Full Circle: Brightness to the Dark Night and back – a spiritual journey

I came to my path not through academic study, but through my own reading, listening and above all, personal experience. I am deeply grateful for the contributions of others, those on whose shoulders I stand, that enable me to have an appreciation for the importance, validity, and context of what I’ve seen. If I am to make a contribution it will be by recording my experience as clearly as I can, then exploring what that means in the largest context of what I know of shamanism, spirituality, capital-C Consciousness, and mysticism.

My early experiences with realms beyond three dimensions, five senses, and linear time were colored by fundamentalist Christianity. I am still exploring, unpacking, and healing the ways in which that experience limited me.

I am also still unpacking the ways in which that experience expanded me. I had occasional flashes, direct experience, of realms immensely vast, powerful, and beautiful. In those flashes I knew that I mattered, that I am loved, and that fundamentally everything in the universe is okay.

More context: the flashes referred to in the previous paragraph began before I was 10 years old. At that age I allowed my fear to inhibit me from expressing myself. I felt misunderstood or denied, and was sometimes punished for thinking and asking questions outside the box. I learned to be a chameleon, to fit in, and to suppress my personal truth. You could say I even gaslit my own self.

My first undeniable shamanic experience occurred in my early teens. I was alone in a tiny rowboat, fishing on a small lake I knew well in Ontario’s Canadian Shield. There were no human roads, habitations, or structures for several miles around except some cabins more than a mile away at the end of the road on the north shore.

I had been coming with my family to that lake for the two months of summer holidays since I started school. My relationship with the natural world began there. On the water, alone in a rowboat or canoe, I was at home. As I grew older, I would go fishing for longer and longer until eventually it was not unusual for me to be away from the cabin for six or eight hours. Sometimes I would experience a connection with nature that included but transcended my physical senses. In those moments all of what I saw, heard, felt, smelled, and tasted coalesced into a unified physical awareness that was then subsumed in the unity of all physical existence. I knew I was one with nature’s physical being while simultaneously aware that my spark of uniqueness, my soul, occupied a body that was uniquely mine. I would occasionally feel the endlessness of the cycles of days, seasons, creation, growth, and death.

That feeling eventually came to me more often when I sought solitude on the water, and allowed myself to slow down and open my senses. I came to associate being alone in nature with safety, serenity, and beauty. It was my happy place, but it was still a place of solitude – until the day the land spoke.

The day was warm and calm. I had relaxed into the meditatively repetitive motions of fishing, casting and retrieving my lure over and over again as I drifted along. Conditions were ideal. A light breeze moved me parallel to the shoreline, and it was easy to cast my lure close to the rocks where I hoped to attract a hungry fish.

Abruptly, with no warning, I felt an immense and powerful presence on the shore. In an instant I went from relaxed to hypervigilant, scalp tingling, eyes wide, body tense. My heart pounded. I tried to find a noise or a motion that would indicate a bear or other large animal in the bush, something that would give me an explanation for the feeling and a focus for my vigilance. But nothing appeared, nothing moved.

The feeling got stronger. It seemed to be in the rock. I had no teachings or beliefs to help me to understand it, and I became thoroughly frightened. I pulled in my line and rowed quickly away, feeling like a fool for allowing myself to be scared by something that the rational part of me believed could not be real.

Once again, I found myself in a situation where I knew of no one I could trust to talk to, someone who might validate or help me understand my experience. I stayed well away from that spot for the rest of the summer. As I enjoyed the activities of the summer and a new power boat that my parents bought, I explored farther away from the cabin, sometimes accompanied by my brothers and occasionally as a family. The uneasy experience of that one day faded into the pleasure of one of my best summers on the lake.

Over the years the natural world became my refuge, my temple. I spent many hours alone, wandering and sitting. I also developed the basic skills of being comfortable in those environments. As a  young adult I learned about edible wild plants, and for a couple of years I completely geeked out on edible mushrooms (that was in the days before psilocybin was a thing).

