Tag Archives: shaman

Sacred Places and Consciousness Part 3

Reid Dickie

Part Three

“During shamanic flight the soul doesn’t fly. We expand our limits to include aspects not usually part of our being.” – Hans Peter Duerr

             Before you begin reading this, if you haven’t already done so, please read Part One and Part Two in the series and study the Map of Consciousness supplied in both parts and below. Checking out my FAQ page will help as well.

            One purpose of this final part in the series is to share some of the specific inner experiences that occur at each stage of super-consciousness. Extraordinary experiences need extraordinary and uncommon language to describe them. Shamanic experiences are often stage-specific, that is, they have meaning only at certain stages of consciousness which is not easily transferred or even described in another state. However, being the naming animal, we have discovered certain language that describes rare stages of mind and exceptional access to consciousness. I have Ken Wilber to thank for bringing forth some practical terminology during his 30 years of meditation practice and philosophical explorations. His terms were invaluable filling in the blanks on the Map of Consciousness.  

            For example, Wilber uses the term bliss currents to describe an extremely subtle sensation of loving happiness pulsing slowly through your awareness. When I first read it, I knew exactly what he meant. I’d experienced it many times but never had words to describe it. Still, sweet and descriptive as it tries to be, the term is lame when compared to the actual experience!                       

            When I embarked on my spiritual journey my most basic intent was to become less culture bound and more inner directed, that is, live more from inside myself than from what is applied to me from the outside. Shamanism created the path for me to do this inner work I needed to do. 

            Now, once the drumming begins, I can feel my restive rational mind settle and focus on the steady beat. A wonderful moment of calmness and freedom ensues when I transcend reason and open up to exploring the parts of my consciousness that lie beyond. My first expansion lands me in the Psychic (F7) realm, immersed in Nature mysticism. Some typical experiences in the Psychic realm include:

  • Preliminary meditative states – familiar from my meditation practice,
  • Shamanic visions & voyages – induced through drumming as on-going practice,
  • Identification with aspects of nature up to identification with all Nature – Nature and me are the same stuff,
  • Arousal of kundalini energy – my early meditative experiences included repeatedly arousing these energies. See below for more details,
  • Disclosure of psychic anatomy of subtle channels, energies & essences – this occurs once I began expanding my awareness to include more and more information from new sources,
  • Overwhelming feeling of the mystical – that glorious shivery web of the unknown,
  • Spontaneous spiritual awakenings – important understandings and knowledge suddenly arise in my awareness, sometimes answering intent of journey and/or adding further details and new information,
  • Reliving of deep past traumas, possibly birth trauma – with consent and intent, Mom and I relived my birth about three years after I started my shamanic practice.  

            Not all these experiences occur every time I access the Psychic realm but all of them have arisen at some point during my years of shamanic journeying. Most frequently, I experience the first seven items. A preliminary meditative state is always part of my intent, which, with the help of the sonic driver, sustains the shamanic journey. The outcome of the journey is mitigated by its particular intent, which varies from journey to journey. Much of Psychic is an adaptation for me. 

            My early meditative practice focused on awakening kundalini energies and bringing them to full expression. Kundalini energy lies coiled three and a half times at the base of the spine. Arousing it releases an exhilarating and dramatic array of experiences, many of them physical expressions of inner directives. Teacher Christina Grof and her husband, psychiatrist Stanislav Grof, did invaluable research on kundalini energy. They list some of the effects awakening can have:

  • Dramatic physical and psychological manifestations called “kriyas” most striking of which are sensations of heat and energy streaming up your spine,
  • Possible tremors, spasms, violent shaking, complex twisting movements,
  • Involuntary laughing or crying,
  • Chanting mantras or songs,
  • Speaking in tongues, emitting vocal noises and animal sounds,
  • Assuming spontaneous yogic gestures mudras and postures asanas,
  • Seeing geometric patterns, radiant lights, visions of saints, deities, demons, and entire mythological sequences,
  • Emotional range: ecstasy, orgasmic rapture and incredible peace to waves of depression, anxiety & agitation. 

            Since I am familiar with kundalini energy and open to it from my early practice, my visits to sacred places often arouse this energy to varying degrees. You may recognize some of my experience at Moose Mountain Medicine Wheel in Part One as kundalini awakening. The most intense kundalini occurrences happened to me at the Thunderbird Nest as described in detail on the Sacred Places page. Releasing kundalini energy at that site provided an avenue of expression for my spirit helper Webbed Flight and let him “live again.”  Hope you read my FAQs. 

            The next stage is the Subtle (F8) realm where processes well beyond my gross waking consciousness begin to manifest. Subtle experiences arise solely from within me and require special attention and quietude to perceive and appreciate. More depth is required of me now. Spirit helpers, power animals and the Divine are most potent in the Subtle and are accompanied by inner illuminations and patterns and by blissful states of love and compassion. Peace and serenity settle into my awareness. Experiences in the Subtle realm include:

  • Interior luminosities and sounds – slow pulses of dim lights that slowly change colour or create a pulse, a vague beat, everything is calm,
  • Archetypal forms and patterns emerge – the spirits come out to help me,
  • Extremely subtle bliss currents and cognitions – rivers of delight flow through me, small explosions of happiness abound and persist, gratitude builds,
  • Expansive affective states of love and compassion – unfathomable caring arises,
  • Direct spirit communication – the spirits dance with me,
  • Face to face with the Divine – glimpses of The Light is what I get, just glimpses,
  • Pathology: kosmic terror, kosmic evil, kosmic horror – seldom do I encounter negativity in my journeys. When I do I can deal with it effectively and quickly. This comes from years of inner work.     

      In Subtle abides enormous peace and serenity where quiet forces become evident via gentle perceptions, where love and compassion feel like the only possibilities. Brief flashes of the Divine shimmer through my awareness evoking bliss and unbound gratitude. Access to Subtle for me is generally plateau but adaptation when spirits and helpers are involved, that is I can readily call them if needed in any state of consciousness. Bliss currents and inner luminosities are plateau experiences for me so far. 

      Approaching the Source occurs in the Causal (F9) realm. All I experience is an unbound sense of freedom, freedom to create, to be, to do, an ancient flicker in the heart of Emptiness, a shadow on a cave wall. Being and Doing happily coalesce in me. I recognize myself as Emptiness and blissfully watch the arising world come and go through that awareness. Experiences in the Causal include:

  • Scene of freedom – detached and free from all the lesser woes of lesser worlds,
  • Source of creativity – sense of release from and release to be and do, all creation arises in my awareness,
  • I am an opening, a clearing, an Emptiness through which objects pass. 

      My access to the Causal is through peak experiences as needed although this summer I had several extended plateaus floating in Causal. Often, if I am writing and can’t come up with an idea, a phrase, even a word, I’ll sit back on my chair, close my eyes and send a flare to the source of creativity. The reply is usually instant and substantive. 

            The three stages of consciousness I just described are conduits for the content, information and messages that Spirit wants to convey to me. They are the means, not the end, the method, not the result. Shamanism opens up the conduits so Spirit can flow! Spirit doesn’t just exist when we need or want it to; it exists all the time, which is incorrect since it exists completely outside of time which for us is “all the time.” Clear? I digress. 

            Another purpose of this essay is to shine more light on the stages of consciousness used in shamanism where spirits (animal powers, helpers, nature spirits) manifest themselves in our consciousness and help us. We are always surrounded by spirits but most people haven’t developed the inner technology to perceive them and, using intent (shaman’s secret), put them to work for you. That’s Spirit pole at Buffalo Effigyrather crass because the spirits are in charge and do what they need to do. Shamanism is a process of dropping assumptions we hold about the nature of reality. Instead of assuming limitations, shamans assume the opposite – unbound, freedom, creativity – and, using those eyes plus intent, find out what’s there. Astonishing things are there…and everywhere! 

            Spirits offer benevolence to everyone. Not everyone has the training to use their own inner technology to contact spirits for help. That’s what shamans do. I don’t think there is exclusivity to being a shaman. At a shamanism workshop last fall, everyone there, eighteen people, easily went into drumming-induced non-ordinary reality the first time they tried it. Fifteen of them got power animals on their second journey that day. We are hardwired for this access but few persist at it, few hear the calling or see the use. Shamanism is complicated, scary, ecstatic, boring, exhilarating, life-like and needs a certain kind of cat to dance with. Even though I searched for 45 years, I still feel it found me more than I found it. It’s like coming home. 

            Even if we don’t, can’t or won’t feel attuned to the spirits, they are attuned to us, watching over us. Spirits want to help everyone. A big human discovery was some people found a way to ask spirits for their help and get it. My relationship with Webbed Flight, my old friend and spirit helper (he is the spirit of a shaman who lived in eastern Manitoba about 1200 years ago), has matured in the 12 years we have known each other. Relationship? Webbed Flight tells me to cross the street sometimes if he doesn’t like who is coming toward us (Linda came to appreciate this after initially being unsettled by it), warns me about deer on the road, even dead ones, supports and protects me when I am in trance. I am way past being attuned to him; he is a living part of me. Ever protective, kind and curious, contact with Webbed Flight went from being an occasional peak experience to being able to contact him for longer periods, plateauing. Then he became an adaptation, a benevolent spirit that abides with me. That three-step process – peak, plateau, adaptation – took about 18 months with Webbed Flight. This is sounding so technical! Timely aside: What would the spirit of a 1200 year old shaman, when allowed to live again in 2011, find most amazing? TV? Cellphones? Uh-uh. The two things that blow Webbed Flight’s old mind are glass and indoor showers. Ha! 

            I met Maug (rhymes with blog) about nine months after I started my shamanic practice. She is a fascinating and energetic tree spirit and helper. When I first met her, we went through the three-step process in about 20 minutes and she’s been with me ever since. On my About page, in a piece called The Day Before Yesterday which recounts my ten most recent incarnations, you will find the details about Maug.             

            From Ken Wilber’s map in Part One you are familiar with the evolution of your consciousness. You are not alone on this journey. It is shared by all humanity. Nor is this journey new to any of us. For hundreds of thousands of years each of us has evolved through these same stages, following the same subliminal basic moral imperative: to preserve the greatest depth with the greatest span (Wilber). We have discovered ways of being in the world and intuited maps and techniques to guide the way to fulfilling our imperative. We have found methods of moving Spirit out of Emptiness, from inner space to materialization in a mound, a circle cast in stone, an image of an animal, the language of the soul writ on the land. There we commune lovingly, peacefully. 

            Imbued with Spirit, sacred places become custodians of the Divine, keepers of our very essence, but not hoarders. Sacred sites are open and expressive, appealing to our awareness, usually somewhere in the Psychic-Subtle-Causal realms. Each level allows greater access to deeper and fuller parts of my being, more intense experiences and contact with Spirit. The depth of my experience at these places is relative to how developed each of those realms is in me, how adequate I am to accessing them. Shamanism taught me the process, Ken Wilber expanded my understanding and now I proceed into the mystic at will, confident, experienced and some day, if I am very, very lucky, I may figure out how it works on my own. 

            Meanwhile, I will continue to visit sacred places and perform rituals based on my inner directives. I will continue to journey with my power animals and spirit helpers to imaginal worlds to fulfill healing intents. When Spirit draws me close to absolute awareness, the site of peace and compassion, I will recognize myself as Emptiness.


            Over the summer of 2011 I was lucky enough to travel to more than a dozen sacred places in Manitoba and Saskatchewan recording reports on my little camcorder at most of them. While Spirit manifests at every site, there was one in particular where the message Spirit needed to convey was clear, reportable and captured on video. Please read my original post called Shining a Light Into Hidden Places and watch the video called Three Stones at Pine Cree Park which details my encounter with Spirit on the night I camped in the park.     


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Filed under Ancient Wisdom, Sacred Places, Saskatchewan, shaman, shamanism, Soul Building, Spirit

2420 Summers Ago

Reid Dickie

Rustakoomaw crouched in the shade of the cottonwood that grew next to a dry streambed. It was the only tree for miles, an imposing sentinel against the sky. He held a small round drum made of hide and wood that he beat steadily and quickly with a fur-tipped stick. His voice accompanied the persistent beat, sailing across the still prairie, mixing with the whispers of cottonwood leaves the slight breeze spurred. Eyes tightly shut; his body weaving slightly, Rustakoomaw approached the trance with awe and respect. He stepped inside.

Immediately his power animals were with him, ready to accept and follow through on his intent. Rustakoomaw had come to the trance for help. His people were sick and dying, the rain had not appeared for many moons and the buffalo herds had deserted the prairie for the wetter north country. The grass was drying up on the hills, creeks and sloughs were now just smooth stones and crusted earth. He was asking Great Spirit to feed his people and bring the rain so the buffalo grass would grow again. His power animal Wolf linked the shaman with the Divine. Tears rolled down Rustakoomaw’s dark face, landing on his bare chest. He beat the drum harder. Wolf beckoned him.

The shaman found himself being lead toward a high hill that he knew very well. It was at the eastern edge of the region he and his people hunted. It overlooked a vast rolling plain; below it was the white shore of Bad Water Lake. The grass grew tall and green surrounding the hill. He stopped at the foot of the hill and looked up. At the top of the rise, he saw a wavering vision begin to take shape. Emerging from the shimmer of the heat and the clear cloudless blue beyond, Rustakoomaw began to make out a shape, an animal shape.

Like a jewel atop the verdant hill, the image of a huge white buffalo appeared. It turned and looked Rustakoomaw in the eye, nodding its shaggy head. He began to climb the hill toward the buffalo. As he approached, he realized he was suddenly getting wet. It had begun to rain. The vision of the white buffalo dissolved in the sheets of rain that slashed at the land. The sky was still bright blue and cloudless but the rain continued to fall in Rustakoomaw’s trance.

