All posts by Carol

Balsamic Moon * Mystery, Death, Rebirth

Each Moon Phase provides valuable insight into the Soul Plan as revealed in the Birth Chart. There is one Moon Phase, however, so dramatic in its impact that it often seems to be the major force behind the person’s entire Life Plan.

The Moon Influences All Life On Earth

The Moon has profound influence over life on Earth, probably in ways we don’t yet fully comprehend. We do know the great seas and oceans pulse in and out in accordance with Grandmother Moon’s rhythms, and it has been known since our earliest human origins that the Moon’s waxing and waning light shining down on Earth creates mini-seasons in life cycles for plant, animal and human life here on Earth. The Moon also apparently helps stabilize Earth’s axis, and there may be other influences we have yet to discover.

In the course of its monthly orbit (circle) of the Earth, the Moon goes through 8 distinct phases marked by how much light it is reflecting from the Sun:

New Moon, Waxing Crescent, First Quarter, Waxing Gibbous, Full Moon, Waning Gibbous, Third Quarter, Waning Crescent also called the Balsamic or Dark Moon.

Each of these 8 phases equals 45 degrees of the Moon’s orbital Circle of 360 degrees which takes just slightly less than one of our calendar months to complete.

One Moon phase lasts 2 to 3 days per month and carries within it very particular energy making it a good “season” for certain pursuits and not so good for others. Gardeners are particularly aware of these seasons in the Moon’s orbit for the planting and growing cycles.

In each lifetime, we are born during one of these 8 Moon Phases, and, like other life on Earth, we seem to be affected, however subtly, by the unique energy of our Moon Phase. It is possible, though not actually known, that we incarnate in a sequence of lifetimes corresponding to the 8 Phases of the Moon. If we are born under the Balsamic Moon Phase in this lifetime, are we going to be born under a New Moon in the next lifetime?

Even if, as many now believe, our lifetimes may be simultaneous, it is likely there is still a bio-vibrational connection through Space-Time which allows a sequence to unfold, albeit in ways we cannot quite comprehend…

In the Birth Chart the Moon Phase is identified by determining how many degrees ahead of or behind the Sun our Moon’s position is found. Some Astrology software identifies this for us, but manually we can find the Moon Phase by counting backwards or ahead of the Sun through the Signs (30 degrees per Sign) to find our Moon.

Each Moon Phase provides valuable insight into the Soul Plan as revealed in the Birth Chart. There is one Moon Phase, however, so dramatic in its impact that it often seems to be the major force behind the person’s entire Life Plan.

I am talking about the Final Phase, the last Sliver of Silver – the Balsamic Moon, associated mainly with Winter, Scorpio, and Pluto along with Capricorn and Saturn. This Moon Phase affects people who have it in their birth chart more than any other Moon Phase I have seen.

There are charts which lay out the number of degrees between Sun and Moon for each of the 8 Phases, but for our purposes here a Balsamic Moon is one that is found between 0 and 45 degrees “behind” the Sun in the Birth Chart. This makes sense, because a Balsamic Moon is the last of the 8 Phases, before the Moon merges with the Sun to become a New Moon.

A Balsamic Lifetime

This is a lifetime in which large parts of the Karmic Web are dissolving. Our task is simply to accept this with grace and pure love. The Balsamic Moon is also the Shaman’s Moon.

Those born under it will be drawn to a spiritual path at some point in their lives, for only the inspiration of Higher Mind – and the guidance of the Higher Self – can make this life of Endings into a profoundly meaningful Journey.

The Balsamic Moon is almost invisible in the predawn sky, having faded to a slim murky crescent. Each month, for about three days before the New Moon, we all live under this Balsamic “Dying” Phase of the Moon…This is when we are most in tune with the Shamanic forces in Nature and within the Human Psyche. Make special time now, with your favorite incense, to commune…

Beginnings and Endings

With the Balsamic Moon, the first thing we notice is that Endings – of relationships of all kinds in particular – seem more plentiful than Beginnings. How can this be? The answer lies in the fact that Balsamic Moon people tend not to begin new relationships so much as they inherit them. This is not the lifetime for new relationships and one often has that odd feeling, on meeting someone: “You look so interesting, but not now, not yet, I have other things to finish and I have no room for you till I do“….

Other people, though, tend to arrive as if they had never left. They seem more like family, whether friends or lovers. These are the relationships that are not, apparently, optional; these we must attend to, and there so often is a sense of drama to the meeting, and as the relationship enters one’s life.

We may “inherit” a friend from our parents, or from another friend who then disappears, leaving us with the new acquisition which may or may not have been someone you would have chosen freely. Even jobs often arrive in a similar fashion, passed to us from another. Despite the Balsamic Moon person’s chosen career or jobs, other working and training opportunities seem to simply walk in and take over.

Like hand-me-downs, these friends, family, jobs, and “opportunities” are all (usually) received with gratitude but also a faint murmur of resistance, if not resentment,not recognized sometimes for many years. We may look back and think….”if I had to do it over again, I would have found a way to close the door….”

The Returning

As if it were not enough that we keep inheriting situations and people (and we eventually can see “old patterns” here), we also have a tendency to return – Returning to old jobs, old homes, old scenes, and old relationships, sometimes again and again. It takes awhile to notice that without such returns, there might have been little else to fill the gaps…The idea of Return is a powerful one, and as with so many of the mysteries in the life of the Balsamic Moon person, it yields some rich finds when excavated more thoroughly in time…

Karmic Work

One thing we can take for granted here. There is a deeply karmic nature to these connections – the Beginnings, Endings, and Returnings. That is what makes the Balsamic Moon Phase unique – it seems designed for a Soul to work almost exclusively on tying up loose threads of old, difficult situations. I have likened this Moon Phase to the Fourth and Final Age – the Dark Kali Yuga – for it seems to off similar karmic opportunities to humanity in the midst of what can seem like Dark Times…

Sometimes karma, like fruit, has to “ripen” before it can be properly removed from the Tree and processed. Not everyone involved incarnates at the same time, for example. When we do, we grab the first opportunity to meet and exchange what we need to – and sometimes that’s about all there is. This goes completely against the social grain, for we expect to cultivate and retain relationships – indeed there is very strong social pressure to do so or be deemed neurotic.

