(Please note that my new Blog is now 'Ancient Spirit' at elizabethrudwick.blogspot.co.uk)
When new to Shamanism people often assume that there are key ones - the flashy good looking ones! Like Eagle or Tiger which are the usual and 'better' Animal Guides. And in the Western mind we all to easily place everything under a hierarchy. So it is of no surprise I think that I have been with people who have felt disappointed in their first meetings with Guides. Which while I am aware is not only sad and a challenge for the individual/person but also their Guide. It is important to acknowledge that this process is also part of their journey and Healing. And so it is not that they are doing 'it wrong'. In fact one could say they are going that much deeper with their Healing and are doing 'it right'!
Embracing a new Guide can be akin to a Soul Retrieval - connecting to a lost part of yourself. Where along with those parts which were buried due to pain also contain so much diversity gifts and healing. On one of my most recent meetings with a new Guide; I knew that I was meeting a significant (animal) Guide coos I was so scared. For where there is fear there is power. And I knew that this Guide had come because I was ready to embrace them. Reclaim and expand. It is OK to take time. And it is also ok ask for guidance and support with this journey. Like meeting people from different lands and cultures it can be helpful to have an interpreter. And if this process takes time - all the better!
Sometimes it can take weeks or months to fully integrate - where we are asked to journey many times and in different ways. For instance through a Shamanic led journey to the underworld, through dreaming during sleep, day dreaming, drawing and writing, sharing and talking, being in nature either going on a walk or taking a holiday and/or through therapy. So if your journey takes you through such varied and diverse landscape - enjoy! No need to rush! I have been to far too many workshops where the facilitator/ Teacher packs in tool and experience one after the other. Not allowing time. And not preparing their students for their journey to continue past the workshop/teaching space. This for me does not allow deep exploration healing or joy. Just skims the surface. Where the destination is seen as the goal. I think that is part of being in contemporary western society and for me is the antithesis of what I would describe as Shamanic.
For me Shamanic is about becoming more sensitive, becoming more still and present. Listening. Again there is a I think a common perception that Shamanic automatically means loud ecstatic states accompanied by loud music, drumming and plant hallucinogens. While yes sometimes this can be the case. It is not always necessary or even desirable in every situation or for everyone. For a Guide to make themselves known I find they can be heard if you are not filling up your space and head with a lot of external or internal mental/emotional 'noise'. Yes sometimes stopping that noise can be achieved through Trance Dance or Drumming. Sometimes we just need to slow down and breathe. Ground and come into our bodies. Stop running. Be present in the now. Be gentle and kind with ourselves.
Guides - animal/vegetable/angelic/ancestors you name it! - can come and go. And don't give big lingering goodbyes. As soon as they've done their job or you have moved on. Of course it is also important to note here - that like friends Guides are here to be with us. So if you forget them - they will have something to say about it! And if you don't give regular time and space they can become impatient and can be pushy. If this happens and they keep interrupting your sleep for instance by waking you up. Take note. Don't panic! Just pay attention and make some space. As I have said it is not necessary to always be in trance or drumming for instance to be with your Guide. Go with what resonates and allows your Soul to Sing. Is it a walk by the Beach? Is it sitting by the Fire? Is it dancing to your favour music?
If you find a Guide has departed - they have left in order to make space for another to come in. And Guides can return. Some might be with you for years. I have many bird Spirit Guides. And I most recently have been drawn to Woodcock. And what's wonderful is the surprise.If you are interested in reading some more on Woodcock - Here is a thorough intro to Woodcock medicine by 'The Spirit Keeper' -
The woodcock is a somewhat bulky wading bird with rather short legs, and a very long straight tapering bill. It is largely nocturnal, spending most of the day in dense cover. Most of the Woodcocks in the UK are residents; in the autumn Woodcocks move to the UK from Finland and Russia to winter here.
The woodcock has the uncanny ability to remain motionless until disturbed and then takes off in in a flurry of movement. It holds the element of surprise so teaches us to pay attention to the proper use of timing in our lives.
Because the woodcocks eyes are set father back on its head than other birds it has a 360 degree field of vision. Its ears are located below rather than behind the eye sockets. Those with this medicine are natural born visionaries and see things in an expanded way. They intuitively understand the deeper reasons of a situation and make excellent counsellor's and therapists.
The woodcock lives mainly on earthworms, which it attracts to the surface by drumming with its feet and then extracts the worms as they surface, with its long sensitive bill.
The woodcock nests in early spring. Its wings are rounded and the outermost wing feathers are attenuated to produce vibratory sounds during flight. The male’s aerial song, a sweet varied whistling accompanies its courtship displays which are exquisitely graceful. Its spiraling flight upward 200 to 300 feet is followed by a fluttering drop back to the starting point. Vocal expression in the form of chanting or singing is recommended for those with this totem.
The woodcock uses all of its senses to the fullest. It responds to what it hears, sees and feels and asks us to do the same. Skillful and intelligent this little bird can show us how to awaken and refine our inner and outer worlds. All we need to do is pay attention and then act accordingly.
Here is a Woodcock tail, the photos below. The top side, showing the beautiful markings on the plumage, the beautifully soft underside, where the feathers are tipped in stark white. The tail is flicked upwards showing the brilliant white tips during courtship.
And in the final picture the Woodcock itself.
Spirit Keeper - http://www.thespiritkeeper.co.uk