That evening as the small band devoured a thin white-tailed buck, a lucky hunt by one of Rustakoomaw’s sons, clouds began to roll in from the west. A gentle rain began that persisted all night and into the next day. Every evening that week the rain came. The parched earth drank every fresh drop and the grass returned to the prairie, along with it the buffalo and the health of Rustakoomaw’s people.

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Filed under Fiction, shaman, shamanism, Spirit

Death and Taxes

Reid Dickie

The old saw goes, “The only things you can count on in life are death and taxes.” At some point these two parallel inevitabilites must intersect.

Apparently we aren’t truly dead, bureaucratically dead, until we experience tax death. This week Canada Revenue Agency sent me a letter saying that Linda is now tax dead (my terminology). That means that every level of government is satisfied that she owes them no further taxes. Hey Baby, off the hook! You win!

This got me thinking about all the different ways we can be and need to be dead in this culture. Physically, when the body stops and certain disposal processes start, you end up six feet under in a tight one-room apartment with no doorbell, or your anonymous ashes dust away somewhere appropriate or inappropriate, depending on how clear you were about this with your family. That seems easy and familiar. Being the 21st century, there are numerous new ways you can dispose of your precious remains ranging from being shot into space to being liquified and flushed to being buried inside a large dead animal instead of a coffin. Seriously!

Mentally, if you are very lucky, some of your ideas and/or creations linger on after you die. This can happen through children, media exposure, art, notoriety, genius, setting an example and so on. Soul persists past physical and mental death yet it is the one aspect of ourselves we are most uncomfortable with and least educated about.

An oft-used crossword puzzle clue is Last words? with the answer obit. Your obituary proclaims and asserts your death by recounting Part One of your story, or, most likely, your story as interpreted by family members or friends under duress, each of whom would write a very different obituary depending on how close they were to you. Sometimes agencies or companies you deal with after a death will request a copy of the obituary.

Here’s a great idea! Write your own obituary! I did. Tell your own story. It saves time and confusion and illustrates your understanding of what your loved ones are going through after your death. It’s an expression of love. For more information on writing your own obituary, read my post called Obituary Euphemisms.

Part Two of your story is your last will and testament or what happens to your worldly stuff now that you are dead. This is an important part of your story because it directly states your wishes and enables an orderly and fair dispersion of your estate. Keep it simple and honest.  Some people see their will as one last opportunity to be small and extract revenge. Try not to be that person. Be large and grateful instead. If you are over 18 years old, you should have a will. Like writing your own obituary, creating a will is your opportunity to have your life story end exactly the way you want. As luck would have it, I have written about wills.

What other parts of your story remain to be told? Bureaucratic death must be satisfied. Almost immediately after a death, the province issues a thwack of death certificates because every company and level of government you deal with is going to ask for one. You are now dead to the province. Insurance death was, in Linda’s case, quick and efficient, though often it is not. Her estate was not complicated and she had a clear and concise will. Linda’s tax death, other than, what my Mom would call, a schmozzle with H & R Block (an eye-roller for a later post), was smooth and sympathetically administered by Canada Revenue Agency. This means that Linda is, officially and in every other way, as dead as she possibly can be.

In a shaman’s world, in my world, Linda lives on, in my heart, as a spirit, as a helper, infinitely. She guides me every day; we communicate in a pure and direct manner using shamanic techniques and a special agate. We exchange a love that transcends death by accepting what death is – natural, neutral, necessary. Linda is never far away.

To a shaman who accesses non-ordinary reality, the old saw now goes: The only things in life you can count on are no death and no taxes.


Filed under BEAUTY, Family, grief, Life and Life Only, Linda, Love, Old Souls, Spirit

What’s with “Happy Deathday”?

Reid Dickie

Nothing is lost, nothing is created … all is transformed. Nothing is the prey of death. All is the prey of life.”  – Antoine Béchamp

“All goes onward and outward. Nothing collapses. And to die is different from what anyone supposes…and luckier.” -Walt Whitman

A good question and one asked of me several times since I began the Happy Deathday features on the blog. Don’t misinterpret this as me being happy these people no longer live. That’s not the point at all.

My perspective on this is shamanic and incorporates a shaman’s understanding of death which differs vastly from the mainstream idea of death being scary and unknowable. In the shaman’s world death is simply a change of being, a moving from organic to inorganic, from flesh to Spirit, that faithful old process we’ve lived and died with for eons.

Death is our next opportunity to express our spiritual evolution and put to use the soul building we have done during our life. It is a celebratory moment when we face Great Spirit and obtain final clarity for that lifetime. If we are prepared, if we have trained well during all our lifetimes, we transcend reincarnation, become enlightened and merge with The Light. If we still aren’t ready to achieve that, we contract away from The Light back through the mental realm as a sexual thought then reproduced again in a gross body with all its suffering and bondage. This is also our next opportunity for personal evolution, for pursuing our next level of soul building.

Because we communicate with spirits directly, shamans know that Spirit persists after the elemental needs of the body are gone and the mind is relieved of its duties. Seen simply, sometimes we are alive, sometimes we are dead, always we are Spirit. Since the aftermath of birth is life in the gross reflecting realm and the aftermath of death is heaven, it’s just as appropriate to wish someone a happy deathday. The hope that accompanies the loving wish is that you have used this life as a stepping stone on your path to enlightenment and eternal bliss, that you have done the real work, the necessary work.


Filed under Ancient Wisdom, Deathday, Love, Old Souls, shaman, shamanism, Soul Building, Spirit, Wisdom

Thunderbird Nest Video Report

Reid Dickie

The Thunderbird in Ojibwa and Cree legend was a super eagle with a wing span two canoes wide capable of transforming into human form. The Thunderbird spoke thunder and lightning flashed from its eyes. Difficult to see because of its disguise as black swirling clouds, the Thunderbird fed only on snakes and protected humankind from the Great Horned Serpent of the Underworld. This area of Manitoba supports a large red-sided garter snake population. Many Thunderbird Nests are found in eastern Manitoba but this is the only one west of Lake Manitoba.

 A report on a visit to the site in 2007 is posted here. This fall I returned to Thunderbird Nest and recorded this video report.

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Filed under Sacred Places, shaman, Spirit

Tamaracks in Spruce Woods Park

On Wednesday, October 19 I shot some footage of a bright yellow display of tamarack trees next to Hwy 5 in Spruce Woods Park. Distinctive because they turn yellow and lose their needles every fall. Although coniferous, they aren’t evergreen. Sometimes called larch.

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Filed under Day Tripping, Natural Places, Parks, Spirit

Medicine Rock, Video Report

Reid Dickie

To ensure safety and success, millennia of hopeful travelers and hunters left offerings on this old serene and sacred stone. I left my offering for the same reason. Walk into the bush with me now, breathe next to Medicine Rock, leave your offering.

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Filed under Ancient Wisdom, Natural Places, Sacred Places, shaman, Spirit

Two Days Out On the Prairie

Reid Dickie

Hot and windy, the temperature hit 30 degrees today (about 86 F.), amazing for early October. Something similar for the next two days before seasonal temperatures prevail. The warm weather stoked my wanderlust and I headed into southwestern Manitoba on Tuesday, doing a couple of video reports and gathering images for a large video project I’m working on.  This red maple at Marsh Lake in Spruce Woods Park was in full blaze.