In light of many lifetimes, however, we can at least realize that there are many threads in the fabric we cannot see – and we need to simply trust the feeling; it will usually be mutual.

Planet Pluto * Ice, Mystery, Hidden

Scorpio and Pluto * Mystery and Deception

Just because a situation is karmic doesn’t mean it always ends “well” – at least in our limited view. The Balsamic Moon resonates to Scorpio, which, with its ruling planet Pluto, brings mysterious, death-like processes which cannot be intellectually grasped so much as simply lived through.

With the Balsamic Moon, we do not seem to ever really know what was really going on, either during the relationship or when it ended. Motives and activities of others may well remain hidden in a variety of ways, including deception on a grand scale of which we are blissfully unaware at the time.

We may wonder for years “Whatever was going on in that situation?” only to discover through a chance conversation out of the blue, years later, and with someone only marginally involved, a missing piece of the puzzle. ( In my case a DNA test inadvertently confirmed an old story that my Dad (long passed away) was not my biological father).

When we get these pieces dropped into our lives, we ponder the Past in new light and it can been enormously illuminating. We catch a glimpse of a Beginning, a possible Future. But even with the new piece, the puzzle remains incomplete, and even with karmic insights, we will never fully see the whole puzzle in its completed form.

The Tree of the Higher Self, Centre of Self in the desert we sometimes find to be life….

This is good – we begin to see we are not in charge, that we are not the creator of our lives in quite the way we may have been told or encouraged to think we are. We have to sit under the Tree, and ponder the roots, branches, and leaves of Life as a mystery in which we participate, yet are not sole Authors. So we gradually, reluctantly, learn to let go…

For with the Balsamic Moon, even when people, places and situations are gone, they remain behind as our Koans, the transformative devices in Zen Buddhism with which we wrestle intellectually and psychologically until, exhausted, a breakthrough occurs, and we rise above the opposites, outside the riddle, into a resolution which could never have been foreseen.

People, work and living environments remain unsettled and unsettling elements of our life Story until these magic moments, often years later, when we really can, unexpectedly, see forever.

Under the Balsamic Moon, our Life is designed to ensure that we get all that there is to learn, one last sip from the Cup, before it, and its special content, are laid aside forever. There is that feeling, so often, that one must make one last effort in the old relationship or situation. If we do, though, the outcome will seldom be success by any formulation; yet it seems hard, if not impossible, to shut the door on this person, or this job offer, on this old familiar landmark of one’s life, despite the previous disappointments from this quarter.

Gone With the Wind

Finally, though, there will come a time when leaving, or closing that door will seem like the right thing, and the only thing, to do. That may even turn out to be the real lesson – that it is okay to leave, to turn away, to turn down. Is that what the Shaman must learn – that we do not and cannot have the control so many deem the mark of material, psychological and spiritual success?

This would explain why the letting go of such fated entanglements is so very necessary, and so very hard. It feels like Death, and indeed, on many occasions, the person will actually die or the workplace will dissolve and close. A nation-state may end, one’s wealth may evaporate. As in the classic movie – its subtitle was “A civilization, gone with the wind…In these experiences, it feels as if a part of the Self has died, and there is an inner distress, a scramble to hold one’s Center, and then to see if one can rebuild from the parts that are left.

And all this seems inevitable, like the leaves falling from the trees in late October, like the great snows sheltering the land till the first faint breezes of Spring.

Yet there is another inevitability there to be sensed. Under a Balsamic Moon, we are creating our Future, and catch glimpses of it when we are in the Faerie, or fey moods which border on inspiration but also deep despair.

In our meditations, so necessary in a Balsamic Moon lifetime, we may often be “given” to see how pieces fit, how they are shaping us, and shaping another lifetime….We are rewarded, it seems, for keeping faith and working away at our lessons, for with time, we learn to see as we are meant to see under this Moon.

We must not be disappointed or feel like failures if we don’t seem able to get large new projects off the ground, or keep them afloat once we do. No energy is ever lost – all that work will fit nicely into new currents in other lifetimes. Or it may, in this lifetime, be carefully siphoned off, assigned to other “accounts” – of which we remain blissfully unaware – into which we need make payment….

For now, though, we surrender to what is here, in front of us, sitting at the Window watching the River roll on, going home to the Sea, carrying so many things from our lives. The River knows its destiny – what is leaving our lives is ready to leave.

When the River has gone, We will remain.

When those relationships and situations have disappeared from view, something new, which already feels very Old, will replace them, for a little while again.

To Every Thing There is a Season…Including Death

In a strange, haunting way, the Balsamic Moon prepares us, through many small deaths, for the Death we tend to fear, of the physical body and the familiar world around us.

The Balsamic Moon brings many gifts, Chief among these is the deepening of our perceptions, as we go through such deep Plutonic relationships, intense, short, and characterized by often strange or excruciating endings. We ponder the true meaning of Life in those times; we understand more and more that there are indeed Seasons, and among these is Winter.

It is a lifetime to develop patience, tolerance, faith, and love in the face of losses, and situations which could leave one feeling lost, without a Life Plan, left with mysteries and disillusionment. It is in coping with these that one grows strong, and at last, achieves an inner peace that is without price.

When we experience deaths under a Balsamic Moon, we are offered an entire lifetime of opportunity to come to terms with “letting go” and surrendering in absolute trust and openness to the Flow. Gradually, we get it, that control is not something we actually have, and more importantly, it is not something we need.

When it is time to leave the body, the person born under a Balsamic Moon will have had many rehearsals with Death and its mysterious purposes. We will have had many opportunities to make our peace in and with many Endings. Part of this is releasing those who leave our lives with blessings, holding them close to us in forgiveness and love, giving them all the space they apparently need. We too have needed the space, though we so often did not know why…

The Balsamic Moon teaches us that relationships are for learning, not for owning.

Shaman’s Moon
The Balsamic Moon can thus be understood also as the Shaman’s Moon. Those born under it will be drawn to a spiritual path early in life, for only the life of Mind and Spirit can make this life of Endings into a profoundly meaningful Journey.

