The Teaching Tree

I recently found myself as the focus of the grandmother circle’s prayers in the dream field. I could see all of their faces, their altars, and hear their prayers. But the result of their prayers was that I was stripped of everything I possessed. In a living and constructive indigenous tradition this can be a step towards a genuine initiation. Instead I found myself sitting in a sterile empty auditorium with no life at all. When I decided I did not like this, the whole dream field disintegrated into black karmic sludge again.

I grew up with a very pragmatic experience of shamanism. For me, there is an immediate correlation between my work in the dream-field and my mundane 3-d life. My expectation based on experience is that the changes in visionary realm should and do manifest in the 3-d world, which is really unfortunate in situations like this. So after a full night of this dream repeating itself at least a dozen times, I had to contact some of the people involved and let them know what the results of their prayers actually are. The grandmother’s impact on my physical and financial well-being has been devastating.

I understand that indigenous peoples have recently been dispossessed of their land, languages and traditions. I understand that many generations of modern peoples have grown up without any land, language, or traditions to lose. I understand that contemporary women of all backgrounds feel powerless and dispossessed. Perhaps my dreams were about clearing that  residue of grief and rage and loss:

  • But that does not justify anyone continuing to dispossess others.

Read my post ‘The Damsel In Distress’ (click here) and check out Alana Munro’s Women Behaving Badly .

Perhaps because I do a lot of my spiritual work in the dream-time, I can count the number of repeating dreams I have had on one hand. Unfortunately, what that means is that the repetitious dreams are real humdingers, a wrestling with all but unresolvable issues until there is some kind of transmutation. This latest incident reminded me of one of those episodes that happened about ten years ago. For nearly half a year every single time I went to sleep I found myself on a stage with full hall of faces looking up at me from the audience. Everything was beautiful, covered with lacy white cloth and ethereally lovely cut  flowers.  And underneath all the smiling faces  would be this hideous reek.

So I would start pulling down the lovely cloth, getting people on their feet , knocking over the chairs in auditorium.  Sure enough, under each chair in the hall were patterns of drains etched into the floor filled with rivulets of black karmic sludge all flowing towards the stage. Then I would call out the organizers as well as the audience and demand to know what this was about.  Because I had been asked to come teach, but instead of actually wanting to learn, these people wanted me to make everything  look pretty and nice and especially EASY for them all while they dumped their psychic and emotional sewage for me to process. Both audience and organizers would become more and more demanding, threatening, and insulting, claiming that I was obliged to absorb all of their sewage without comment or complaint because they had put me on stage and they had made me look special and I owed them for it.

When the deadlock appeared unbreakable, I would wake up sweaty, distressed, and exhausted.  Eventually I would get back to sleep and there I would be yet again.  People drop into REM or dream-stage sleep about every 40-60 minutes, so I would have that dream at least half a dozen times every night. This went on for six months.  I was getting pretty irritable from sleep deprivation then, (and I am still seriously fed up with the whole guru scene)  but finally, one morning about dawn, I was in the midst of my dream rampage, ripping the stage apart, exposing the undermining  spiritual rot of hypocrisy, greed, and self-aggrandizement, when suddenly the entire audience turned into a single giant tree. That startled me into silence, and then I looked down at myself and realized I too appeared as a tree.  When I looked back up, the single giant tree broke apart into individuals again. But each was a single bare-root sapling.  And for the first time I felt that I could help these beings get their roots into the living earth.

Unfortunately, any dream that I have to repeat over a thousand times before I can resolve it means there is some seriously entrenched resistance to change out there and sadly this dream has manifested time and time again. Part of my reason for blogging is because since  I seem to be somehow invested in teaching, the least stress on me is to have my words and position available 24/7 on the web. While I understand that organized religion has entrained people into being a passive audience, just as in  my dreams, I find it exhausting and frustrating to have to keep saying to people, I don’t want to be part of an empty performance. One of the very  few advantages of living with chronic pain is that it really does give one perspective. And after a few near-death experiences, one realizes that social approbation is truly irrelevant. My position remains the same as in those dreams: that the only way to truly honor not just me, but any genuine teacher is to actually learn something, to put in the time and effort and sweat and tears to embody what you have received from them. That will bring both teacher and student satisfaction and joy.

If you would neither guru nor groupie be, you have to find your own roots.  In order to find them you have to be aware that they exist. I did not realize that part of the resistance in my dreams had to do with an extraordinary denial of even the existence of roots. That was brought home to me by a woman who bought a set of my cards (click here). She told me that she understood the heavens and the elements and the animals, but she did not understand why all these plants and or organs of our body were included.  So I went wandering through the internet looking at shamanism and the World Tree.

From what I read I can surmise that he majority of neo-shamanistic sorts are introduced to the visionary realms through entheogenic plants.  And they are drawn to take the plants because of an innate dissatisfaction with the mundane. In a traditional shamanistic view, the sense of dissatisfaction is the ancestors’ call and the plants are those who open the door.  But apparently  the widespread neo-shamanistic conception of the World Tree excludes both plants and ancestors even though we all owe our existence to our parents and we all  breathe air, drink water, and eat food that is the gift of the producers and recyclers of the ecosystem, the Plant people. Plants take our waste, carbon dioxide from our breath, water and nitrogen from our urine, everything else from our guts, composting it and returning it to the cycle of life. They maintain the environment, producing breathable oxygen, keeping the waters moving,  stabilizing temperature, and regulating the weather.

Every single human being has indigenous ancestors. Without them, we have no body to incarnate in. We all need to recognize and honor our roots because our ecosystem is collapsing,  because when our roots are denied, we drown in our own waste.

click for a beginning or here for more


2 thoughts on “The Teaching Tree

  1. “that the only way to truly honor not just me, but any genuine teacher is to actually learn something, to put in the time and effort and sweat and tears to embody what you have received from them. ”
    Very well stated and important insight for me. Teachers can take you only as far as you’re willing and able to travel.

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