I stopped by Campbell Lisk Heritage Park below Hwy 10 next to the Souris River. The first picture is the flooded park taken in June and the second one I took yesterday.

The little park, at flood peak, had over seven feet of water in it from the Souris River. Now the water is gone, the flood cake has dried out and turned into a fine grey powder that sails on every gust of wind. The vegetation has started to return; the spruce trees suffered and each is surrounded by a circle of brown dead needles, waterkill from the flooding. The other difference in the two pictures is how everything has dried out. The recent shot shows how arid we are now after a hot virtually rainless summer.

I took a hike halfway around Marsh Lake in Spruce Woods Park today to survey the hiking trail. The flood cake from the flooding Assiniboine extends well back from the lake, in some places over fifty feet. The grey floodcake is dried out but several plants have asserted themselves quickly, notably grassy sedges and horsetail along the wettest parts. Further back and in the shade poison ivy, now scarlet and quite evident, flourished in the grey dry soil. Though the day was hot and sunny, I didn’t see any turtles sunning along Marsh Lake. The flood changed the ecology of the lake so it will take time to restore it or evolve into a new habitat. The turtles know what to do.

I haunted some cemeteries on my drive and have some interesting epitaphs to report. In the little cemetery just outside of Margaret, MB I found these three, the first rather common but profound: Sleeping in Jesus, the comforting Under His Wings and, chiselled into an old old stone, Nevertheless he lives. In my hometown cemetery, I found the most effervescent one of the trip: She has joined the dance, the sprightly dance, the dance ever-existing.

By the way, everything is up-to-date in Treherne, MB. Besides having buildings made of bottles, nice people and a pretty location, Treherne has the Birch Motel which is all mod cons as you can see! Waterbeds and direct dial phones…a little slice of heaven on Hwy 2.

Ghost towns are appearing more frequently now. The siding of Kelloe and fading village of Solsgirth are no longer acknowledged with signs along Hwy 16. Kelloe consists of a family home with modern kids stuff in the yard and a few tumbledown houses in the bush. Solsgirth appeared to have two houses being lived in. The entire population of McConnell when I went through it this morning was two horses. Although the school, church and an old house or two survive, no people live there. Instead the people erected a cairn to signify where McConnell is/was. Apparently you can’t rely on the memories of horses for this kind of thing. Cardale was pert and mowed, the few souls it supports keep busy and wave at me. Margaret has 9 people and 30 boxes in its post office, mostly farmers. I mention to the postmistress (how quaint does that sound?) that my parents lived in Margaret when I was born and so did I until we moved to Hayfield four years later. She remembered hearing our family name in the district.

I’ll end with two pictures of a delightful old weather-depainted Queen Anne style house I gaped at in Newdale today. The lovely gables with elaborate carved bargeboards and the over window and door detailing make this almost ghostly pile extra special. I wonder if it glows in the dark? It has a little satellite dish!

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Filed under Day Tripping, Flood, Ghost Towns, Heritage Buildings, Manitoba Heritage, Prairie People, Roadside Attractions

Equinox Journey

Reid Dickie

The mighty Avenger and I are just back from welcoming in the fall season with an 800 km loop around Manitoba. The weather is way above normal and sunny, perfect days. On Friday morning I headed north out of Winnipeg up Hwy #6 along the east side of Lake Manitoba, Dauphin my destination for the night. The leaves on the trees in the early part of the journey were just beginning to turn but the further north I got the brighter and more spectacular the display became. My first stop was at Percy Moggey’s cabin north of Eriksdale to do a video report. Percy was one of Manitoba’s most notorious boogeymen. My report is coming soon to a blog near you.

I turned onto Hwy #68, one of the better highways in central Manitoba, and headed towards the Lake Manitoba Narrows. High dykes still protect the areas at and around the Narrows. For the first time this year I stopped at the Thunderbird Nest, just a few kms west of the Narrows, wondering if the peninsula it sits on had been flooded. No flooding was apparent, just a wonderful feeling of happiness which struck me as soon as I stepped out of the car and persisted the whole time I was at Thunderbird Nest. The site was peaceful and calming with unrelenting happiness. It was different from Linda’s Be Happy but just as effective. I felt blissful the whole time I was there. When I returned to the car, suddenly I received the story behind the happiness I felt.

I relay it: Not that long ago her family brought Old Mother, an elder on the nearby nation, to the Thunderbird Nest. She was so excited because she hadn’t been back to it since she was a girl and something very important had happened on that visit. Even though her family had to wheel her in her chair across the rough and rocky trail to the place, Old Mother stayed happy and full of laughter the whole time. As we passed a certain tree, she tied a gift to the branch of a tree, something she had made with her old and gnarled fingers. It was a piece of jute string tied around a stone she found with a striped feather floating at the bottom. When we got to the Thunderbird Nest she held her breath and when she let it out, it was full of laughter. The trees echoed her happiness back to her and birds began to call. She prayed and sang, tears of joy flowing from her old but keen eyes.

She told us why this place was special to her. When she was a girl she received her power animal here: it was flicker, a large woodpecker. They still frequent the bur oak forest in the area. She said the bird loudest in the forest was the flicker. We listened and sure enough a large flicker came flying through the trees and landed on a branch above Old Mother. She smiled and sang a little song to the bird. As they wheeled her back down the trail she said she had never felt more peaceful in her life and was ready to die. Three days later she died with a smile on her face. Old Mother was 93. I thanked Great Spirit for bringing me safely to this place and for the happiness message. I have recounted another experience at Thunderbird Nest here.

Though the quality of Hwy 68 deteriorates somewhat on both sides of the Narrows, mostly it’s smooth with wide shoulders, a pleasure. This time of year though it got a little gruesome with the number of dead garter snakes on the road. They are heading to their underground caves below the frost line for the winter, lots of them on the move. This was especially noticeable west of the Thunderbird Nest. Even writing about it makes me a little sickish, driving it was grim. By the time I got to Ste Rose du Lac, the snakes were much less frequent; skunks were the other unluckiest roadkill.

I stayed at the Super 8 in Dauphin (excellent steam room!) and wined and dined with two lovely and attractive women: my cousin Vonda and our delightful friend, Cheryl. A perfect sunset promised another hot day. After a leisurely breakfast at The Bully (Boulevard Hotel) with Vonda, I drove through Riding Mountain National Park. The north face offered a garish array of fall colours from the red and brown understory through to the lush electric yellow of cottonwoods, poplar and birch all broad stroked against the solid stoic evergreens. The south face was a few days less colourful. Best time to drive through RMNP for the fall colours is likely mid to late this week and next week (Sept. 28 to Oct. 8). Not many leaves falling yet but a frost or two will hasten that, along with a few windy days.

Mountain Road (PR 357) always has majestic Manitoba vistas, today dabbed with autumn hues. The view of the lakebed misted with dust and chaff was breathtaking and the chute to the bottom always a thrill. The harvest is proceeding well with fields of late crops now dotted with combines and trucks. I passed through Neepawa, Tim Horton’s in hand, and went south to Carberry where I did some visual heritage recon and gleaned great shots of two old historic sites near Carberry. I will have full reports on both sites but here is a picture of each.

The hike on Spirit Sands today was perfect at 25 degrees C, sunny, slight breeze I wished was a little more frequent once I got to the dunes and the fulfilling effervescence of Spirit that percolates through me. Boots off, feet bare, the sand is hot today, cool an inch below. At our special place I sit and commune, Linda reaffirms a recent message: “I’ve only been gone a minute, Reid.” Her wonderous experience of eternity and her attempt to tell me what it’s like sends me into new realms of bliss. I laugh and roll on the sand. Linda died 21 months ago.

Since it opened for the first time this year in early August I have visited Spruce Woods Park several times. Sinkholes have appeared by the side of the highway, another aftermath of the flood. Some have sunk due to residual river water and have small fish gasping for oxygen swimming in them. Others appear to be more recent and their water has a slight emerald tinge to it not unlike the punchbowl.

On my return to Winnipeg along Hwy 2, I saw several massive flocks of blackbirds, thousands of birds moving as one across the blue sky. It went on for about a mile with birds arising from the trees along the road to join the throng.

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Filed under Carberry, Earth Phenomena, Flood, Manitoba Heritage, Natural Places, Parks, shaman

Take a Hike on Spirit Sands

This is the video of my hike on Spirit Sands yesterday.

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Filed under BEAUTY, Day Tripping, Flood, Local History, Manitoba Heritage, Natural Places, Sacred Places

Sacred Places Video Update – Big Beaver Buffalo Effigy

Reid Dickie 

On my recent excursion into the Saskatchewan Holyland, I spent most of a morning at the buffalo effigy south of Big Beaver. My visit resulted in this video report on the site and its vistas.

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Sacred Places Update – Minton Turtle Effigy July 2011

Reid Dickie

I visited Minton Turtle Effigy on July 3, a hot and breezy day in southern Saskatchewan. The dirt road up to the site had about a foot of water at its lowest point so I opted to walk rather than drive. Donning my rubber boots I slogged through the damp spots to the top of the highest hill around. The grass at the effigy site is tall and thick from the year’s abundant moisture, making the effigy difficult to find for first time visitors. But it drew me in and I felt the welcome warmth and compassion I usually experience when I come here. With my new video camera, I took a panorama of the horizon from the site.

Looking southwest from the turtle effigy, this picture shows Big Muddy Lake, usually a dry bed rimmed with white alkali, fluid and blue on the horizon this year.

The Saskatchewan government has recognized the site by erecting three explanation boards for the place.The archies are still trying to figure out what the heck this thing is!

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Sacred Places – Castle Butte, SK

Reid Dickie

June 20, 2011

“Enticed back, fulfilling an unspoken responsibility.”

I wrote about Castle Butte in a post called Local Knowledge. Castle Butte, a quarter of a mile around and over 200 feet high, is a huge, ever-eroding sandstone monolith that stands like a sentinel over the vast distance of the Big Muddy Valley in southern Saskatchewan, a prominent landmark for millennia. Many times, I’ve stood next to Castle Butte and gazed down the miles-wide valley, its stratified walls burnished by afternoon sun. Since the valley has filled up over the past 8,000 years, I imagine it five times deeper, engorged with torrents of cold glacial runaway meltwater, carving a new language in a system of channels across the land, its syllables the unstoppable will of gravity driving fresh water toward a warm and welcoming sea. The same water chiseled Castle Butte’s precious shape.

This picture shows the butte holding a cloud.

This year, like last, I visited Castle Butte with my friend and spiritual ally Chris. Just like the returnees I write about in Local Knowledge, we were drawn back. Our detour due to flooding allowed the chance to visit the butte. We were eager to return and happy the gravel road through the valley was easily passable. My experience with Chris defies the reports in Local knowledge since we were alone both times we stopped there. This year, the butte’s sparse greenery is lush from the rains, as you can see in my pictures. When it rains heavy, the butte looks like a fountain.

These four pictures show the streams of erosion on one small face of the butte.

This picture shows one of several pinnacles that Castle Butte sports.

A hoodoo, sculpted by the elements, at Castle Butte.

This is the view across the Big Muddy Valley from Castle Butte.

Castle Butte stands as mute witness to its wild, watery genesis but a full participant in its saga of erosion and change. The wind and water still etch their calligraphy into its soft, willing sandstone, the people still return and all the while, Spirit aids and abets our needs. Majestic and mysterious, Castle Butte waits.

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Filed under Ancient Wisdom, Earth Phenomena, Local History, Natural Places, Roadside Attractions, Sacred Places, Saskatchewan, shaman, shamanism, Spirit

Giant Manitoba Sinkhole Is Getting Deeper! Update June 16

Reid Dickie

Compared to my visit to the sinkhole south of Dauphin a week ago, it is much deeper today. The hole covers at least three acres, the size of two Canadian football fields, and in some spots is now a hundred feet deep with more of the timothy field fallen into the pit. A large section of the field around the centre rim has already shifted down about a foot. It will end up in the chasm soon, too.

It’s difficult to indicate the scale of the hole but the open area you see in the pictures of the sunken field is a small part of the earth that shifted. In the bush around the field and at either end there is much physical turmoil suggesting the sinkhole extends as far as a quarter-mile along the Vermillion River. Along this portion, the river forms the boundary of Riding Mountain National Park. The river, swollen with Riding Mountain rainwater, has caused considerable erosion and property loss along its banks. Though the bottom of the sinkhole is dry with no evidence of river water, there could be a strong link between the moving earth phenomenon and the roiling water. So far, nothing official from a geologist.

Today was muggy and hot with thunderstorms rolling across the prairie. Tomorrow promises to be the same. As you can see from the pictures, the land is lush and green from the rain this year and the timothy continues to flourish a hundred feet below where it germinated. The aura of the site is one of inevitable change, the ever-unfinished business of the earth creating and re-creating itself moment by moment, sinkhole by sinkhole. Earth energies have been loosed and they abound amid new chaos for elemental spirits. Fascinating place! Watch a short video of the site.



Filed under Earth Phenomena, Local History, Natural Places

Finding Spirit on the Canadian Shield

Reid Dickie

Today my young friend Troy, who also practises shamanism, and I drove out to Whiteshell Provincial Park in eastern Manitoba which encompasses part of the southwestern edge of the vast Canadian Shield, the oldest rock in the world. Our intent was to visit Bannock Point Petroforms. The day was cloudy and cool.

To get to the site, we passed through Rennie, MB, proudly optimistic as you can see. Two hours outside Winnipeg we arrived at the petroform site. After smudging with sweetgrass and bringing ourselves into the moment we walked the short path to the stones.

