Better than building a snowman. (wink - wink)
This article is beneficial for adults interested in nature and #shamanism as well as adults with children in their life
FOR THE ADULTS: A Winter's Tale :
Ahhhh, Magic. How can we forget the simple wonders of winter magic we experienced in childhood … snow angels becoming animated, sticking our tongue on something frosty or catching that first perfect snow flake, watching water gurgle beneath cracks in the ice, following animal prints in the snow, the sounds of crunching branches under our boots and snow suits… and of course, icicles. Glorious icicles! We genuinely felt the life force of the invisible natural world pulsing throughout the natural world when we were young; but how many of us are tapping into that magic even more authentically now that we’re “all grown up?” And perhaps more importantly, have our children of today forgotten about natural world magic ?
When I moved from New England to Canada many years ago, I was only on Canadian soil 2 weeks before I met someone remarkable whose eventual friendship would alter my life forever. I met an incredible shaman elder whom I ended up moving around with in one way or another for over 17 years. It was a magical time and during one of our first walks together, this is how the conversation went as we tromped through the snowy winter woods, off the beaten path:
At one point, my Scottish shaman friend exclaimed “ Ahhh, Lassie, I can see you are already moving about on the other side “ ( I had both feet on a trail walking along side him far as I could tell )…I looked at him with a bit of confusion. And it was a sassy cold day, not for the faint hearted. I wanted to keep moving, not stop and converse, so I just let his comment slide. The shaman I’ve met in my time are either secretly fiendish when imparting lessons or they know something most of us don’t. Over the many years I've come to know it’s the latter; that they know something most of us don’t. But in that very second I was pondering the fact that we were walking against fierce wind, snow pelting on my face with ice shards, and this was his idea of “ a nice, fun, relaxing, walk.” We actually had to shimmy up a rather high steep cliff and down the other side with unsteady rocks, just to get to the center of the valley instead of following the direct mapped out park trail. I was calculating in my boots how much unnecessary discomfort I was experiencing due to his chosen compass, but I chugged alongside him best I could. Finally we came to a flat open clearing. “ Do you see it Lassie? DO YOU ? “ I was staring out into a beautiful landscape, majestic in its snow white purity but I wasn’t seeing anything worth getting that excited about. He put his hands on my shoulders and gently ushered me into facing the wind as if we were trying to be very stealthy. Again, some confusion veiled my thinking. “SHHHHHH” He said, “Look at the surface of the snow. Keep a soft focus, just relax your eyes. ” I surely was seeing one heck of alot of blanketed snow but nothing too etherial. Then it struck me…all the diamonds glinting in the snow..all the colours of the rainbow in one gazillion little mirrors lying on the surface of that field. It was breathtaking. “Stay with it now “ I heard in my ear. I breathed into the experience, I stopped trying to see with my usual focus. In fact, the moment I stopped trying to focus at all, is when the magic popped in. All of a sudden, I was seeing from behind my eyes, not just in front. I was seeing mystical, magical worlds dancing within each diamond glass mirror, each colour that caught my attention was igniting something inside of me… and then an entire sea of snow diamonds began to lift off the surface and into the air, hoovering above the large white blanket. As the rainbows began to shimmer, I began to ‘feel’ it all. My spirit was moved. “ You can bring the colours into you now, Lassie “ he whispered softly, as if we were on an expedition of great importance. “Don’t lose the moment! “ he continued even more softly. And then, it happened. I was ‘gone’; I was “ moving about” just as he had implied I had been doing minutes earlier during the walk. I was some place else besides this physical world. I stopped being an observer and I became one with the diamonds on the snow which were now floating in the sky just above the surface. I imagined pulling the largest prisms of colour into parts of myself, my body, my third eye, my hands…I was flying now, over the mirrors across the snow and gathering all their energy, the enchantments, the otherworldly magic into myself. Especially places I needed to heal or accelerate my energy. I absorbed them all. I was interconnected. My perception shifted for only a split second but something unexpected happened. I began to see trails of coloured snow diamonds as paths I could follow into the distance with my eyes. Paths that seemed to light up more brightly than the rest of the diamonds on the snow. I instinctively followed one trail of diamond glints and suddenly I sensed it felt wrong to ‘use’ the energies on these paths for my own benefit … so I simply enjoyed their magical movement. Through my inner eye, I began to have visions of being underground, deep in the roots of the trees along the forest line and I saw remarkable beings and worlds of hanging roots. I was in the underworld nestled in the roots of trees, looking up toward a tiny hole like Alice in wonderland, where I could see the snow blanketing the ground. And. I was very very small in that moment.
