'.... In Tibet and Mongolia the ancient teachings go a little bit like this: We are born with a package of windhorse energy that is our measure of spiritual power and life force. It is - if you like - a sort of cosmic energy, our soul-force perhaps, a subtle energy which fills us with radiant life.
Not everyone is born with the same amount of windhorse, some are born with very little and others are born with large amounts, and it is not a fixed amount either, we can lose it during the course of our life, or we can gain it.
We are born with the amount we have, because of how we lived in our past lives, how much windhorse we had when we died, in effect - unlike money in the bank, windhorse accounts are said to cross the life and death barrier and we carry forward our balance - or overdraft - to the next life.
Someone with a small package of windhorse will, in all likelihood, be born into a situation of windhorse poverty in their new life, a life situation where they may suffer with ‘bad luck.’ Luck is often associated with windhorse.
This isn’t the Universe being mean to someone, it’s not keeping the ‘have-nots’ down and pushing the ‘haves’ upwards. The level of windhorse we have is directly resultant upon our karma and our level of awareness.
Being born into windhorse poverty will mean being born into an unlucky family, one where physical poverty, disease, abuse, violence, poor housing, overcrowding, stress and other social ills are the norm.
Being born into that sort of environment will make it difficult for a child to accumulate windhorse as they grow up, because they will be ‘programmed’ by their environment to see the world through windhorse impoverished eyes, and that will shape the life choices they make, shape their attitudes to life, and many other factors as well, all of which will affect their accumulation of windhorse.
Acquiring windhorse as we move through life is a little like the game of Snakes and Ladders. We go from the first square to the last square, sometimes going up a ladder, and sometimes slipping backwards down a snake, but always moving. The final square can perhaps be thought of as enlightenment, the highest spiritual understanding about the true nature of reality, and to reach that square requires a lot of windhorse.
But windhorse cannot be bought, we cannot buy our way from the first square to the last, it has to be earned - or developed - and as we develop it, we develop awareness about the nature of windhorse and the Universe; and that growing awareness gives us more windhorse power in return, which takes us to the next step, the next square.
The more we develop as truly spiritual beings - and become aware of windhorse - the more we learn to cultivate it, and so the more we become aware and progress towards square 100. This is a gradual journey, said to be made over many lifetimes....'
'..... His grandfather was a traditional Malay medicine man, an animistic shaman-like priest.
He came to me because he knew he was being pulled by the spirit of his grandfather, but his family had converted to Islam, and so working as a shaman was haram - forbidden.
His family was in turmoil, various inexplicable things had happened, people had become ill and there was a plague of bad dreams in the family. I told him that I would be happy to see what was happening and what I could do.
My spirits told me to wear ‘full kit,’ in other words go protected and prepared for trouble. I have various levels of ritual clothing - shaman’s armour - and I wear less, or more, depending on the nature of the work.
This was to be a full-armour show, and included my orgay, a traditional metal antler crown, made for me by a Mongolian shaman-blacksmith. I remember that as I put all my armour on, the spirits came for me very powerfully.
I was shown a circle with many spirits in it, who I thought were Panjang’s ancestors, and told them I was here representing Panjang. As I did so, one of the spirits came forward and I knew it was his grandfather’s spirit.
He was a powerful presence who demanded that respect be shown, and I realised that was why my spirits had told me to go in full armour. I bowed to this spirit and explained that Panjang sent his salutations, but was unable to become a shaman because it was forbidden now that the family were Muslims.
I asked what could be done to free Panjang from his ancestral commitments, and told the grandfather that times had changed now and it was no longer how it used to be. The grandfather seemed to understand, but I also saw that he was caught by all the older ancestors - the people who had come before him - who were putting pressure on him in their turn. The family shaman spirit power was very strong, and I was told that it did have to continue.
I was shown that Panjang had, or would have a small nephew - a boy born to the wife of one of his brothers. This had either just happened, or would soon happen - I could not tell. I was told that this child was chosen, and the shaman ancestor spirits would go to him, but the spirits accepted that the line could miss this current generation, so Panjang could avoid his destiny, but it had to go onto the next generation instead, and there was no get out regarding that.
I was shown this baby’s spirit, which had a red cord tied around his ankle. I was not sure if this cord was for protection in some way, or for a blessing.
Then my spirits told me to blow on the feet of the baby - which I did - knowing that my breath carried a blessing, and that it would also open the road to the spirits in some way, so that a connection could be strongly made between the ancestors and the child. By this connection, the families shamanic work could be continued. This was an ancient thing, it had to be done, it was very old magic, the spirits had to follow on through the generations, and if it was not to be this generation, it had to be next.
