How Shamans Dream the World Into Being
I have read a few books by Alberto Villoldo, my favourite and the best to begin with if new to his work is The Four Insights: Wisdom, Power, and Grace of the Earthkeepers.
It introduces the philosophical, spiritual and medicinal wisdom of the medicine men and women of the Americas, the concepts of serpent, jaguar, hummingbird and eagle consciousness and thinking, and is helpful in understanding the further learning his wisdom offers.
The Earthkeepers believe the world is real, but only because we’ve dreamed it into being. But dreaming requires an act of courage, for when we lack it, we have to settle for the world that’s being created by our culture or by our genes – we feel we have to settle for the nightmare. To dream courageously, we must be willing to use our hearts.
I’d had this book a while by my bedside and immediately turned to it to become my daily morning read at the beginning of this period of confinement we are currently in and what a Godsend. I loved it and wish it had been twice as long. I read a chapter a day and would recommend it as the equivalent to doing half an hour of meditation, the effect for me was very similar.
Not only is it filled with resonating wisdom, each chapter begins with the words of another great teacher, a collection of inspiring quotes that I’ve been playing with by putting images to them from my daily walk, to create a kind of story. Infinite possibilities as Alberto and Albert would no doubt agree.
Logic will get you from A to B.
Imagination will take you everywhere. Albert Einstein
Alberto Villoldo is a psychologist, medical anthropologist and renowned shamanic healer, who has studied the ancient spiritual practices of the Amazon and the Andes and now runs The Four Winds Society, an education facility for practitioners of shamanic healing and energy medicine and courses for individuals interested in cellular detoxification to grow a new body.
Once familiar with the four levels of perceiving reality, this book beautifully expands the concept further into ways of dreaming, levels of consciousness, of courage and of beauty or appreciation.
“It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare”. Mark Twain
It shows us how we are all living within our own stories, that they can either stay stuck in the past and put on repeat, or we can rewrite them and courageously imagine or dream a better version of ourselves and of our future.
Our situation may be a difficult one, but it’s only a nightmare if we choose to make that our reality. By taking the facts and writing a new story with them, we can script a different experience of reality.
To help illustrate courage at the level of eagle consciousness – the highest level of perception, where we’re able to see the big picture and the details all at the same time, where we are aware of that we are part of the all-seeing and all-knowing divine force of the universe, conceiving a world where we are in harmony and our lives are fulfilling, abundant and sustainable – Alberto uses the example of Prometheus’s Gift.
Prometheus was the Greek God of inspiration, craft and creativity, who held great sympathy for humans because he’d co-created them with Zeus. He saw them freezing and wanted to gift them fire for warmth, security and to alleviate hunger. Symbolically fire represents creativity and inspiration, it transforms and illuminates. He stole fire and gave it to humans, angering the Gods, who punished him for it.
Prometheus brought humanity another great gift – the courage to defy the gods, the ability to think original thoughts and to create – and this brash act was what really caused him to be so severely punished…But this act of defiance launched humans into our true journey, forcing us to mature and develop discernment.
He reminds us of the power of creativity and warns of the threats against it, citing many examples of genius that are now revered, who were shunned in their moment of innovation and inspiration such as Einstein and Van Gogh.
Being creative requires letting go of that big bucket of cold water you throw on yourself and your ideas when things start to become really interesting. You need to stop asking yourself , ‘Will anyone be offended?’ and ‘Who am I to ask questions?’ and instead inquire ‘What if?’
Holding on to old stories creates imprints in our energetic body or LEF (luminous energy field) even after the facts and circumstances change, those resentments and bad feelings create energetic cords that tie us to the players in the drama, which is why we then get triggered so easily and again when we observe those patterns in others.
We don’t see things as they are;
We see them as we are. Anaïs Nin
Symbols & Metaphors
Alberto Villoldo uses illuminating metaphors to help us see our situations from a different perspective and provides suggestions for how to change. Understanding our own tendencies is the first step, rewriting a better narrative of our lives follows. Learning to sever unwelcome ties and clear karmic baggage, all the better.
Seeing our lives as river with an accumulation of silt and imagining clearing it is liberating; decoding the symbols and metaphors of our dreams, where our subconscious solutions lie, tips us off to what our conscious mind resists recognising and provides us possible resolution.
We fight the current, yet we never clean the river.
Especially now, we are all being forced to confront what lies within us, the build up of silt that requires clearing, so the crystalline waters of our lives can flow more easily.
When you start pouring beauty into your river, you’ll find that the waters are becoming clearer every day. To practice beauty, you must give up the ugly stories in which someone is a victim and someone else is the perpetrator. Practicing beauty means recognising what is pure and of value in every situation and in every person.
We are not in control of where the river flows, only of how clean we keep its waters.
I may go back to chapter one and read it again, to allow the wisdom to sink in deeper and help the river to continue to flow clean.
“Curing is the elimination of symptoms. Healing is a journey on which you discover the cause of your ailment and make fundamental life changes from diet to belief systems that will create health.”
Interview with Alberto Villoldo: Gaia.com
The Four Insights: Wisdom, Power, and Grace of the Earthkeepers
The Heart of the Shaman: Stories and Practices of the Luminous Warrior
One Spirit Medicine: Ancient Ways to Ultimate Wellness (not reviewed)