For several months now I’ve been involved in a transition of sorts. Call it finally “cashing in my initiation chip,” if you will.
To explain I’ll share something my sister-friend Dee sent me recently. It’s certainly not something that is new to me. I’ve known I that carried the Wounded Healer archetype for decades. Yet the fact that someone else so close to me, with so many intimate connections to my new path shared it in an email recently kind of brought it full circle.
What she sent me was what Wikipedia says about a shaman’s initiation:
The wounded healer is an archetype for a shamanic trail and journey. This process is important to the young shaman. S/he undergoes a type of sickness that pushes her or him to the brink of death. This happens for two reasons:
- The shaman crosses over to the under world. This happens so the shaman can venture to its depths to bring back vital information for the sick, and the tribe.
- The shaman must become sick to understand sickness. When the shaman overcomes her or his own sickness s/he will hold the cure to heal all that suffer. This is the uncanny mark of the wounded healer.
I’ve mentioned in more than one place that my work is founded on just this kind of “initiation.” In 1985, while leaving a Houston Astros baseball game I was stricken with a vascular incident that changed my life forever. I survived it against all odds according to Methodist Hospital neurosurgeons, and I walked out of the hospital on my own two legs to boot (okay, so there was a walker involved, too) after rejecting their admonitions to accept a wheelchair.
For decades an awareness that I had survived to share healing with others was my daily companion. And I set out to learn everything I could to stay well with a plethora of residual challenges from my spinal cord injury, all while raising four children as a single parent and running a business.
More importantly I was guided every step of the way with an inner connection to vast spiritual resources and support. I had the bump in the night experiences of logic defying synchronicities, many of which I’ll be blogging about. And I’ve seen energy fields and light and auras, although they’re mundane to me now. And with every experience I went right back to “chopping wood and carrying water.” Or in my case, changing diapers, then washing laundry and more recently, writing for healthcare clients.
At long last, over the past year or so it has been made unmistakably clear to me that the time for stepping into my new work is now. That the seeds have flourished and the fruit is ripe. To quote one fellow wise woman and mentor it was time to “just breathe, Allison! No more classes, nor more studying. Push that baby out. It’s time.”
For months now I’ve called this new part of myself that I want to own “Medicine Woman” in talks with very close friends and mentors in order to clarify and help focus my intention. Certainly it was never an attempt to confer any such literal title of the sorts upon myself. Unlike my friend Dee, I’m certainly not an enrolled member of any Native tribe even though we share a language for these principles, so I clarify to avoid any confusion in my using this term for the purposes of this post.
I am deeply honored that my friend, a Cherokee and Choctaw descendant and a lifelong student of shamanism and devotee of many of the fields’ most honored medicine men and women, would refer to my process as an initiation of this type. She and I share a deep purpose and we’ve known it ever since we first met.
Archetypes and names are powerful. In my case, I’ve needed Medicine Woman to hold a space for this new calling. I had to be careful to evaluate each step and opportunity that arises in order to ensure that the direction I take during this important time propels me closer to my purpose and away from any unnecessary distractions. I’ve had to mindfully set new, subtle boundaries – one of the biggest things I have to teach, actually – around my activities as I’m connecting with parts of who and what I am that I’ve kept sheltered and incubating.
In typical grand style (Spirit is NEVER shy with me), I recently got another unintended subliminal message from a sister-friend that it was time to become Medicine Woman. The Connector, the friend that connected me with Doctor Julie, sent me a picture of a painting that she had literally bumped into in her daughter’s closet. She asked if I had a place for this piece that had migrated over from a previous residence and had been packed away for years unseen. When it fell into the doorway of the closet and needed to be moved she thought “Hmmm, this reminds me of Allison.”
The painting in question – illustrating this post – is called Walking Horse Woman and was painted by Cherokee artist, Carol Griggs in 1988, not long after my “initiation.” I was stunned at the fact that my non-horsey friend – in my life for a mere 2 years – possessed such a thing. The medicine bag around her neck and the way that her horse is following her are unmistakable symbols to me, alluding to my work. And the colors were as if custom made for the new office Julie and I had just set up, right down to the paint colors I chose for the walls, the Persian rug on the waiting room floor, and the furniture.
As if to punctuate the cosmic joke, The Connector emailed me after I enthusiastically accepted her offered gift:
It’s funny, the print has been stored in G’s closet for last couple of years. The other night it “jumped out” and blocked the door. That’s when I saw it again. I’m in purge mode and thought that I won’t be hanging it up. Then thought of you because it reminded me of you. I was worried about the colors, since they are unique or haven’t been popular recently. Imagine my surprise when you said they matched the office!
Now, the question is, why is the scorpion there?
You see, in between the painting and the glass, a scorpion had crawled in and gotten trapped. Although The Connector and I had NEVER shared shamanic insights or talked much of spirituality she knew that animals were important to me and had a “hunch” that the scorpion was important.
Of course I knew what many of the animals in my life represented but scorpions were a new thing to me. So I checked some of my references.
Scorpion is traditionally associated with shamans and shamanic healing. As a totem animal, scorpion confers rejuvenation, transformation, death and rebirth – and healing at the cellular level.
One of the greatest powers that scorpion totem has to offer is the ability to remove and cut out those things that are no longer needed or useful.
Hmmm…friend purging her house to downsize, me purging things in my life that no longer serve a greater vision. Shamanic healing? Like I said, Spirit is never boring in my life.
That said, I want to make it clear that I’m in no way presenting myself as an authentic Medicine Woman. I am inspired by, I resonate with, and I carry spiritually an attunement with many things grounded in earth-honoring spirituality. At first, I searched for many years to document my grandfather’s oral tradition that he was part Cherokee in an attempt to explain my resonance with these concepts. And what I realized after the futility of my efforts is that it doesn’t really matter. People of all races have been oriented this way for eons.
I feel blessed that this is the perfect time and place for me to step into those shoes.