Webbed Flight, my spirit helper, walked this very land 1200 years ago and today has free rein. He sings, cries, laughs, prays and dances around the large ceremonial circle laid out around a small stand of old pine trees festooned with colourful cloths. Webbed Flight’s gestures, postures, ancient language, song and spirit connection all found expression in me today around the old lichened rocks. Webbed Flight “lived again at home.”

We spent two hours communing and being present with Spirit, ending off with Troy and I drumming around the circle. We came away feeling refreshed, regenerated, very calm and peaceful. This evening, as I write this, the relaxed and happy feeling from Bannock Point and its ancient rocks still floods my consciousness. I am grateful to Spirit for yet another rejuvenation. It was a good day.

I took a few pictures of the various animal and human forms. The first is a horse, maybe, with a smaller version below its mouth. Next is the torso and legs of a human form, the rest of the body disturbed. And last is an abstract shape I found near the ceremonial circle. Click to enlarge.

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Filed under Ancient Wisdom, Local History, Old Souls, Parks, Sacred Places, Spirit

Sacred Places and Consciousness Part 2

Reid Dickie

Part Two

“Shamanic journeys provide opportunities to explore beyond our customary way of life and discover aspects of ourselves that are not evident in modern society or that are not culture-bound.” – Tom Cowan

If you haven’t already done them, I highly recommend you do three things before you proceed:

  • read Part One
  • print off and study both maps
  • read my FAQ page

Did you find yourself on the consciousness map? Bits and pieces of you all over? Personal growth is like a game of snakes and ladders. Each of us moves through these changes (or Fulcrums in Wilberese) with varying degrees of grace, growth and completion. Often, somehow, we are stepped on along the way, our growth stalls causing aspects of our being to mature at different speeds and times, if at all in severe cases. We may advance in mathematical cognition but be held back in emotions; advance in musical ability but be held back in social integration. No one passes through all the stages cleanly and sequentially, completing each one neatly and moving on. Mostly we are all over the board all the time until the higher abilities, call them adequacies, are developed and accessible to you. Then your focus is keen and sure, your vision is pure and honest. You are truly evolving. Sometimes you are still all over the board, too, but it’s way more fun now that you know what’s happening to you.

As you can see, development of consciousness is very much a hierarchy of abilities, a continuous increasing of adequacies. The higher we climb, the deeper we go, the more worlds open to us – more depth, more inclusion. Using a ladder metaphor, every rung presents new opportunities, accesses and includes more realities and brings us closer to Spirit. We know this because of the developmental changes you and I have experienced already to get to the point in our evolution of consciousness where we are able to read this page.

Much of what I describe in this essay is above Rational (F5) and well beyond the monological gaze of scientism. It is wisdom attained through inner work, through contemplation and introspection, by observing inner experiences and realizing they are as valid, as real, as consequential as exterior events. The change from the limitations of the exterior world to the utter limitlessness of the interior looks huge from the outside, but is much easier and more familiar when you begin looking at it from the inside out. Let’s do that now.

In our ordinary, daily consciousness most people operate on a Rational level (F5), the stage where we are able to think about thinking. Previously we could think about and act upon exterior realities. Attaining the Rational opens the new ability to reflect and act upon our own thoughts. Nothing that follows in this essay will make any sense at all to your Rational mind so try to see it as part of a complex network of interactions from the slightly higher Vision Logic level.

Above Rational exists Vision Logic (F6) where body/mind integration allows us to see patterns and networks of interactions. We become aware that both our mind and our body are experiences, objects that we can transcend and, thus, placing ourselves on the verge of the Transpersonal. Vision Logic adds up all the parts, discerns meanings and acts accordingly from practical to frivolous. It’s a rather lonely place where we are able to ask ourselves big questions, like “Why am I here?” and “What’s it all mean?” and where we can see all perspectives without favouring any particular one. Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard said about Vision Logic, “Here the self can no longer tranquilize itself with the trivial.”

I can report from experience, this place Kierkegaard describes is one of the loneliest a human being can inhabit. Described as warrior’s limbo or the dawn of self-actualization, it’s an uncomfortable in-between place where I had fresh clarity about my past, present and the world but virtually no certainty or clear understanding about the future. I had the big fat questions but scrawny little answers to gnaw on. I felt adrift in inklings, foggy possibilities loomed.

Writing this piece I have realized how many of my friends, both lifelong ones from childhood and ones gained over the last 15 years, are capable of and often employ Vision Logic in their awareness, work and worldview. The number is quite large and wide ranging, and includes young and old filmmakers, teachers, artists, musicians, massage therapists, writers, veterinarians, creative bureaucrats, real estate agents, doctors, actors, roofers and more. I can see how this same ability spread across a spectrum of careers was used differently by each individual. In some cases, it defined their individuality, on others, merely enhanced it. In a few cases they have transcended Vision Logic and, perhaps unwittingly, employed Psychic and Subtle techniques in their professions. This makes me blissful that my little life has attracted so many seekers, so many unabated curiosities, so many Old Souls, and even more joyful if I have contributed in any small positive way to their journey. That said, Vision Logic across the general population is rare.

The cure for warrior’s limbo, for the sad side of Vision Logic was to include and transcend it, turning it into a comfortable in-between place where spirits and shamans meet. That’s what happened next. The real process of personal discovery began in earnest for me in worlds inhabited by spirits and power animals.

Fulcrum 7 is the Psychic realm where most shamanic work begins. This is the beginning of the Transpersonal stage when my awareness, no longer confined to my body or ego, explores deeper regions of my being using shamanic drumming and intent. The Self has been transcended and transformed into its essential wisdom making new Psychic abilities possible. Through the discipline of shamanic journeying, I expand my awareness beyond myself to include the Psychic world in a deep, meaningful and inclusive way. More depth, more inclusion. It is a technique, an adequacy I have acquired, like being able to ride a bicycle or play pool. I can turn it on and off. It is rarer than Vision Logic in this culture.

One reason shamanism is effective in the Psychic realm is because here I have one foot in gross reflecting reality and the other in the Transpersonal. As my awareness becomes more inclusive I internalize more of the exterior world. I am transcending myself to include all of Nature because this is the scene of Nature mysticism. In this union with Nature, power animals arise as I begin to live more from inside than out, trusting intuitions, keenly watching for the spontaneous and unexpected during journeys.

In Psychic there is an enormous amount of information available that is in constant confusing motion, causing infectious, unusual empathies to build between my awareness and that of spirits and between spirits. I’m not a psychic so I rely on my spirit helpers and power animals to sort through all this information for me. Over the years, as this information passes back and forth between realms, I have developed honest and intimate friendships with spirits. This is what the Psychic allows me to experience – gathering arcane information.

Beyond the Psychic and even rarer is the Subtle realm (F8) where experiences are actually the seed forms of my existence. Sounds heavy! What’s happening is another expansion of my awareness, now including the Subtle. It’s the same process – more depth, more inclusion. I encounter processes much subtler, much more ephemeral than gross waking awareness. Information in Subtle comes in gentle forms with gentle names such as bliss currents and inner luminosities, expansive states of compassion, nothing like the experiences of my everyday reality or any previous realm. Patience and slow pulsations settle in my being. It is calm, peaceful but I am not alone.

As Psychic has Nature mysticism, Subtle has Deity mysticism. Here the union is with deities, fusion with my original pattern, the archetypal forms which arise out of sheer Emptiness. The potential now exists for coming face-to-face with the Divine. My spirit helpers are especially strong and easily accessible in Subtle. In Subtle I get the first intuitive glimpses of the Emptiness, opening up the possibility that the Kosmos emerges straight out of Emptiness and that I am simply a Witness to that arising. This is what the Subtle allows me to experience – fusion with spirits and a hint at The Source.

Higher and extremely rare, remember this is a hierarchy of abilities, is the Causal realm, so named because it does, indeed, cause everything. Something has to! Infinitely drenched in utter fullness, it is the home of my empty awareness – the Witness. Which witnesses what exactly? It sees the Causal as the scene of freedom and the source of creativity. In Causal, there is an overwhelming sense of freedom, of release, of detachment from everything I witness and then I realize I am this vast expanse of freedom, this limitless source of creativity through which all objects come and go. Witness is itself the Causal unmanifest. It is pure Emptiness. No surprise, for this is the realm of Formless mysticism. Deeper, more inclusive, this is what the Causal allows me to experience – having access to The Source.

Above that is Nondualism, the reality of all states and the source of awareness itself. Can’t report much from a place I haven’t consciously been.

Based on peak, plateau and adaptation of various realms, here’s how the stages of consciousness play out for me today: I have adapted to Vision Logic and upper Psychic/lower Subtle, meaning my awareness has expanded to include power animals and spirit helpers which are accessible at any time. I have plateaus at Subtle meaning, mostly during journeys, I have intense encounters with pantheons of spirits, many of them family members, usually when doing a healing for someone near or familial. My peak experiences into Causal are mere glimpses, fleeting and infrequent yet forceful in attracting me toward Spirit. Momentarily tasting the freedom, seeking the root of the Witness, grabbing for an iota of creativity when needed for a story or article, those are my brief experiences of Causal. Simply relaxing back into the Witness for a few seconds in my chair centres me and supplies the next idea or notion. Each experience contains a seed, an element of growth, a lesson. My life journey directs me to seek out every one.

I learned shamanism from Michael Harner. In his book The Way of the Shaman, he identifies six core elements that most shamans worldwide use in their practice:

  • call to heal – called rather than choosing the path
  • shamans move in two worlds: ordinary and non-ordinary reality (NOR)
  • shared conception of NOR and belief in the spirit world
  • access NOR through altered states of consciousness
  • harness the sacred and healing energies of objects
  • responsibility to community to heal and celebrate the sacredness of life

            In core shamanism, we fully accept and acknowledge that spirits exist. I have known spirits exist all my life. Another element is that shamans journey to either the Upper World or the Lower World. That’s where the spirits are. That’s where the power of the shaman’s intent, another basic element, is multiplied many fold. That’s where I meet my helper spirits and power animals, more core elements. That’s where my intent is focused and where I watch for the results as well as the unintended to arise. Both Upper and Lower worlds for me are usually in an imaginal natural place, a shallow stream in a narrow sunny valley is the most common place I go but I’ve met spirits in clouds, under the bark of trees and inside a wolf’s belly.

How does intent fit in? Good old intent! Besides sweetgrass and sagebrush, the best tool I have in my medicine bag is intent. Here’s how it works. A friend recently called me, frantic because he couldn’t find the master copy of a script he’d been working on and his computer had died. He specifically asked me if I could help him find the script. That’s the first thing – the problem and its obvious solution – he asked me to help and told me why. The intent was established. I journeyed in trance and in the Lower World I stated my intent and asked if any spirits could help. Bear, one of my power animals, quickly told me the answer and we moved on to other business (I often have several intents per journey – more efficient). I told my friend his script was under the backseat of his car to which he replied it was never in the car so that’s not possible. He was adamant. The script was behind the backseat. I’ve worked with him before using shamanism so he wasn’t surprised I found it for him.

How did that work? I intended to know the answer to the problem. I stated that intention as part of the reason for this journey. In trance I increased the power of that intent by announcing it in the Lower World and asking if a spirit knew the answer. How did Bear know? As I mentioned, there is an enormous amount of information moving around in the upper stages of consciousness, especially in the psychic and subtle. That’s why good psychics have an easy job. I access that information through spirit helpers like Bear. I ask for the spirit’s help and keep on patiently asking until an answer or answers arise. Knowing and being have coalesced.

Another example, less specific this time. At a weekend shamanism workshop we were doing various exercises, journeying for each other. A young fellow, Troy, asked me to journey about any possible job prospects he had, especially regarding a move to fulltime as a educational assistant. I took that intent into trance and posed it in the Lower World, several times to no avail. If it doesn’t work there, try the Upper World where I traveled in the same journey, posing the intent there. Eagle, one of my power animals, sailed next to me through the azure sky, opened its wing wide and showed me children playing in a pool on the underside of its wing. I couldn’t hear the kids, just see them. I asked Eagle if that was specific to Troy’s question and it was. I told Troy what Eagle showed me about the pool and he couldn’t make anything out of that. So the answer was not so clear…yet. That was Sunday. On the next Thursday Troy called me all excited. He’d just gotten a fulltime job with the school division that involved taking kids, some of them deaf, to the Pan-Am Pool twice a week. As in the case of the script, shamanism did not interfere with the world in order to get the answer for Troy. It just pointed toward the answer and said be patient. But the process, the how, was the same: high intent, stated in trance, patience and alertness.

I have tried to explain the nature of the various stages of consciousness available to us. In Part 3, I will share some of the specific inner experiences that occur at each stage and how they relate to sacred places, and give greater background into the significance and use of spirits.

I am indebted to Ken Wilber for giving me a philosophical context for my shamanic experiences. Having the benefit of his work and the language he uses to describe various stages of consciousness, adds greatly to my work and takes nothing away from it. Again I recommend Ken Wilber’s book A Brief History of Everything if you want more detail.

This essay is permanently on my Sacred Places page.


Filed under Ancient Wisdom, ken wilber, Natural Places, Sacred Places, shamanism, Spirit

Tiger Bear Eagle

For more information on power animals, see FAQ

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Tibetan Book of the Dead – A Map of Dying






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Sacred Places and Consciousness Part 1

Reid Dickie



“Holy places lie dormant for long periods because that which created the place

 waits and watches for a time when certain historic moments occur and conditions

 are set in place, conditions which allow wisdom to come through certain people

who will bring it forth into the consciousness of that era.”

 – Joseph Rael aka Beautiful Painted Arrow


“All depth is interpreted.”

