We have each experienced trauma in our own lives. Each family has had its share of trauma. Each clan, tribe, village or nation have been the victim of traumatic violence, and at some point in the past we too have inflicted violence. In our common language, this has become WAR. Every tribe, every person, has shamanic and Earth honoring ancestors, and all have warred against other tribes. This is to be human, it seems. In addition, every tribe has experienced horrific terrors as their culture was wiped out, altered or absorbed into an invading group of Others. This is human history.
I am the daughter of a combat veteran in the Vietnam war. You too probably have your family warrior story. How he or she came home different, or didn’t come home. War affects all. It quietly and quickly, like a spirit in the night, seeps into those who participate. And then those warriors bring it home. To spouses, to children. Like a virus, it spreads through the community and leaves the strongest diminished, and those who love, afraid.
I am a shamanic practitioner by vocation. I was called to shamanize at the age of 26. My father died when I was in my 30s. I was able to come to peace with my father while he was still alive. This is a great gift. I owe this directly to my personal shamanic practice, and to receiving the help of a kind healing man (a therapist while I was in my 20s) who let me talk to him when i was in much pain. Using the tools of my shamanic work, I was able to come to terms within myself, about those things i did not get, or got too much of, from my parents as archetypes. Most importantly, I was able to work directly with my father in his last two years so that we could be honest about our pain, and talk as father and daughter. Due to this “coming home” before he died, I was able to write a book after my father died, which I named “Accepting the Ashes- A Daughter’s Look at PTSD”. That name comes from me having the box of ashes, that used to be his body, after he died. It was up to me to decide what to do with them. Writing that little book helped heal me, and my experience with the shamanic world, that the world is alive, and we are a part of it, helped me be able to heal my past, help my father, and my book is now helping other veterans around the country.
So here we all are together, wanting to stop the wars in our world, and also coming to terms that within each of us is trauma yet unwitnessed and forgiven. This is our generational task. To come to terms, to be at peace with our selves, and find a way to deal with our differences other than to wipe each other out and in trying, causing pain for everyone involved.
A couple years ago, I attended a conference hosted by a powerful woman named Deborah, a retired hospice nurse in a VA. She assisted Warriors in their death process, and if they were ready, she helped guide them to healing their past traumas. As I sat for hours listening to stories of pain, and healing rituals, and good deaths, I took notes for my later self. Upon looking at them today, I see messages that can be helpful to all of us who deeply desire to move beyond the traumas that happened in our lives, and those that we inherited. As shamanically inclined folk, we know that we must being brave enough to embrace change, and the greatest change in our whole life is our Death. Yet we do not have to wait for Death to befriend change and be open to healing. As we become brave enough to do just that, we become the spiritual warriors of our people. The healing of one heart can guide a whole world.
Notes from “Hero Within- Peace at Last” with www.deborahgrassman.com
“Sometimes a tear is the story. Stories of pain don’t always have to be in words.”
“At the end of life, Time collapses into the ever-present Now.”
“At the end of life, many feel the unfulfilled longing for the life not lived.”
“Dying people are fertile ground for healing.”
“Healing = Forgiveness”
“Bitterness is a poison for the soul that greatly complicates peaceful dying.”
“It is never too late to heal”
In January of 2016, Deborah’s nonprofit is hosting a training for those who want to help veterans and others with Post Traumatic Stress by offering ceremonial workshops to help them with their Soul Injuries. I felt an enormous YES! about participating. In January I will go to Florida to learn how to blend my worlds. For all of us, it is time to blend the worlds. It is time to acknowledge and tend the injuries to Soul that War causes.
People in all tribes around the planet have always decided to go to War with an Other. What past tribes had, which we have forgotten, is the sacred return of the Warrior after War, so that these Warriors, who are also Men (and now Women), can peaceably come home to the village, and become a citizen again. There have always been practices, rituals and ceremonies performed and practiced by healers, loved ones and sages in a tribe to help the returning Warrior come to terms with what he saw, who’s lives he took, his perceived failings in the face of danger, and how to safely feel again. This is the final stage of service for any soldier/service member/Warrior. Our Warriors are Citizens. We need to remember the ancient shamanic practices of soul retrieval, extraction and ceremony so that we can help bring our Warriors home. It is good for all in all Tribes. This is the vocation of our generation…to remember.
You can find out more about Quynn’s book at www.acceptingtheashes.net