Tag Archives: michael harner

My First Shamanic Journey

Reid Dickie

Today I celebrate the 17th anniversary of my first shamanic journey on November 11, 1994. It was the day I became a warrior of a different kind. I’ll recount the events that led to that pivotal moment.

In 1992, at age 42, I had a heart attack after which I shed my sedentary lifestyle, regained my health and counted myself among the lucky. Mom died in spring of 1993 and that set me on a course of intense curiosity about life, death and the whole damn thing. My work allowed me to read for four hours a shift during which time I devoured over four hundred books on topics ranging from nanotechnology to philosophy to ecology to near death experiences to Way of The Shaman, a little book written by anthropologist Michael Harner that I read in October 1994. That was the book that changed everything.

I suddenly recognized a new and significant part of myself in the arcane information Way of the Shaman conveyed. It felt familiar, necessary, useful. I immediately saw myself as a modern man exploring the spirit world using a technique that’s probably 100,000 years old. I had found My Way.

At the time, Harner’s Foundation for Shamanic Studies offered a cassette tape of solid drumming at the right number of beats per minute to induce non-ordinary reality and give access to the spirit world. I found the cassette at Prairie Sky Books on Westminster. I would wear out this cassette and go back a year later for a new copy.

I kept a handwritten journal of all my early shamanic journeys, which was extremely useful in learning the new spiritual territories that had opened up to me. By journeying I gained experience in non-ordinary reality; the Upper and Lower Worlds became familiar to me; my power animals and spirit helpers appeared and offered their help. The journals are fascinating to read now since it is clear how accurately the spirits predicted my future, the people I would meet and lose, the way everything would proceed. My first two journals contain vivid accounts of over 150 journeys in the initial two years of my shamanic practice.

To give you a brief peek into a shaman’s journey, I am sharing you my journal entry written right after my first journey on November 11, 1994.

   First time shamanic journey to a non-ordinary reality. Traversing the tunnel was rapid and effortless arriving in a beautiful natural setting. When my eyes became accustomed to the light, I saw a small stream about a foot wide and a foot deep set at the bottom of a canyon. I followed the stream to a mound some distance upstream that appeared to be the source of the stream, perhaps an artesian well. When I arrived at the small mound I found it to be a huge eyeball, three feet across, that was crying and making the stream with its tears. This seemed perfectly normal.

What looked like a large house cat came walking toward me from some brush. It was a tiger cub and its mother was close behind. We greeted each other. The tiger said her name was Beba and the cub had no name this time but would the next time we meet.

I asked her if she was my power animal and if we could meet here. She said this was likely but I wouldn’t recognize her at first. As we talked I played with the cub which soon tired and began to suckle Beba who lay on her side. I sat next to this huge purring tiger, caressed her, smelled her wild scent and felt her trembling power just under the fur.  

The three of us sat in the hot sun and enjoyed the silence. I tasted salt, my tears. I cried because I felt, in my soul, for the first time the truth of unity, the oneness, the sighing insignificance of the world and all its amazing qualities and I wept there in non-ordinary reality next to a tiger and her sleeping cub.

Quickly I learned to remember most details of my journeys by intending to remember them. Of all the places I have visited on shamanic journeys, about half of them were at the same stream from my first journey. It became a familiar peaceful place to meet and get to know my new spirit friends.

Beba, though a tiger, was not my power animal but Tiger was, whom I formally acquired two or three journeys later. Tiger from that day on has given me the gift of joy, the gift of be happy. The eyeball: literal Cry Me a River? Never did unravel that one. The feeling of unity would grew stronger in me as my shamanic practice and connection to Nature mysticism deepened.

I no longer keep journals of my experiences because I have adapted to being in a world where spirits communicate and cavort with me. My journeys are very focused on specific intents now. I know the terrain. I am more relaxed about it, a better listener and get practical results and/or sound advice from almost every spirit source that I contact.

After 17 years of regular practice, I still feel shamanism found me and that I didn’t find it. It always feels like coming home. I am an incredibly lucky man for which I am grateful every day.

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Filed under Ancient Wisdom, Momentous Day, Natural Places, Old Souls, shaman, shamanism, Spirit

Have I Found What I’m Looking For?

Reid Dickie

“The unexamined life is not worth living.” – Socrates

            I was sitting in the Tim Horton’s at Stafford and Corydon and I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For by U2 came on the radio. (I know, Socrates, Tim Horton and U2 in the first three lines with Ken Wilber and St. Francis of Assisi yet to come! Please bear with me.) It got me wondering if, in my lifetime, I have found what I’m looking for, a question that demanded some serious introspection. Then I thought Chris and I could both blog on the question and post on the same day. People could compare and contrast our answers. Chris jumped at the idea. He is twenty-five years my junior and had an upbringing much different from mine. This should be interesting.

My search for an answer started with making a list of the most important things I have gone looking for in my life. It turned out to be a six item list: Love, Friendship, The Muse, Happiness, An Audience and My Life Purpose.