 – Ken Wilber


            Based on my experience, sacred places offer an opportunity for my inner self and the outer world to meet in peace, purpose and ease, a harmonious alignment of in here with out there. This began growing within me sixteen years ago when I peeled the rind of modern life away from my being and re-encountered the vast and mysterious plains first hand, their subtle flavours ashimmer across my skin and the sky. Every summer since then I have, to varying degrees, traveled the prairies and walked the trails that lead to Spirit. I’ve done the fieldwork, “put my boots to the ground,” as one friend reminded me.

            With a quick mental count I can easily think of a dozen sacred places in Manitoba and a dozen others in Saskatchewan I have visited more than once, performing ritual at most of them. Sacred Places on this blog gives you a good overview of the types of sites in both provinces. Although a westward diffusion of changing culture is evident in site uses and designs, the common feature of them all is Spirit, or rather access to Spirit. (For a better understanding of my terminology and meanings, I recommend you take a few minutes now to read FAQ on my blog.)

            Here’s what happened to me at Moose Mountain Medicine Wheel on October 9, 2010:

            I rattle, sing my power song and spiral around the outside of the stone circle. Very quickly I feel peace and holiness surround me; every step, every breath, every glance is a miracle almost too beautiful to bear. I spiral in toward the centre where I am summoned to the nest at the core of the cairn. I carefully climb over the rocks to the centre. There, on a bed of rock, open to the heavens and the earth, I ask, with a wavering voice, “What?” Even before the answer comes, I am trembling and tears begin to flow.

            Spirit gave me three clear and real directions at that moment, ponder points. I heard a soft but firm voice tell me I needed to go deeper into this, control my ego and write. While my body is on its knees, a weeping bag of snot, my mind is recording those instructions, already processing, and my spirit is soaring in ecstasy.

            All three parts of my being are fully integrated and harmonic at this moment. Each transforms the others. There is no separation between body, mind and spirit, The One into the Many, the Many into the One. A state of bliss.

            You can read my full report from this site here. I’m using my Moose Mountain experience because of its similarities to my contact with Spirit at many sites. It is common for humans to react emotionally when approaching Spirit. Getting that close to the Source is a rare occurrence. Tears are frequent at very powerful places like Moose Mountain as are spontaneous singing, dancing, gestures, sign language, clowning, solemn prayer or bouts of uncontrollable laughter. I nearly went off the edge of the hill rolling on the ground laughing at Wild Man Butte.

            Although I have listed these safeguards before, I offer them here as a starting point for visiting sacred places. Because of the nature of the energy present at sacred sites, it is important to visit them in an appropriate manner. Ancient sites require of us a special attention; they require us to be wise in the present moment. Here are some basic safeguards when researching ancient energy. Smudging is a suitable cleansing method, either a small twist of sweetgrass or cedar inside your vehicle or outside, but not if it’s dry weather. This comprehensive list is by writer Maxine Asher. Adherence is personal but I have found #6, #7 and #8 to be most important to me.

1.     Maintain optimum mental and physical health.

2.     Practice interaction with vibrations at local ancient sites.

3.     Do not preprogram information about the area you plan to visit.

4.     Begin work in relatively untraveled regions.

5.     Eat lightly before visits

6.     Transmit less and receive more.

7.     Never enter a site in ‘neutral’. Always manifest a positive aura of protection at all times.

8.     Always discharge energies after leaving a site.

9.     Systematically record observations and experiences.

10.  Be patient in waiting for results.

11.  Travel alone whenever possible.

12.  Be careful in your handling of words and intonations at ancient sites.

            I have found a sympathetic frame of mind and are ready to approach a sacred site. Presence, being in the moment is always the first and most important step when visiting sacred places. Most every report in Sacred Places contains a description of my arrival and how I prepare. It is important to honour the rituals when attending at sacred sites. For me this begins with sweetgrass, sage, and/or cedar smudging; being positive, protected and prepared; being patient, careful and open. I have learned to wait to be welcomed. Caution prevails at all times.

            This little process of waiting brings me seriously into the present moment and holds me there. I must wait – open, alert, fully present. Eventually, the contraction of being loosens. I relax and feel welcomed. Thereafter, my approach to the site serves to increase my presence, which becomes natural and easy, flowing with the local spirits.

            Rattling stirs up the spirits. My power song is my signature; I sing it at all sacred places. As I near the central cairn, enraptured by the beauty of simply being, integration is occurring rapidly. Body, mind and soul are utterly immersed in Spirit. The gaps between body, mind and soul are closing due to the singular purpose of my presence and Spirit. Transformation is underway, transcendence is very near. Ecstatic, I received the message at Moose Mountain. I am blissful, burning in ecstasy, tasting my spiritual nature. Paradise attained, Joseph Campbell would describe it as “The rapture of participation in a manner of being beyond time.”

            Sacred places are portals where the veils are thin allowing easy communing with Spirit. I have used all those phrases to try to reveal what actually happens to me at sacred places. At this point language displays its limits but, in a word, what happens out there is transcendence, surpassing.

            What is transcended and surpassed? Our broken selves, the three delicate aspects of being we each possess that thrive on being lovingly entwined but seldom are: body, mind and soul. Once integrated, access to Spirit opens. Culturally, the body/mind split is encouraged and exploited endlessly in media and advertising; healthy integration of all three is rare and disparaged.

            What’s the process to get to transcendence, to integrate body mind and soul, to unity resulting in bliss? To understand this we need a firm grasp of consciousness, how it develops through our lives and where it can take us if we use our inner technology. It would be handy to have a map of our consciousness to trace these steps. Aha! Here’s one!


           Ken Wilber Map #1

Ken Wilber Map #2

          Take a long look at Ken Wilber’s Orienting Generalizations to Track the Evolution of Your Consciousness. Ideally, print off each page on a separate sheet and place page 2 to the right of page 1 extending the map horizontally. Designed to assist you in following the evolution of your and everyone’s consciousness from birth to the present and, potentially, beyond, the map shows the various stages along the path of personal growth. The higher you go, the deeper you go, the bigger you get. The map distills much of Wilber’s thought on the spectrum of consciousness, the potentials within each of us and the process to achieve each one. Our consciousness grows and develops upward so read each column of the map from bottom to top as if it were a plant growing toward the sun.

            Each column represents some aspect of our being with the specific content of the column listed in bold along the bottom. Each stage and what happens there is noted by one of Wilber’s fulcrums, reading across the map. I included some modern research from Maslow, Loevinger and Kohlberg plus visions of the perennial philosophy from Plotinus and Aurobindo, thinkers separated by culture, experience and 1600 years. Pathologies and treatments required inclusion.

            Study Wilber’s Orienting Generalizations, print them off, take them to coffee, get to know them and yourself…and everyone. Try to find yourself on the map. You are on there. We all are. Remember Map Rule #1: don’t confuse the map with the territory. You read the map. You live the territory.

            In Part Two on Sunday, April 24, I will explore the spectrum of consciousness as it applies to shamanism (which begins at the psychic stage) and explore the nature and potential of each transpersonal stage.  If you want to delve into Ken Wilber in more detail on the topics I’m discussing, I recommend his 1996 book, A Brief History of Everything available at fine bookstores everywhere. 

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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.


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