Only through truly Shamanic healing can such individuals penetrate the depths of their own psyche, and surface with the strength to live another day. In the magically reflective Mirror of the Balsamic Moon, we see at last what is real. In our solitary reflections, we gradually transform in ways we could not have set out to orchestrate ourselves.

And though it can be a lonely lifetime, the Balsamic Moon fits well with the natural (and enforced) solitude of the Shaman. Despite its hardships, the Path under this Moon is the one the Shaman must travel, and this truth makes itself known very early in his or her life. It is possible that under a Balsamic Moon, one will revisits, remember, relive other lives as a Shaman, in Far Memory, so that this is a time of the Transitional Shaman, suspended between ancient and modern, Eastern and Western, Indigenous and Essential forms of Shamanism.

The Shaman encounters Death in all forms. Yet, in surrendering to Death, we surrender also to Life, and this seems, in the end, to be the secret Beginning.

© Carol Leigh Rice 2015 and 2016 and 2021.

Note:  Parts of this post have been copy/pasted into other posts or articles on the internet, despite the above copyrights. Please consult with me before doing this, or at least ensure that you attribute the material to Carol Leigh Rice, the author.

Shamanism * Journey To the West

Just as key elements of Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism and Zen have come in successive waves to renew a weary, post-modern West, so Shamanism has touched a chord in the Western soul. At the grass-roots cultural level in the West, it is impossible to ignore the rising tide of interest and apparent value gained in shamanic explorations. Across the Internet, our new Silk Road, blogs and websites featuring Shamanism have sprung up like flowers after desert rain. Here, I consider that a core, or pure Shamanism, underlies ancient forms found in the East, and suggest that this great tradition has begun at last its journey to the West.

What do we mean by Shamanism? This is a question which often divides western practitioners of Shamanism from each other, and sets them at odds with traditional or indigenous shamanic cultures. In my view, taken from the words of indigenous shamans, there is a core Shamanism which is rooted in Mind and its ability to manipulate reality through manipulating Symbol.

Shamanism, quantum physics and the emerging medical field of neuroplasticity blend together as we find not only our Universe, but its Source, and connect to it in the subatomic lives of our DNA, of our very cells. In what has been called the Divine Matrix, in The DreamTime, and in quantum physics ancient and modern, East and West cosmologies now meet. In its journey to the West, it may be that traditional Shamanism is finding a way to articulate its ancient, magical truths to a world that is finally ready to understand them in universal terms.

In its journey to the West Shamanism has encountered depth psychology and quantum physics.  This encounter opens the way for western minds to understand Shamanism as a powerful paradigm forming a bridge between mind and body, between psychology and spirituality, and above all, linking humanity and the cosmos. 

Carl G. Jung serves as a living example of the Shaman’s role – all cultures – as a bridge between worlds, for it is his work, embracing insights from psychiatry, alchemy, modern physics, astrology, and Eastern thought, which placed Shamanism in a context which can be understood by the western mind. Remarkably, his closest friends referred to Jung “the Shaman.”

Shamansim, at its core, has powerful, universal, transformative features which seem to be natural functions of the human psyche/higher Mind.  Yet it remains doubtful if all human beings can be Shamans.  In Indigenous traditions, only a small number appear and these are usually called (often against their will), unlike the many eager participants showing up for western courses in shamanism.  Most indigenous shamans embrace their role after a struggle, because of serious mental and/or physical illnesses which seem to be overcome only by accepting the demanding work of “shamanizing.”

Usually those called come from a genetic line of shamans, supporting the idea that shamanism is grounded in Body/Mind attributes which cannot simply be acquired in the kinds of courses in Shamanism currently offered in the West. As in the East, western shamans may find they are called by a series of life circumstances and health conditions to find their destiny in a kind of work for which there is no real counterpart as yet in western medical or scientific understanding.

It may even be that shamanizing, for most, is too demanding as a personal or community practice without leaning heavily on costume, ritual, drumming, and community belief in order to survive the severe challenges of Mind in such a unique and lonely role.  For some, however, Shamanism beckons as a personal way of life which, as Carl Jung found, is not entirely voluntary, even when discovered and accepted as a private solitary path.

Why Shamanism At All, For the West?
In my writing about spiritual and psychological life, I often refer to shamanism and to acts, events, or moments that I call shamanic. Why do I do this? Why do westerners like myself want to import the exotic concepts of Shamanism into mental health and spiritual practices?

The answer lies in the fact that so many western practices – both in psychology and in spiritual life – have proved only partially successful in helping us live our daily lives and help others to do the same. We have turned increasingly to other cultures for inspiration, and in the encounter with Shamanism, quickly realized that Shamanism not only has unique practices but actually names phenomena which have found no conceptual expression in Western thought.

A great deal of our psychological and spiritual experience has slipped through the nets of western theories, and as a result, remained out of therapeutic reach.

As a professional psychic, dreamwork leader, astrologer, lay student of psychology, and practitioner of Carl Jung’s “Active Imagination” for over 40 years, I came to see that Shamanism was the only named tradition which both described and to some extent explained the dynamic transformations of energy at play in the interior life.

We are involved in dramatic action, not mere contemplation, when we make connections with our unconscious in waking or hypnagogic states. We travel back to important moments of critical emotional events, arising from one or more kinds of real-life events, and these are still amenable – from the platform of the Present – to the healing and transformational properties of the Mind.The subpersonalities which Carl Jung described can be detected in psychic readings and dream work, and they do appear to siphon off and deploy our energy, and even subvert our life plans, without our knowledge…I came to believe that in working with these parts of the Psyche we engage in dynamic integrative processes which only the Shamanic concept of soul retrieval truly names – and thus identifies – so that we can set out on a more or less coherent path of growth through self-knowledge and judicious adjustments within the Psyche.

And, as a former academic, with an M.A. and 2 years in a Ph.D. program in Political Science, matching theories to reality seems vital to me. If Western traditions do not provide theories or therapies to detect and heal or even celebrate our inner lives, isn’t it time we adopted the one notable tradition – Shamanism – that seems to do this quite well?

