So, you are probably wondering what a colorful bird has to do with spirituality and shamanism. Bear with me, and all will be revealed.
A week ago I was in the cloud forest of Costa Rica (first time, wonderful trip!) and the guide heard a rumor from another guide that the rarely seen resplendent quetzal was up ahead.
If you have ever done any bird watching in a group, you know that often a bird is pointed out, but it is difficult to spot. In this case, it turned out, the quetzal was behind several layers of branches, way up in the forest canopy. So, to see it, you had to stand right where someone else who saw the bird was just standing, and then you had to be patient while the wind moved the branches. In my experience, I saw the beak first, then the red breast of the bird, then the blue tail. So, while I did not have the full picture all together, I saw this magnificent and colorful bird in several pieces, then was able to piece the full picture together in my mind.
OK, what does this have to do with shamanism and our spiritual path. I think it is very parallel. First, everyone in a bird watching group has their own experience. You see what you see, not what someone else sees. Then, in this case, as with any special knowledge, it was important to use the same method--stand in the same spot--in order to see anything at all. Then, the way the quetzal was revealed, a part at a time, is quite similar to spiritual revelation, where you get pieces of the truth; and then piece it together to form your own truth.
In short, this experience on the path in the cloud forest reinforced my ideas on the intersection of shamanism and the Western Mysteries: Each person has their own truth. Find a good guide, and follow their instructions to learn traditional methods so you can access the universal nature of spiritual truth. As you access, it is not always obvious and clear, but you get pieces until it all comes into focus.
Looking forward to seeing you at one of the workshops or community circles.