Suddenly, I felt something pressing on my legs, bringing me back to the ‘here now’. I snapped out of my trance state and heard “ OH, hello ! Beautiful day today, isn’t it ? “ and I realized my shaman friend and some other gentleman were chatting it up while this furry creature with a wagging tail kept knocking into my legs, reminding me it was time to come back to present reality. He nuzzled against me and as I bent down to pet him I looked out over the field once more. The snow looked exactly as it always does. It felt as if someone had simply flipped a switch, bringing me out of a dream, smack into present time. The journey had been short lived; but sweet and memorable. The Shaman man looked at me and asked
“ Did you find any fairy paths ? “
The purpose and meaning :
1.) The shaman had deliberately chosen a path that would invite a change in my body temperature, even sightly. Like a good work out, it also caused me to generate more heated energy. ( friction ). Walking among forest pines allowed any denser heavier energy in my auric field to be energetically cleansed as pine trees provide a strong magnetic pull.
2.) The wind, the cold, the ions in the air, the oxygen, all helped to heighten my senses.
3.) My mind was feeling keenly alert and my stomach was no longer working to digest my last meal. All my physical energy was available to me to direct as I wished. These subtleties can make shamanic journeying more easily obtained, but are not written in stone.
4.) My mind had been focused upon safely getting up and down the hill with the unruly stones and annoying angled cliff and I’d left all the cares of the day and the week behind me. My “chattering mind” was on pause. I had to be fully present in the moment so I would not slip off the rocks. This was another clever and calculated move by the shaman in taking that particular path. By the time the pure snowy landscape came into view, my mind-body-spirit was in a perfect state to have an other - worldly experience. And, I most certainly did.
I will tell you that the extra physical effort paid off. Several days later while I was focused on something unrelated, I had the most incredible vision drop into my mind…it just blew in, as if all those energies I’d gathered into myself from the snow, created a portal for my mind to download insights in that moment. I received a “knowing”, a big awareness about something I’d needed clarity on in my life. And so the walk was a gift that kept on giving.
Often we receive signs, symbols or omens; awarenesses,…several days or even longer, after we take ourselves out in nature. Rest assured your mind, body and spirit will utilize the energy presented to you from nature, from the invisible natural world that is behind the natural physical world. Your body, mind and spirit knows exactly what to do and how to best utilize any energies you find yourself in a dance with. It is my belief that by intending all those colors into myself, it fed my auric field which allowed for the ‘knowing’ to drop in some time later.
To pause my story for a moment, on the way back home, my shamanic friend said “ Whew, Lassie, that was one hec of a steep rock you decided to take us over today ! But I'm glad you chose that route because I got alot of nice things along the way. “ I looked at him a bit incredulously. I didn’t remember having anything to do with choosing to drudge over that uninviting cliff. I didn’t recall being asked which way I wanted to go, either. I didn’t understand his comments nor his references and I quickly barked back that I had nothing to do with any of the decisions we found ourselves experiencing the “cause and effect” of during our walk. He looked into my face and exclaimed, “ Oh?…But didn’t you? “ And so, my first shamanic riddle began.