Stripped to an essence which I believe revolves around all levels of Mind, (conscious, unconscious, and Higher Mind or Soul) the great undisputed strength of Shamanism is its observed, natural origin within the human Psyche and, as it turns out, the language of the Psyche is Symbol. Dreams, visions, music, art, and above all synchronicity, all communicate vital messages to us via symbolic, not spoken, language…

The Nature of Indigenous Shamanism * The Training
Traditional Shamanism, such as found in some (but not all) Australian, Siberian, South American, Eskimo, and North American indigenous cultures, features heavily ritualized elements and practice. These include masks, dancing, sacred tools, mind-altering substances, drumming, trance, animal and human spirit “allies”, and magical yet real journeys undertaken to heal and to effect desired outcomes far from the Shaman’s home base.

Traditional Shamanism has a strong focus on travels to dark and frightening realms to rescue lost souls or to aid them in their passage through death. The Shaman’s world in most cultures is one of Good and Evil, of the Dark and the Light.

Most Shamans learn their craft in long (10 years or more) apprenticeships under the intimate guidance of another Shaman, culminating in a critical rite of passage and initiation. All apprentice training, like shamanic practice itself, carries inherent physical, mental and spiritual risk. Great physical and psychological courage is required to endure the privations of ritual and journey, as well as assaults from dark, or evil forces.

Some western Shamans have made long and arduous personal journeys to serve their time apprenticed to a traditional Shaman. They strongly resist the idea that a Shaman can be born in any other way. They – and Elders of traditional societies – look at books and workshops in the West about “urban Shamanism” or “core Shamanism” and are offended at what seems to be a shallow rip-off of a sacred, and hard-won identity.

They say it is impossible to uproot Shamanism from its traditional rich matrix, that no one can become a Shaman unless born, or immersed for decades, within a shamanic culture to which they are then called in ways they dare not refuse.

Often, the head of a western Shamanism institute is someone who has personally been initiated by a traditional Shaman – or at least, with all due respect, he or she says this training took place. However, the training of apprentices is done in western settings using techniques which may mimic but can never more than approximate the actual apprenticeship of many years to a Shaman in Peru, or Siberia.

Carl G. Jung, great psychiatrist, student of the unconscious, alchemy, symbol, synchronicity, and self-healing power of mandala work.

The Extraordinary, Even Unbalanced, Personality
A western Shaman, even if trained in the traditional way, cannot replicate the rough-hewn persona of the traditional Shaman who is often a feared, mysterious and lone figure.

The haughty aloofness and disinterest in training others informs the mystique of the traditional Shaman. This is a posture or psychological disposition quite alien to western psychiatry or ideals of spiritual mentorship.

Yet it is a fact that Masters in many traditions, for example Zen Buddhism, and Hinduism, do cultivate an aloof, enigmatic persona as part of the training of disciples. Stern treatment, even outright rejection, seem part of traditional Teacher-Student bonding and initiatory practice.

It is also true that in every indigenous culture, the one called to be a Shaman appears to be someone who, in the beginning at least, is suffering from serious, even severe personality and mental strain. Some leave their communities and live alone in deserted areas, while the community waits to see if the “exile” will receive a calling and return as a more balanced, still unusually powerful, charismatic, personality. Carl G. Jung’s reported experiences would suggest schizophrenia to many western psychiatrists; his near-death experiences, his Red Book mandalas and musings therein might be seen as the work of a desperate, troubled mind.

Many researchers have noted that it seems that the “cure” for these various disorders lies only in accepting their integration in, and thus transformation through, what the culture understands to be the identity and role of the Shaman. And indeed, Carl Jung seems to be the perfect example of one who struggled in silent anguish with his emerging gifts of mind and personality, recognizing he had only one road to health and that was to find a way to integrate all that he was in the process of becoming.

Seldom is this journey to Shamanism reported in the West, even by those who label themselves shamans after undertaking training in an indigenous setting. By way of contrast, western cultures fear personality derangement the way indigenous cultures fear demons.

In the West, we demonize “the loner” – we don’t see him or her as a potential Shaman with a possible mission as doctor to the community. In fact, it has become the usual practice of the media to pin most public crimes, where possible, on these “loners”.

We do not look to people suffering mental illness, much less social isolation, as even potential healers, even when we refrain from wanting to lock them up. We want our counselors and healers to demonstrate – through long academic and institution-based training – how “together” and well-balanced they are, before we entrust ourselves to their care.

It is interesting, in that context, to note how high the suicide rate is among psychiatrists in the West, suggesting that the risk for the would-be healer of the Psyche is high in any culture. It seems clear that the tradition of healing in the West is failing the healers and that likely has a great deal to do with why we are failing the sick.

It would therefore be tempting to say that westerners simply cannot and should not try to become Shamans, much less try to teach Shamanism to others. We simply do not have the cultural or personal tolerance for the extreme, even bizarre personality types who seem best suited to channel “the gifts of the Shaman”.

Yet there are two reasons why this would be wrong, and why it would be healthier for the West to cast off its prejudices and embrace Shamanism in westernized forms which make room for culture-challenging indigenous features;

The Shaman’s Last Journey by Charles Frizzell

Sending Forth A Call
First, Shamanism seems to have come to the West as if it were “sent” as a gift to our civilization. It is the latest gift to travel a still-living Silk Road to the heart of the West.

Just as key elements of Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism and Zen have come in successive waves to renew a weary, post-modern West, so Shamanism has touched a chord in the Western soul. At the grass-roots cultural level in the West, it is impossible to ignore the rising tide of interest and apparent value gained in shamanic explorations. Across the Internet, blogs and websites featuring Shamanism have sprung up like flowers after desert rain.

In fact, Shamanism actually appears to come looking for those who are open to spiritual growth . Is it not possible that, in its spiritual poverty, the West has been calling at an unconscious level, for the Spirit of Shamanism? And what might Shamanism have to gain, in its encounter with the West?

