help, healing and advice in our everyday issues.
Core shamanism doesn't appropriate from other cultures as it takes the 'core' theme from animistic practices worldwide. It allows the individual to develp their own personal and deep relationship with spirit and to be shown how to create their own practice. In fact, these ways work for people of many or no religion as it is a practice, not a religion itself. For those who are really keen, there are ways to learn how to work with spirits to help others too. I do both, but starting with oneself is always the right way to go to ensure that we live it to give it.
So I used these ways of working to create an intention for a 'shamanic journey' that picked up on the presence of the New Moon that day. I wasn't particulary focused on parenting. I asked a very general question, 'What change can I bring into my life supported by the energy of the New Moon that would be most helpful for me'. I have found, over time, that weaving a shamanic 'mission' alongside the energy of the natural cycles of the Sun or Moon can bring a lot of additional power to the journey.
Me using one of my drums creating the rhythm used to travel to meet with my helping spirits. I have recorded a drumming track for me and my clients to use during solo shamanic journeys.
So I go to lie down, eyes covered, listening to my own pre-recorded shamanic drumming track, to delve into the 'journey'. As the familiar rhythm commences I find myself at my familiar place in nature, the place I meet with my spirits at the beginning and end of every shamanic journey done this way.
My spirit teacher meets me and takes me straight to the Upper World - the realm where I go for advice and wisdom and to talk about my path in life. We sit on a bench, and she holds me as I full body sob releasing tension. I feel confused and unsure how best to support my teen and in the intimate space of her presence this untapped sensation emerges, raw and engulfing. Yet in her calm, loving embrace I let go. For several minutes the tears flow - emotions I wasn't even aware I was holding on to as I went about my day.
As the grief subsides, she reaches into the familiar lake in front of us. Out of the still waters she pulls a Moon, the size of a grapefruit, balanced in the palm of her hand. She begins to show show me the Moon and how it relates to the Sun.
The Moon is perfect, whole and moving around the static Sun which shines fiercely and bright. The Moon is lit only in part by the Sun, and the Sun never sees the dark side of the Moon. I see how powerful both the Sun and Moon are, how individual and unique. How the Sun must shine unhampered. She shows me what happens if the Moon gets too close to the Sun, and the effect of the Moon being too far away. There is a 'Goldilocks' zone of the Moon's distance making it not too hot, not too cold, but just right. It's a transformative understanding, a deep knowing of all this, not just a mental ticklist of cosmic body attributes.
I realise deeply that without the Moon, the planets and all else in the Galaxy the Sun has no audience. The Sun needs the Moon to be recognised, validated and understood. This hits me powerfully, the dawning of a new perspective. Obvious to some, but obscured to me until that moment.
Finally she leans over to me, smiles and places the Moon in my heart. It disappears in form and somehow melts into me. I feel its energy, a sudden release and a deep feeling of peace and ease within.
The journey continues a little longer, but this experience is powerful and moving. I feel the comfort of my teacher as I let go of tears I didn't know I was holding on to and the calm that follows. With each demonstration of the Sun and the Moon and their interrelationship I start to understand that she's teaching me about how to parent. That I am the Moon. That my son is the Sun. That he cannot know all of me, and as an adolescent he needs space to shine, to be fierce, to be different to me and my needs.
Each part of the teaching hits me, unforgettably. It is more than a metaphor, a symbol. Each aspect of my spirit teacher's lesson is designed to resonate with me. It is personally chosen by her as the most direct way to get me to feel into the experience. All my senses are engaged in this experience. If you went to ask the same question you would get the answer most helpful to you. As it was, the others in the group who were journeying along with me experienced wisdom about totally different topics, perfectly related to them. Same mission; unique teachings.
I could have gone to ask my spirits directly about parenting, but this wasn't on my mind at the time. When we ask these broader questions it gives the spirits room to work. We're not seeking a narrow answer to a specific puzzle but throwing it open to our spirits to show us what we most need to know. The best practice combines both elements, focused questions and broader conversation openers. In all my courses, programmes and gatherings I aim to provide a weaving of these to help us to grow.
The important question is what's the actual, real life impact on me and my son? To do a journey can feel fun, exhilarating, moving, inspiring, challenging and so much more. But without an impact on our daily lives it is really simply escapism.
Firstly the awareness of our two different 'bodies' is deeply helpful. As me and my son interact I get to witness us as the Sun and Moon and am reminded that we are very different, and that distance is key. I know that he cannot, and should not, know me fully - at least, not yet. I realise my story is really irrelevant to him much of the time. Suddenly I see his fierce, adolescent outbursts, emotions and energy as power in their own right. As long as I keep my distance both emotionally or physically he can - he should! - shine. And yet I know I need to be there, just far enough away, to support him. To witness his growth, to reflect his light back to him, to be equally important but different.
I feel us moving around each other like planets, with the spaciousness of space, yet seeing each other clearly. And I am changed. When a helping spirit that we know and trust puts something into us - in this case 'the moon' - we receive its energy. It is often a healing for lost power. I had lost and given my power away in this relationship, and once she knew I had grieved and then understood her teaching, she returned me some power in a way that I felt physically during the journey. In a way that changes me forever.
I haven't asked my son to comment on how my shamanic journey has affected him. He's too busy eating the packet of Dorritos I would have complained about before. It's also hard to recreate the full impact of an eye roll in a blog post. But I'm guessing from the calmer waters in the lake of our household that all is progressing more harmoniously.
There are many other ways to work with spirits shamanically. This is but one example. But it shows how there is a practical aspect to this spiritual connection.
This wonderful mix of magic, wisdom and insight is yours for the taking too. Learn some good boundaries around how to practice. Get a good, solid and grounded instruction in the 'how to' of shamanism from a teacher you like and trust. In fact, the more I work with people the more I see how critical this is to saving time, energy, effort, false starts (or worse) and even money in the long run. Trust your heart and choose a human teacher wisely and you will learn so much more than you can imagine!
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Any comments or questions? Please email me help [at] joannashipley.co.uk or use the contact me page for an easy to use form.
Joanna helps people to connect to their heart, nature and spirit to live a life of more freedom and joy in sync with their heart's purpose.
She is a certified Martha Beck Wayfinder Life Coach and shamanic practitioner with over 20 years experience teaching and mentoring others. The foundation of her work is her desire to make the world a better place. One step at a time.
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