In the previous posting, I spoke about how I and my group had helped an old grandmother cross over while we were blessing the prayer rattles that we had made. When I realized what was going on, and had helped her cross past the Great Veil, I looked up an saw the outline of the dead tree seen in this photo silhouetted against the intensely blue sky. Through my tears, I recognized it as my Hell Sit Tree, which I had first encountered in the snow in the dark in March outside of Arnrprior, Ontario, Canada. While Ontario, Canada is quite a long ways from southern California in the USA, I had flown into the airport in Ontario, CA, so perhaps I should have known that I would re-live some of my shamanic experiences that I had had in Canada back in 2006.
My two years of the traditions of the Mohawk and Lakota Sioux were taught by Wes Geitz , a skilled tracker and teacher in the ways of indigenous peoples. Living in British Columbia, he has taught countless people multiple skills and has instituted programs to have elders become mentors in their communities. A group of us were fortunate enough to get him to come to Ontario, Canada and teach us. One of the more advanced lessons was a Hell Sit, in which you deliberately go to the Dark Side and ask it what lessons it has to show you.
Our group went out into the woods during the day and stomped clear spots in the snow with our feet for us to sit later that night. We built a large fire to light our way when we were to sit by ourselves in the dark that night and to serve as a beacon to which to return after being with ourselves and seeing what information there was to be learned. When we got there that night, I had chosen a spot not far from the fire, so I wouldn’t have too far to walk back. I had brought a lawn chair with me so I could be up off the ground, as my back was much worse back then. I was very grateful for the heavy sleeping bag I had also brought as I could snuggle into it to help keep the cold out. I turned my back from the fire, faced out into the darkness of the woods, and began to wait to see what I would be shown.
At first, all I could see where a lot of red eyes of various animals as they came near the fire to see what we were doing. I could hear some deer off in the woods, clashing antlers together as some males settled a dispute. I began to be disappointed, as I had been there about twenty minutes and had had no insights yet. It was about at this time that I resigned myself to I wasn’t going to get any messages. I had already done a lot of inner work, and had faced some of my demons, so perhaps, there was nothing there for me that night to be experienced except learning how to be with being uncomfortable in the snow in the dark.
It was about at this point of resignation that I looked over to my right and saw the outline of a dead tree stark against the darkness of the night sky. It looked as if a scarecrow was hanging limply by its outstretched arms from two horizontal branches. I realized that I was that scarecrow, and all of the misery I was feeling was self-made. I was allowing myself to be miserable, not only in the cold, but in my life back home. I was the one who had put myself up there, on that Tree of Desolation, and I was the only one who could take myself down.
That was a pretty big insight in my spiritual growth, and oftentimes, I do remember it, especially when I’m in chronic pain. (See previous posting.) So, while Southern California is a long ways from Ontario, Canada, and the vegetation is very different, I recognized my Hell Sit Tree as I sat directly across from it during the prayer rattle blessing ceremony. “So, you paying attention, Nance?” I heard the Universe asking. “You can allow yourself to ‘hang’ from this tree and be miserable, or not. Your choice!”. I thanked the Universe and offered up a thank you that the relearning of this lesson had not been any more severe than a little nausea and some grumpy thoughts about friends. I had been blessed to help “Grandmother Moon” cross over and now had a new spirit guide. No wonder the walk back was so much easier than the one coming out.
Have you had moments of great insights after having triumphed over a trial? Which parts of that experience were key for you to get the whole lesson for that moment in time?
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