There is a precedent here, in the arrival of the I Ching – in its first full-dress, academic appearance – in the West. On the first major translation of the Chinese I Ching or Book of Changes for publication in the West, Carl Jung was asked to write the forward. He did so, and in the forward, he posed the question in the formal manner to the I Ching as to how it felt about its journey to the West:

Hexagram 50 “Ting” or Cauldron/Rejuvenation, from the I Ching, China’s most ancient book of wisdom; Book of Changes – how reality is transformed with Human Being as the transformative agent…

Thus it occurred to me that it might interest the uninitiated reader to see the I Ching at work. For this purpose I made an experiment strictly in accordance with the Chinese conception: I personified the book in a sense, asking its judgment about its present situation, i.e., my intention to present it to the Western mind. (Carl Jung, Forward to the I Ching)

It strikes me that we need Jung here now, to consult in an equally ceremonial manner with the Spirit of Shamanism. Yet perhaps it is enough, for the moment, that it feels as if Shamanism has come to the West in the same spirit as have the monks of Tibetan Buddhism and the Yogis of India – in love, and with offerings of Light.

Certainly it is not uncommon for people (like myself) to go from having no interest at all in Shamanism for most of their life, to finding themselves interacting in meditation, dreams, synchronicities with animal allies and other phenomena associated exclusively with shamanic traditions. Shamanism itself seems above the controversy about its arrival in the West, sending out its own warm sun and soft rains to those who have upturned faces.

Shamanism Works
A second reason for the West to open its arms to Shamanism is that even in its westernized forms shamanism works. Many people find that dramatic events in their spiritual life, often tied to remarkable psychological changes, are not explained or even recognized by traditional religions, psychiatry or psychology. They are, however, described quite clearly in books and articles about Shamanism.

On welcoming these shamanic ideas and techniques into their lives, people feel an awakening not achieved in their traditional religion, New Age beliefs, yoga or Buddhist meditation. For the first time, something comes alive within, truly healing, truly life-giving. There is a thrill, a quickening, a sense of connection at a level almost too deep for words, with our origins, the place where Creation begins.

Shamanism is a growing subculture at all levels of society in the West. It appears to be infiltrating paradigm after paradigm as a way of seeing, and as a way of transforming. From conflict resolution to education, psychotherapy and physical healing, professionals in many fields find that Shamanism – even removed from its traditional cultural matrix – triggers dynamic psychic action which actually transforms.

This begs the question then – how “adulterated” can westernized Shamanism be if it works at least as well for westerners as it does in its pure forms in traditional societies?

A New Paradigm

A new paradigm of shamanism for the West would recognize that traditional Shamanism emerged as a natural and spontaneous expression of the human psyche and its relationship to the cosmos in which it is embedded.  However, rather than mimic indigenous forms, a new western shamanism would do what the West does best – come to grips with the essential scientific and metaphysical nature of Shamanism and what this tells us about humanity and its relationship to the universe.

Indeed, it may be time to risk the boldness of questioning ancient forms of Shamanism – might it be less than it could be? Has it in many times and places congealed around form, at the risk of substance? Does it need to be in tension with science, or is it time for Shamanism to move on?  If Shamanism has made its journey to the West, it may be seeking – as revealed in Jung’s answer from the I Ching – its own rejuventation.

For the spiritual power of Shamanism, I think, does not lie in forms but in what the forms concealed and transmitted.

In recognizing the Psyche as a bridge to the Soul, Shamanism opens portals within the Psyche through which the Soul, in the form of the Higher Self, enters worlds not bound by Space or Time. These worlds have been called by many names in all cultures: The DreamTime, the Fourth Dimension, the Source Dimension, the Divine Matrix, and so on.

It was described by the sages of India long ago, and is reached in the “Quantum Healing” described by Deepak Chopra; it is the “place” (really a state) which is where advanced Yogis speak of cleansing the samskara, or karmic traces, from one’s very cells. In Islam, long before Carl Jung made Active Imagination a common term in depth psychology, Avicenna described the imaginal realm beyond space and time where Reality itself can be created.

Here, where all is connected, and indeed where Mind and Matter are One, the Soul moves freely in Symbol, its natural language. Here the Soul locates the master Templates in which alchemical changes can be made. In these great Flights, the Soul is transported – when it is ready – on wings of its own, though all traditions speak of the presence of Allies who seem to be natural beings, though in their Archetypal energy forms, such as Buffalo, Wolf, Eagle, Bear, and so on.

I suggested earlier that if Carl Jung were here now, he might have asked Shamanism directly, as he did with the I Ching, how it felt about coming to the West. It occurs to me that Shamanism might have answered thus: “I come to the West to find Myself anew.”

© Carol Leigh Rice 2016, Revised 2021


Beginnings * My First Psychic Pictures

Hillshore on the Bay of Quinte, c. 1954

I was no more than ten, sitting on the back steps that led into the old extra room, really a storage shed, tacked onto the farmhouse at Hillshore. In there, we kept our piles of chopped wood for the ancient black cook stove, “Beulah”.

It was also the place where Rocket, our large bullmastiff, used to sleep with Patsy, the small black Labrador cross, tucked close to Rocket’s tummy for warmth. Our stolid bodyguard, a cat named Sir Pook of Quinte, would ensconce himself on Rocket’s back and in this fashion the trio would settle in for their night’s sleep.

The day came, however, when Dad tore down the old shed with its step, and we could go directly across the small gulley to the larger apple orchard. Rocket was allocated his own suite of rooms in the barn for winter, Patsy was given hers close by, and Sir Pook of Quinte had by then inveigled himself into becoming a House Cat….

But the old steps and shed were still there when I settled in that evening in the late fall after supper. It was almost dark, and a light mist had fallen over the Bay. It was quite usual for me to find an odd spot to ponder things. I was a thoughtful, only child, very interested in the deeper questions of life.

Bay of Quinte shores, southern Ontario

So as I sat there on the old steps, I was fascinated by the large auras of mist around the trees that lined our waterfront along the beautiful Bay of Quinte, and stood in groups in our apple orchard.

I felt myself merging with those misty apparitions, and as I gazed at them, a series of pictures began to form in my mind.

I know now that such pictures are a form Active Imagination, a kind of dreaming, during which the conscious mind and therefore the Ego both remain awake, participating in the spiritual, clairvoyant, and often psychological revelations of the Higher Self (and sometimes of one’s spirit guides). These pictures or images “come in”, one might say, like a text message.

These were the pictures that, in the future, would always be there on request when I gave professional life readings. They enter my mind spontaneously as I pore over my clients’ birth charts.  These were the pictures that would light my Path in the darkest of times.

Continue reading Beginnings * My First Psychic Pictures

Karma Dreaming * Advanced Shamanic Astrology

I have studied Astrology from many perspectives – history, new psychics, the language of DNA, symbol and psyche, pychology, prediction, past lives, and so on. Underlying all of these is the theme of Shamanism, and the way it brings the birth chart alive.

A shaman in indigenous cultures means one who is a “bridge between worlds”.  Shamans travel across time and space, linking minds, bodies, souls, and animals in a healing, transformative way.  In Astrology, the shamanic element lies in connecting spiritually with the karmic patterns shown in the birth chart, thus connecting with the client’s Akashic Records. It is very likely that we carry our Akashic Record is encoded – as a spiritual DNA – within our physical DNA – but more on that in another post!

In perceiving and describing Karmic patterns in the birth chart, the Shamanic astrologer initiates the client into what I call Karma Dreaming for it is through the power of naming that we bring the karma of the client within transformative range of his or her Higher Mind.

I’ll talk more about Karma Dreaming below…

In Shamanic astrology, we assume that the Circle of the birth chart is a field of energy which, among other things, contains the field of experience which has opened up for this lifetime.  The birth bhart also reveals how this field of experience is emerging from a deeper field of experience in other lifetimes.

So the birth chart is recognized as that great symbol, the Mandala, for its power as an organizing and transforming “limit” which keeps expanding – from a sacred Center – as we grow.

In reading the birth chart, the Astrologer pushes the buttons of its symbols to swing open the great doors of a Library – the Akashic Records. Here, the key stories of the Soul’s many lifetimes rest, coiled in Memory. These stories are highly personal, but often are poured into the mould or template of an Archetype – one could have a strong Cinderella theme in one’s life, or be caught up in roles like that of Lady MacBeth.

As we awaken spiritually, we begin to sense and to see how these powerful symbolic stories match up to patterns across our lifetimes, and especially in this, the current lifetime.  As part of that awakening, we become aware of the Higher Self, always within us, always watching, always offering the intuitions, alerting us to synchronicities, inspiring us to something better, out of the blue.

When we engage with our birth charts, we are opening to an Initiation begun by the Shamanic Astrologer.  We are becoming our own Shaman, which is another way of saying that we are becoming consciously connected to, and able to participate in directing, the knowledge, grace and power of our Higher Self. We can create symbols, and interact with them to alter Reality.

Continue reading Karma Dreaming * Advanced Shamanic Astrology

Spiritual DNA In The Birth Chart

Astrology and DNA

We are all familiar nowadays with AncestryDNA and tracing our ancestry in a living web of relationships. DNA, as a language and perhaps the code of creation itself, is a sacred mystery each of us carries within us.

There is another kind of DNA, just as importantThe task of the Karmic – and Spiritual – Astrologer is identifying some of the key Soul DNA patterns shown in the birth chart.  We help attune – even initiate – the client to the higher purposes and meanings within this lifetime. Seeing and naming are powerful tools in breaking out of negative patterns and finding new pathways for joyful self-expression.

And this kind of spiritual astrology can be undertaken by anyone who is willing to set out on the study of astrology as a personal tool of self-knowledge. There are books to help the beginner and lovely software to actually cast the chart and identify key points so that the journey of interpretation can begin very early.

Soul-DNA In the Birth Chart

Many of us are becoming familiar with exploring ancestral lines through our biological DNA sent off for testing. And the birth chart seems to be written in a very similar Soul-DNA, one which carries the coding of our Akashic Records.

These records hold, in vibrational form, all our thoughts, intents and deeds – a matrix of possibility out of which events in our personal and collective world emerge.

The Akashic Records have always been seen and described as the source of what we call Karma – relationships which arise out of our attachments to others, based on past experiences and choices. Reincarnation, coming back here to Earth, gives us opportunities to engage (and re-engage) with these people and to face experiences which test our learning.

Like our physical DNA, Soul-DNA is infinitely complex and capable of self-transformation as well as combining and recombining in new ways – like the elements of a language. It has actually been proposed that our physical DNA is not only a language complete with grammar (and a form of Spell-Check) but may be the Master language of the human race from which all of our spoken and written languages arose.

DNA is a language which resonates with symbols and archetypes of human personality and behavior which in turn are symbolized by the way the birth chart embeds all these patterns present in the heavens at the hour, day, month and year of our births.

In the many lifetimes we live, we build up spiritual and psychological tendencies within our “Soul-DNA” which then imprint upon and organize the DNA we select in the womb from both our parents. We choose from the available biological DNA those elements which match our most relevant, most active, Soul-DNA.”

In this way we choose elements which will set up certain frameworks for the working through of karma in general, but we also maintain psychic as well as physical links with our ancestral families and their descendants. We share with them stories containing group karma, and in working on our private stories/karma in this life, we are also helping contribute toward group development.

The Birth Chart seems to focus on the Soul-DNA most pertinent to this lifetime. This makes sense, because often our own karmic work has to fit in with that of many others who are being born into the same space-time framework that we have chosen.

In many cases, we are here to help complete or work through the karma of someone close to us – perhaps one or more parents, whether adopted or biological much can be done with the biological parents through spiritual connections and processes of psychological evolution). Indeed we have a special part of the birth chart which deals specifically with karma and the Ladder of the Family Tree going back into many generations.

When we understand the revelations of our birth chart, we have a much bigger picture as the context for the way our life has been unfolding. Our expectations of ourselves, our frustration when plans seem to stall, the way we seem to be picked up and placed in certain situations, the way we meet people in ways we could never have predicted – all these realities are prefigured – though not fated – in the birth chart.