Then I asked the ancestors what was needed now for reciprocity, and I was told it had to be a ritual meal prepared in their honour by Panjang, with all the traditional offerings of food, done in the traditional way, for the ancestors.
This meal, I understood was to include the killing of a pig, which is a traditional component of Malay ritual meals. Of course, that too was haram, because of the Muslim ban on eating pork, but that was not my problem, the ancestors had their demands, and that was the price to pay if Panjang wanted to be let off his ancestral obligations.
Then the work was done. But my spirits told me I had to seal the spirit road to those shaman ancestors - I had to cut the threads to the trail I had left - so they could not follow me back, because they were dangerous to me....'
'.... Land spirits in Tibetan are called sa-bdag, while in Mongolian they are known as savdag. The similarity of the Tibetan and Mongolian words is due to the influence of Buddhism in Mongolia, but Mongolians had the same concept before Buddhism came to the country.
The word sa-bdag literally means ‘Earth Owner,’ but in English, generally the name ‘Earth-lord’ is used for them. Each sa-bdag can be thought of as a sort of medieval baron, who holds sway over a certain territory.
They are often associated with mountains, a little like Apus are in the Andean sacred traditions from South America; and both Tibet and Mongolia have a long tradition of sacred mountains whose spirits are important to shamans.
A lot of the spirits that Tibetan lhapa - shamans - work with, are thought of as either living in mountains, or being mountain spirits. In addition to sa-bdag, in Tibet people also referred to chu-bdag, who are water owners and shing-bdag who are wood owners.
Sa-bdag are considered to be fairly neutral towards humans on the whole, but do get very angry when the ground is disturbed by digging. In Tibet it has always been traditional not to dig into the earth much at all, and in Mongolia this was the same. Now, with modern building construction, and especially mining, many shamans say the sa-bdag are angry and need to be pacified.
It used to be that before anything was built, shamans or lama-geomancers would be consulted, and special offerings to the sa-bdag made.
Recently a Tibetan Buddhist centre was established not very far from where I live, and ceremonies were performed there to pacify the local sa-bdags so they would be happy and not be disrupted. In Tibet and Mongolia, ceremonies are still performed for them before a major development is started, but these happen far less than they did, and the developments are far bigger now than they were historically.
The prohibition against digging the land used to be held so tightly in Mongolia and Tibet, that any type of digging, even hammering a wooden stake in the ground in order to tie up a horse, required offerings and apologies being given to the Earth Lords.
When a sa-bdag is angry, they cause disturbances in the land they are in control of. These disturbances include drought, floods and other extreme weather conditions, famines and outbreaks of epidemic diseases, both among people and livestock; in fact, all the things we are seeing now throughout the world.
There are many ways to pacify sa-bdags. In Mongolia ovoo - the shrines found out on the steppes, and often in mountain passes - are created, so that people passing by them can make offerings at them.
In Tibet, similar traditions exist, and also special jars full of sacred materials are buried. These are often known as ‘earth treasure vases,’ and they contain specially empowered substances designed to pacify the sa-bdag. Because of the influence of Buddhism within Mongolia, these ‘earth treasure vases’ are also buried there too - along with other things such as blocks of dried tea - as offerings under an ovoo, when it is being built.
Respecting the earth is the number one rule of shamanism. This isn’t because respecting the earth is a good idea, or a PC thing to do, it is because shamans know that if the earth spirits are disturbed and disrespected, there will be hell to pay, so they know to walk softly, in case they mess up and get a good kicking for their mistake. ....'
'... To finish, I will share the story of a student of mine who asked me to do work for her, as she had terminal cancer. She wanted to prepare for a good death, which she truly had, and so I asked the spirits what was needed.
They told me to gather all her soul parts into a mirror, because she had been an intrepid warrior all her life, a well-known and successful artist, who had travelled the world and who had left many parts of herself all over the place. Because of her love for the world, she had given away parts of her joy and her heart in the most delicious way.
But for her to die with ease, all those parts needed to be lovingly gathered up and returned to her. So, my spirits told me to get a mirror for her. I remember it was a very old one, centuries old, which was the right one for her, and I was to do a ceremony for her, calling upon all my spirit helpers to gather all of her soul parts, from all over the world and bring them to the mirror.
I did the ceremony, and as she was so loved there were hundreds of spirits that came, all full of love for her, while I sat in tears, as each one came and placed a precious spark of her into the mirror, which had been prepared beforehand of course.
When the ceremony was over, I gave her the mirror, and she wore it for the last few months of her life on a cord around her neck, the soul parts it contained spreading into her, coming home.
She died a wonderful death and afterwards the mirror was passed to her relative, as her relative is a shaman
Like I said, these things happen. The shaman’s road is one of beauty and mystery, sometimes a beauty so deep that we can do nothing except let the tears fall down.
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