  • Love: When I was a romantic lad growing up in Shoal Lake in western Manitoba, I had an imaginary dream girl, the perfect woman who would love me forever, cherish everything about me, forgive all my sins and die happily in my arms, all the same things I would do for her. Her name was Johanna, inspired by Bob Dylan’s Visions of Johanna. I held onto my vision of Johanna through high school, took her to Toronto with me to learn radio announcing and brought her back to the prairies where I started my career. Still not having found my Johanna by that time, I was starting to lose hope, thinking it was all just a childish thing ready to be discarded. However, I kept searching and I found her. She was just using another name – Linda. I am among those incredibly fortunate men who found a perfect soul mate to love and understand him. I found the love I was looking for in full measure.

  • Friendship: At The Celebration of Light and Linda last fall, I was joined for a photograph by five guys I went to school with 50 years before. It is a most telling picture showing deep camaraderie and love. I could call on any one of these men today and they would help me, no matter what, and I would do the same for them. These are lifelong friends with whom I share common childhood experiences and mutual admiration. I have human friends of all ages and endeavours and find them stimulating and satisfying. My closest friendships feel more like family. Through shamanism, I have a pantheon of spirits who are also my friends but of an entirely different order. I have found the friends I was looking for.

Six buddies from Shoal Lake: from the left Terry Lewycky, Dennis Lewycky, Ernie Bart, myself, Mark Fikkert, Ron Bart

  • The Muse: My creativity is a family legacy from my mother and her father. Imaginative and always ready to tell a story, real or imagined, my teacher Mom exhorted me to get inside my own head and discover what’s there. I’ve had an eager and unabashed connection to my imagination ever since. On my About page, I wrote (quoting myself, writer’s bliss!): “I seem to have tapped into the source of an endless stream of ideas that flow like quicksilver through my mind, some of them getting captured and sent far and asunder in my own words. As Terence McKenna said, ‘Imagination is where we are coming from and imagination is where we are going to.’ I have honed my imagination to a fine nib that dips into the rainbow ink of many worlds, leaving behind a sometimes elegant, sometimes smeared trail of word crumbs. If they ever help anybody find their way home, my job is done.” Finding a life partner like Linda, equally imaginative and creative, was an unexpected bonus. Looking for The Muse is a process, it never ends. I have found The Muse and an ongoing connection to its process.
  • Happiness: The big truth here in ordinary reality is we only get little stabs at happiness, not long blissful swaths of it. The happiness we do experience is seldom of our own making, often artificially induced, always fleeting. Needy egos, the bind of the mind and the rolling thunder of life’s experience keep us from sustained happiness. Developing an inner practise like shamanism opens up new realms of potential happiness often leading to bliss. My power animal, Tiger, brings joyfulness into my life daily. Linda made me happy during her life and continues to do so after her death. Her consistent message is “Be happy.” Although this is not the forum to detail this, using wisdom flowing from her new vantage point, Linda has shown me a glimpse of heaven to illustrate why I should “be happy.” I have found happiness wherever I looked.     
  • An Audience: Both Chris and I are seeking our audiences this year. In my life, I have frequently had an audience: as a radio announcer, as an artist and performer, as an old friend prowling the stage of The Park Theatre at The Celebration and now with this blog. Today I’m finding my next audience in a whole new way. The content – me – is the same but the format is new and exciting, awash with instant possibilities combining images, video, audio and words. I am finding my audience here, view by view, in this burning ground of history where everything is immediately retrievable while the whole world watches.  
  • My Life Purpose: It’s not radio, not retail, not any of the myriad odd jobs I tried. It’s not even writing. My life purpose became clear to me when I was 45 years old. In 1994, I discovered a little book called The Way of the Shaman by Michael Harner. He laid out the core elements of shamanism as it had been practiced for over 50,000 years, adapted the techniques and technology for modern people and, suddenly, I had access to the spirit world. I had found my Way! Though it would take me a few years to realize it, I had found my purpose, as well. Widely traveled, I visited dozens of ancient sacred sites on the Canadian prairies, performing rituals and exploring the realms opened up through my daily practice of neo-shamanism. Discovering my spiritual calling, my purpose has enriched my life beyond measure. 

St. Francis of Assisi said something so profoundly simple in its truth that it took me years to understand it. He said, “What you are looking for is what is looking.” I knew the things I was looking for, that was the easy part. But what is looking? I pondered this many times. My searching and scrambling seemed to be what I wanted but I never had any real perspective on myself until I figured out what St. Francis meant.

So, what is looking? Our very essence, this vast empty awareness in which we and everything we experience and perceive arises, that’s what is looking. Call it Spirit, cosmic consciousness, God. Ken Wilber calls it “the deepest suchness of our being where all worlds arise.” Spirit is what’s looking, partaking of the world through my eyes and my being, in fact, everyone’s eyes and beings. Spirit is the tireless watcher, the eternal Witness to all that arises. The most satisfying discovery of my life had always been plainly obvious. To experience it, all I did was get out of my own way.

The Answer: Yes, reflecting back over six decades I can honestly say I have found what I’m looking for and I have been found by what is looking for me. In both cases, it is Spirit. If I die tomorrow, I’ll have a smile on my face.

However, although satisfied so far, I am still committed to the search, to learn my whole life long, to shine my curiosity into new realms and discover what’s there. I can report today that what’s there is incredible!

Check out Chris’ blog to see if he’s found what he’s looking for.

 Chris welcomes the world to his blog.

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Filed under ken wilber, Life and Life Only, Linda, shaman, shamanism