At the age of 42 I encountered the writings, and shortly after that the direct personal teachings, of the shamanic path and the seamlessly integrated physical skills taught by Tom Brown Junior. My life took a 90° turn. In my first sweatlodge ceremony, with Tom Brown, I had a vision that rocked my world for weeks and continues to this day to guide and empower my life.

In the years that followed I pursued the path of shamanism and related ceremonial and physical ways with two primary teachers. I also taught ancient physical skills and the shamanic path to willing students who rewarded me deeply in many ways.

Through studying and practicing earth-based shamanism I had learned to communicate with the spirits of stones, water, wind, trees, low plants, and animals. I eventually returned to that rocky bank at the lake to offer my gratitude to it for communicating with me, and to tell the story of my life and learning to the spirits there. They were pleased, and I could say that we all had a good chuckle at the memory of me fleeing from their call.

The next step of expansion was into the realm of past lives, life between incarnations, and concepts of Consciousness. I dove into mysticism, reading about the experiences of eastern and western mystics. I discovered writing poetry as a way of expressing my yearning and attempts to understand.

There was a low point at which I began to doubt the validity of my shamanic teaching, thinking that it was no longer relevant in the modern world. Then I noticed that the topics of current day discussions of consciousness and the ideas of spiritual or energetic awareness, the identification of other beings and the channeled information that they offer – all of these began to look similar conceptually and even in terminology, to the shamanic pathways that I knew.

Full circle. I began to understand that the shamanic teachings and their orientation to the natural world provided me with a grounding that enabled me to make journeys into indescribably vast, beautiful, and loving realms, to communicate with the beings there, and to return to physical consciousness with the understandings from those realms. Equally importantly, I was able to come back and not feel as though I had returned to something ugly, sordid, or limited, but to appreciate the uniqueness and magnificence of this Earth.

I understand the universe as seamless, a progression through densities and levels of experience, scope, and understanding that meets our senses first as what we call the inanimate world of minerals, molecules, and chemical reactions. It progresses from there to all beings that reproduce – all, that is, except humans. We are unique, and our responsibility in this Third Density – being human – is to explore what it means to be self-aware.

Beyond the Third Density or human realm there are other densities.

I should reference the model that I’m using here. It derives from the Law of One, in which a high-level channeled entity named Ra describes an octave of densities. The term “density” refers to light. Light becomes more intense, or more dense, as an entity moves up through the densities.

In my own experience of visiting realms above my current human density, I have also experienced a vastness that is not referred to by Ra. Part of my work in these current times is to integrate that with what I know; to integrate concepts of shamanism, the Law of One, life between lives, and my own experiences of vastness.

I know the universe to be holographic and coherent. I also understand myself to be fragment of that hologram, which means that contained within me are all other components and features of the universe. In ordinary consciousness I experience only a tiny segment through my senses. But more and more clearly, my consciousness is continuously expanding, and I have the delight of feeling all of existence in different levels.

As someone trained in the scientific method, and having a natural bent toward models of creation, I am attracted by the idea that what I or anyone else perceives is part of something which is truly all-encompassing. When I say “anyone else,” I mean everything that has consciousness, from water and stones and the air around me to the highest level beings whose communication I have experienced directly or in my reading and listening. And every being in between.

One phrase that sticks in my imagination comes from one of those very high-level beings, who speak of what exists beyond their consciousness, saying “those are depths which we do not plumb.” What an entrancing mystery that opens up! – That there truly is the absolutely unknowable, not only at our level of existence, but at all higher densities.

So I look at all of the different pathways and what they have in common. I understand that my work, my role, is now to be a teacher and elder. When I find someone at whose feet (or in whose book, video, website, or podcast) I wish to sit and learn, I am still grateful and delighted. May the journey never end!

April 2023


If you wonder why you’re on this planet at this time, let’s talk. If you’re seeking growth, healing, guidance, an expanded sense of possibility for yourself, or personal/spiritual mentoring, let’s talk. Contact me for a half-hour no-charge exploration of how I might assist you on your journey.

Share With a Friend

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *