There are many, many stories of the Hero's Journey to move humanity through a seemingly impossible trial period. These are stories filled with adversity, and we are witness to the breaking point of the Hero's spirit, often on physical, mental, emotional and spiritual levels. We root for the Hero. We see his/her strengths and innate potential as a human and as a spark of the Divine. And, we often see this when they don't see it themselves.
We all go through continual trials, as life is a process of initiations.
From the shamanic view, shamanic initiates or neophytes, are often challenged by Spirit by a series of perceived insurmountable experiences. These experiences might include but are not limited to: acts of war, divorce, job loss, life-threatening illness, lightning strike, homelessness, death of a close family member, losing all financial resources, all connections of friends or family, just to name a few for example. The Initiate often endures trials that challenge beliefs, safety and security and the understanding of Self previously known. The shifting is on every dimensional reality - emotional, mental, physical and most importantly, spiritual. In this way, the soul of a neophyte (or shaman-in-the-making) is shaped and formed by Spirit. It might be said that Spirt loves the neophyte so much that the purpose of these extraordinary experiences is to show the neophyte just what they are made of.
From this view, we see the neophyte's Helping Spirits shaking up the life of the neophyte and waking that person up to realities of which they have been previously either neglectful or simply unconscious. This process is to create a human that can then be free of previous limiting notions, and become what is universally known in the shamanic world as the "Hollow Bone," or the reed by which the practitioner's Helping Spirits can then work with and through. The making of the one who sees "in the dark" and walks both worlds is not an easy path, however.
It takes surrender, patience and a deep trust in the process. Oftentimes, these are the actual lessons one must learn in allowing Spirit to move the practitioner to the other side of the initiation. It is important to note that not every person who undergoes great challenge is being shaped to be a shaman. It is only through the lens of an experienced, trained practitioner that one can be told this is occurring.
I am forever grateful to the teachers and healers, including indigenous Elders who recognized what was occurring for me and energetically held me during this process.
In my own experience, I was initiated for seven years by Spirit through a severe illness that sent me into a state of being at Nursing Home Level of Care, in a wheelchair and dependent on family. It also brought me through several Near Death Experiences. I was shown that if I did not choose the Path, I would die. I was also asked during these times if I wanted to go back Home. It was a no-brainer for me - I had too much to do! However, even when I chose the Path, the initiation did not end. It was not until I fully surrendered, and was given sacred information and healing, that things truly shifted.
I was taken to realms that were beyond the mundane human experience. I experienced the joining of my throat chakra and third eye, where my two cats would hear my thoughts and respond. I experienced seeing beings of which I am now aware of and others that still remain mysterious. Sound changed, visions changed, I "saw" sound in pure vibration and color. I saw vortices and powerful beings who are the Stewards of Nature. Supernatural experiences occurred and Spirit began to move through me. It was humbling, frightening at times and life-changing.
Suffice it to say, my plans for leading a "normal" life as a public schoolteacher were not what the Universe planned for me. In many ways, the person I was has died, and the gifts I received in exchange were mind-blowing, physically changing and took me to levels of being that I never knew existed.
In the first part of my recovery, I found that meshing the worlds that I experienced did not marry well with the world we live in. However, as I have been able to integrate my initiation, I see that they exist all at once, in a multidimensional overlaying that the Universe is. I know now that, like most practitioners, I walk both this world and the Otherworld.
Is it easy? No.
Is it my duty to walk them? Indeed.
If you believe you are being initiated by Spirit, I would be honored to help you on your journey.