These things are not “fated” because there are always choices in how we handle situations and these choices flow back into the matrix (or mix) of possibilities from which Karma arises.  It is like the great and vast DNA code we carry within our bodies – there is a possiby infinite number of combinations and choices in the way our DNA expresses itself.

Karma is what we need to learn, what is needed to provide balance, what we feel we owe another, and sometimes it is a destiny to which we are called – but in almost all cases of Karma, there is an element of Will, of Desire. Karma exists where we are still deeply attached by some inner cord of vibration, be it love, guilt, passion, interest, and so on.

Karmic ties can be built upon in positive ways – and the birth chart often shows pathways which achieve this.  Karma can be reduced, changed, and even eliminated sometimes through conscious changes in our inner universe. Seeing an old negative path, we can resolve to watch ourselves, to do the opposite of certain drives or pull, and so on.

Karma Dreaming * Advanced Shamanic Astrology

A Mystical Rose For Healing

In my mother’s work as a channel, or medium, in the very early 1960s, she and her group were taught some fascinating truths about reincarnation, karma, and dream analysis, along with techniques of healing mind and body – borne out much later by scientific and medical research.

It was in a series of early meditations – taught to her by her guides – at our country home Hillshore that my mother was first shown a short simple method to create and use a beautiful image to replace ugly, painful, fearful ones. Mom’s experience was lovely and most helpful, so I am passing it on here.

My mother loved flowers and had a large rose garden to which she added year after year. One morning in meditation, she found herself doing something quite fascinating – as I mentioned, one must let all this happen spontaneously. “Someone” was explaining (like texting, not an actual voice) that she could create a rose image and use it to “tape over” harmful or negative images/event and the emotions arising from them.

I should note here that this was different from our usual daily meditations in which we experienced a very informal and spontaneous form of something akin to Active Imagination.  More on that in other posts!

On this occasion, mom began to work on building a more universal, magical image – the Rose – which could be pulled up on the mental screen and applied on short notice to almost any disturbing experience one might encounter in daily life. This might be a graphic, ugly scene in a movie, book, of TV, an upsetting scene with someone close, a repetitive phobia, unhealthy urge, anxiety, the sight of a hurt animal or person, and other forms of what we would call PTSD.

(It seems clear that what Mom was about to learn how to do is part of the science of neuroplasticity, the Brain’s ability to change itself. We know too that “what fires together wires together” in the Brain – we get negative “associations” and can’t shake them – hence flashbacks and triggers which make old trauma present to us in the Now.

By teaching the Brain new associations, new pairs of firings, one might say, the Brain rewires itself and “learns” to drop old negative automatic associations by replacing them with new positive ones…This is what Mom’s guide meant by “taping over…”)

Mom spent considerable time actually building the Rose. In the first several meditations she was encouraged to simply just visualize her favorite rose (I knew it well) a gorgeous salmon-pink, just barely in bloom, fresh in the morning sun. She then seemed to take it apart – dwelling lovingly on every petal, and especially on the leathery dark green color and texture of each leaf.

Finally, she visualized it reassembled, in perfect form – an image of pure Beauty on several levels of sensual experience – smell, touch, vision, and on the level of Mind, where artist perfection takes us to spiritual realms.

In time, she was able to use this healing technique at will, summoning up her Rose in full, dewy, aromatic detail, holding it firmly in her mental vision until it filled her mind. Then, calling up the disturbing image which needed to be erased, mom would superimpose upon it the Rose, holding it there till the ugly image had dissolved.

Mom told me she occasionally “refreshed” her Rose – repeating the visualizing process. It would simply show up in a meditation, and she noted – almost as an observer, the way both mom and I often felt in meditation – that she was once again visualizing her Rose so that it took form once again in careful, slow detail, before her Mind’s Eye.

I do encourage my readers to try this – and don’t be surprised if the flower or image that presents itself to you is something other than a rose, for your Higher Self will know of just the right symbol for you! But a rose can be where you begin, and if you are patient, and don’t try to direct the process, things will unfold from within you…

Travels With the Higher Self

There are many ways to talk about the Higher Self, but those who have encountered it agree: It feels like one is meeting an intensely loving, deeply personal, individually focused aspect of God.

In The Beginning
As the path winds up the mountain, it gets a little narrower. The real meaning of life is a question which begins to appear in our thoughts. We find ourselves less interested in old activities and the goals we used to pursue. We find fewer around us who share our concerns for the Soul. Yet something, Someone, is calling, and this call cannot be denied.

We become disenchanted with the doctrines and rituals of formal religious traditions. They have competed for our loyalty, casting aspersions on other paths. Yet we grow doubtful of their truth claims.

So much history has been great battles for our souls by those who built small idols and called them God. It may come to us early or late in life, but at last we leave behind the politics of the Tao, knowing that if the Way has a name, it is probably not the Way.

On our own, we may drift for a time in various spiritual waters. Glancing at titles of popular books, we see that others have wandered here before us – books abound about discovering spiritual life not framed by formal doctrine, institution, or rules of membership.

Older books resurface, such as those on Edgar Cayce, the sleeping prophet, with his thousands of channelled readings from the Akashic Records. His Source said that, for each one, Mind is the Builder, that we live not once, but many times, and that each is on a voyage of self-discovery as a part of discovering God.

We wonder, at first, if this spiritual path will be lonely, but there are many who have walked it before.  We reach out to them, across time and space, finding companions in other centuries, other cultures, and sometimes – for awhile, on the path right beside us.

Then we learn that even when we find ourselves alone on the path, we are never alone. For if we listen with the heart, we sense a Presence, a luminous, numinous Self from which an unseen Guidance flows. In time, we learn this is the Higher Self – and that we walk on a path lit with Light.

Who – or What – Is the Higher Self?
Carl G. Jung, great explorer of psychological and spiritual realms, made popular the idea of a Self, or Higher Self which acts as an organizer and guide to inner life. In Hindu philosophy it is known as the Atman. Edgar Cayce spoke too of a Higher Self (Henry Reed, Channeling Your Higher Self).

Note:  Sometimes the term Higher Mind seems used interchangeably with Higher Self, but my sense is that these are separate aspects of the Soul and that the Higher Mind arises more out of the Brain/Body/Mind nexus. (In astrology, for example, Mercury rules the ordinary mind, and Uranus rules the Higher MInd).

Carl G. Jung, the great psychiatrist student of alchemy, archetypes, syncronicity, and – at times – astrology!

Jung’s personal experience and observation of the Higher Self in clients accords with my own personal experience as well as in psychic Life Readings and leading dreamwork groups.

Continue reading Travels With the Higher Self

Caravans and Sifting Sands

We are part of a Great Web of Life – a metaphor sprung to life as we connect, through the Internet, in our millions around the world each day…

Nations, which we build together, have karma too, and often whole peoples reincarnate together in more than one historical time. In the study of history and political life we may meet ourselves, for we leave our threads woven in Silk Tapestries of nations and peoples as well as within our own lives.

From these larger Stories come memory, meaning and belonging, carefully preserved in the Book of Life which belongs to every Soul.

I see the Spiritual Path as one which for most of us leads into and through a busy, very-human World.  We set forth anew through the Morning Gates, with hope in our hearts and our heads held high.  We travel together in our Caravans – our families and nations, our friends and our foes.

We jostle along with our laughter and love, with our strife and our sorrow – it’s all good, yours and mine.  Yet we look for the distant horizons too, and we listen to Stories we weave from our Deeds, precious Silk from our Time on the Road.  For the deeds of this world, and each life we live here – come only once and are gone, entrancing, ever-changing, like the shifting desert sands.

A Spirit Message For Dark Times

One Message For All From Those on The Other Side
Clairvoyance, healing and other psychic gifts were my inheritance from my mother. Her guide called these the “gifts of the Spirit Line.” He said they came from the Irish side of her family, from a kind of psychic gene pool intertwined with the physical one.

The gifts – and our spirit kinship – were why, he told us, I had chosen her for my birth.  From her, I later learned a special kind of  meditation in which I developed these gifts which I was able to then share with others as a professional psychic. Surprisingly, this same form of meditation led me to solitary shamanism, or perhaps the shamanism always came first, and what mom and I called meditation was really a form of the shaman’s journey.

Yet all these gifts – though precious – are far less important to me than the larger message of my mother’s mediumship, and later of my own: “We come here many times, each with our own Plan, with lots of time to grow, to make repairs, and to change our writings in the sands of Time. We need not envy another his or her life, for we will have ones just like these in our own time, just as we must feel compassion for those with harsh lives, for we too will walk parts of the Road that seem long and hard…

We are loved beyond imagining. We are cradled by the laws of the Creator’s Wheel and sustained by the love of the Creator’s Heart. Nothing is ever wasted or meaningless. Everything in our lives becomes part of the Plan, for it stretches in love to include all that we do. Things that we want to do over, we do over – and it all becomes part of the wisdom we store. Our birth, our Coming In, is timed precisely according to the Plan, and our Going Out is planned also, down to the last breath we take.

So may you be of good cheer as you set out in the morning of your Youth, with the Road fresh and new once again…

Or perhaps the heat of the mid-life sun is upon you, and the horizon a blur in the distance. Then sit here for awhile, review your Maps, and take some refreshment in my caravanserai…

And if your sun is sinking low and the Night close upon you, be of light and steady heart, for the longer rest – in the Great Caravanserai – will be more wonderful than you dream. Welcome it for its peace and rejuvenation, for a new Dawn will come soon, and with it will come your next journey upon the Great Silk Road.

Blessings, Light and Love, Carol

Silk Road Visions * Back Here On Earth

The caravansarai were once the resting places along the Great Silk Road. Here, we found warm welcome, food, water, fresh camels, information, and of course, a little gossip to lighten the journey. A night’s rest, then setting out again with the Dawn…Jolting along the ancient Road, I listen for the beat of the drum, my gaze lost in far horizons. Swaying high above the drifting sands, I close my eyes and dream of Home…

The Silk Road * Travels With the Higher Self
How I have loved the ancient Silk Road. – a metaphor for Life here on Earth!

I close my eyes and see the shimmering horizons, vast peaks rising far away…I feel the ancient rhythms, hear the ancient wisdom, and revel in the sands and grasses flowing – this river of Time, this river of human life. Though its physical form is now buried in the ever-shifting sands, it lives as a metaphor for human life on Earth.

Beginning in ancient China, its Source, the Silk Road flows out through Central Asia, pauses at Iran, the ancient Gatekeeper, then continues steadily through the Middle East to the Mediterranean world and its children in Time, Europe. As it winds, passing through whole worlds of deserts, mountains, great cities and small village huts, the Silk Road still lives, pulsing in time with the heartbeat of the Caravan.

The ancient Silk Road consisted of trails, roads, bridges, and pathways that stretched across nearly 5,000 miles of land and water (we tend to forget the magic of the Silk Road by Sea). It was not one long road, but rather many smaller roads and pathways that were connected, and worn by the use of thousands of travelers over a period of hundreds of years.

“Although it is suspected that significant trade occurred for about 1,000 years beforehand, the Silk Road opened around 139 B.C. once China was unified under the Han dynasty. It started at Changan (Xian) and ended at Antioch or Constantinople (Istanbul), passing by commercial cities such as Samarkand and Kashgar.

“It was very rare that caravans traveled for the whole distance since the trade system functioned as a chain. Merchants with their caravans were shipping goods back and forth from one trade center to the other. Major commodities traded included silk (of course), gold, jade, tea and spices. Since the transport capacity was limited, over long distance and often unsafe, luxury goods were the only commodities that could be traded.

“The Silk Road also served as a vector for the diffusion of ideas and religions (initially Buddhism and then Islam), enabling civilizations from Europe, the Middle East and Asia to interact.” Taken From The Silk Road and Arab Sea Routes

It is a safe bet that almost all of us traveled this ancient Silk Road in at least one of our other lives. We wore other faces, other skin colors, other garments; we believed in other gods, feared other peoples; sometimes we rode, lurching along on the backs of camels, horse and mules; sometimes we walked, for it was what our camels could carry that made this Road such a legend in its own time.

Continue reading Silk Road Visions * Back Here On Earth