How a simple walk in snow can become a “Hogwarts” worthy activity with children
( best when the sun or moon is out )
1. Follow any of the key concepts highlighted in the story above. There are many options you can take to create a playful experience with children in the snow, but keep it fun, interactive / action orientated. Young children won’t sit still for too long to ‘snow gaze’ so they need to be encouraged to explore a bit differently…
2. Get kids to bend or crouch down low toward the snowy surface and ask them what they see when they look out from a position lower to the ground, then when standing ? ( A Practice in Noticing. )
3. Begin by having the kids bend down low to the ground and observe the snow once more. They can practice “ lifting “ the colored crystals off the snows surface by engaging their imagination. EX: “ I want you to use your imagination; imagine that all those pretty coloured diamonds are floating just above the snow ! Not on it, but just above it. Let me know when you’ve done that. “
4. Deepen their experience by asking interesting questions which cause their focus to shift around. Example: “ Yes , snow is white, but what about any shady spots on the snow ? Do you see any lighter parts / shadows / darker snow? Can you see any dark colours inside the light colours ? What about the spaces in between the light and dark on the snow, did you notice any ? Can you HEAR snow ? Is it possible to SMELL snow? If the snowflakes had a sound ,what might they sound like ? Etc You can pose interesting fun questions centered around the senses, but they do not necessarily need to make sense. You see, there was a time when humans walked kinaesthetically in the world before the senses became divided into the 5 we know of today. A time when we were one with everything and nothing was separate. A person did not come up over a hill and see a tree in the distance and think to themselves “ OH, there is a tree up ahead” . No, they simply PERCEIVED the tree kinaesthetically on their body. They were still connected as one WITH the tree.
5.) You can set yourself and the children up for an interesting adventure…have the kids pay attention to the shimmery diamonds on the surface of the snow. If it’s a sunny day that is the absolute best because the ‘diamonds ‘ will contain rainbow prisms within them. You can prompt them to look at how many colours are in each piece of glitter, or what colours… get them to use their imagination about what they might do with them if the diamond glitters were used to strengthen their own super-hero powers ? What would they do with a hand full of rainbows that are glittering ? Ask sensory or kinaesthetic questions as well, such as “ Can you FEEL the energy inside of each prism? Can you HEAR the energy ? “ etc again, use phrases and promptings that will help to move their attention around , move their focus around , move their feelings / emotions around, so they become really engaged in the moment. Using their minds they can spin the diamonds in various ways, or practice making them larger and smaller with their imagination.,Or see themselves turning the diamond colours into new shapes ! Have the children share what they are experiencing , seeing, doing …
6.) Help the kids learn more about their own natural imagination. Example: You ask them the question “ If you could tell me one secret ( or word or message) the snow you are holding in your hand knows, what would it be ? Or “ Lets use our magical thoughts to communicate with the magic inside the snow crystals “ …Just notice how the children are dialoging or sharing their information, whether they give auditory responses (hearing) , kinesthetic ( Feeling) , visual ( seeing ) or the just seem to know things without an ability to explain why. ( a psychic sense ) statements such as “ I know there is a whole family of fairies living under the snow “ and you ask the child HOW they might know this and they reply “…I just know they live there “ vs. “ I SEE them under there “ or ” I HEAR them talking under the snow ”, etc . Look and listen for clues. You might expand on this and group some children together with activities based on the opposite role from their natural orientation or mix and match things up. By putting a kinaesthetic child in a group with a visual child it helps to expand their awareness through one another’s perceptions.
Ask them to notice any trails or paths of diamonds that lead somewhere…Play with new concepts. Practice looking, look faster, look slower, look further , look closer… let them share with you what they see…ask if there are any “invisible” things are happening on the trail that can’t be seen? You can play with the concept of posing a question to the elements in nature and watching for a response in some form from nature. (Ex. The wind gusts by or an animal steps into view, etc .) Have the children practice ‘feeling’ the wind on the palms of their hands and ask them what story was in wind or if the wind showed them anything?
7.) Yet again, focus on the colours & sparkles from the snow and have them close their eyes …to practice magical breathing ( they can begin to notice their breath and how it feels , how it moves, fast or slow, deep or shallow etc ) bring their attention inward. When their attention is inward you can make up activities for them to use their imagination to do things with. For example match their breathing to the wind or gather all the energy inside themselves from the rainbow colours on the snow. They can bring it into their third eye or parts of their body they think needs some extra energy, their hands, feet, etc. they can play with spinning those rainbows Into one colour or shape or twirling it into a braid of colours …encourage them in creative ways to have fun and explore playing with intangible energies. They can do ti with eyes closed and eyes open and notice if it feels different. Help the children discover how to see from behind their eyes not just in front. You might ask engaging questions like if they think the sky stops on the surface of the snow? Are those rainbow colours sitting on the snow, part of the sky too ? Maybe the sky continues down into the earth? Use these basic shamanic concepts in nature as exercises to build upon. You’ll share a day of discoveries for yourself too ! Especially seeing magic through the eyes of a child or the child within each of us.
8.) Don’t forget to have Fun ! And please remember …remain playful. How you pose these shamanic types of questions is important. You don’t want to ask things in such a way that a child feels they HAVE to be having an experience. There is just as much benefit in NOT having an immediate experience as one that is immediate. Something may present itself days later in the child's awareness or dreams. Or simple stillness may be the perfect experience. You don't want to be biased in setting up expectations. Say nothing judgemental to a child's testimony of what they see or experience, nothing that criticizes. Keep adult private interpretations and beliefs to a minimum. Keep the open mind and heart of a child yourself.
8.) Wind your walk down by sharing highlights together ( like at a camp fire) of a new discovery or experience the children had on their walk. As a group event you might create one larger story from all the smaller varied experiences the children had. If someone did not have any particular experience to share you can ask them about the “physical world only” which they found themselves in and weave that among the more active experiences. In - between spaces or seemingly non- eventful stories are just as important as more flamboyant experiences. Ask if anything caught their attention and why. You can play with themes that might already be familiar to the kids, such as following fairy trails on top of the snow or making up mythical creatures that no one usually sees just by looking. Remember, in everything we imagine, there is always a thread of truth. Children will come up with lots of characters in stories you’ve never dreamed of !
9.) This activity also works well on a night walk when the moon is shining brightly and the snow contains crystal clear ‘diamonds’ on its surface.
10.) No matter what stage or age, anyone can apply these easy shamanic principles of noticing and playing with energy. Depending on the age of the children or youth, you can also encourage them to practice posing a question or sending some intention out in nature and then waiting for the response to present itself in some form. ( even if this does not occur until sometime afterward ) .
What makes this a ‘shamanic’ experience vs. a usual snow day activity ?
A.) You are identifying that there is a natural invisible world which sits behind the physical natural world… the invisible one you cannot see with human eyes alone and the other one you can. Both exist simultaneously and you are giving them tools to engage in both realms.
B.) You help children to apply their second sight, their inner ‘seeing’ and their imaginations in various ways they may not otherwise use when simply playing in the physical world alone.
C.) You are teaching children to notice ; pay attention in a grounded way; to open their minds that there is a more expansive universe.
D.) You are engaging their perceptions and senses in ways that will encourage their spirits to soar and not limit their thinking.
E.) You are helping them to activate principles of natural magic and natural ancestral roots. You are helping them to trust their senses and what they ‘see’ and experience as valid and credible experiences even if they cannot touch or hold it.
F.) It is always a good practice to log or draw/ write / what is experienced outside of the physical world to bring it into the physical world or look up something and learn about what was observed; so having children draw pictures of what they experienced or something new to them they noticed, can be a beneficial activity once they are back indoors again.
Final note to adults :
As I mentioned a moment ago, a simple shamanic practice while you walk with yourself out in nature , is to pose or intend a question or intention you need assistance with or would like to manifest in your life, out into the universe. By following the practices laid out above, you can pull all the colours or ‘crystal glow’ from the snow diamonds into yourself , your third eye, your body, etc while “ holding space “ for your question or intention. This actually allows otherworldly magic and natural forces to enter your aura - energy field, which in turn petitions a response from the universe. It may not be in that same very second that your ‘answer’, omen or sign will show up, but it might. Or, it might come in on soft wings a week later when you’ve already forgotten about it. When you set an intention into motion into the universe, the universe must respond. It’s a simple but powerful alchemy. And when you bother to take yourself to a place, any place in nature and sacrifice your time and energy in reciprocity, the unseen forces reward you.
It takes a bit of awareness how to discern messages , signs, symbols and omens in nature, from usual everyday activity; how to know when something is answering your call vs. a typical event. But with practice you’ll come to know the different energetic signatures. Perhaps that is for another blog!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little momentary shift in perception and will make up your own fun spins on some of the practices I outlined. There is no shortage of curious children and during our current covid lockdowns in so many parts of the world, a simple enjoyable act such as a shamanic walk in nature, can become a memorable experience for all. Best of all, it’s completely free !
Much love to you. ☀️Sue