Ravens are Silver

Shamanic practice is central to my recovery from the psychological wounds of war.

In the past meditation was difficult. My quiet mind was soon filled with memories of combat. They shamanic practice of watching animals without judgment or expectation trained me to observe myself in the same way. That was a key to avoid being re-traumatized by the full context recall used in cognitive behavioral therapy. The Animal Practice I have done over the years opened me up to the source of true healing. My connection to the world of spirit began about eight years ago.

I went out to my garden and saw a Raven sitting in the top of a bear pinion pine. A second Raven landed in a nearby shaggy cedar. The second Raven watched the first. The first watched the sky. Raven number one would make an occasional comment “Grok-croool”. That first Raven kept looking west, just above the red rock bluffs.

I couldn’t see anything but blue sky. I don’t know what that Raven was expecting. After a while it made a final comment,  “Gra-a-a-ak”, and flew East, apparently satisfied it saw all there was to see at this particular place and time. The other Raven shrugged its wings and followed. In the air, it looked twice as big. I went back inside knowing Ravens can see things I can’t.

The next morning a Golden Eagle  flew low over the hill that separates my back door from Oak Creek. A raven swooped in – not playing. The Eagle evaded and reached for more sky. The raven’s harassing seemed chaotic at first but then I saw the raven was not random. It moved the eagle further and further from the earth and away from the hill where the ravens liked to sit and watch.
The eagle was transported from the realm of the raven. The noble and heroic eagle gracefully obeyed the laws of magic Ravens know so well. The raven made a swooping turn back towards me. Its body glinted silver in the morning sun. I realized ravens aren’t really black.

Another certainty blossomed. All my reaching and wanting, all my noble and heroic deeds, my therapy and thrashing and medication will not relieve the torment born of trauma.  For that I must remember – Ravens are Silver and Eagles respect their will.

Mania and the Muse

Bipolar disorder defined my life as much as a wheelchair.

Seven million Americans suffer from bipolar disorder, a.k.a. manic depression. An estimated three million cases are severe. In severe cases bipolar disorder can fragment one’s life and destroy any hope of doing useful work or having a meaningful relationship.

Prescription drugs did help, but left me afflicted with a feeling there was something wrong with me, like my mind had been hijacked. The writing program I completed revealed a unique benefit of being bipolar. It was a practical tool that  brought understanding, acceptance and finally a published novel. A partial list of bipolar authors and creative individuals includes: Ted Turner, Virginia Woolf, Ludwig van Beethoven, Winston Churchill, Jimmy Piersall and Ernest Hemingway.

My author’s journey was filled with practical examples of how a disciplined approach to writing can change some of the curses of being bipolar into blessings. Writing and symptoms combined for positive results. Those positives were a less manic means of communication, a much-needed routine, a sense of purpose and creative release.

The writing program I followed included a daily word count, techniques to focus the mind and methods of emotional release. Those components fostered mental discipline and emotional stamina. The simple act of daily writing brought continuity and a sense of purpose to my life. A life troubled by this misunderstood disorder. The beliefs I expressed and emotions experienced captured the elusive core of my  bipolar existence revealing a hidden pattern in a manic world.

Mania, when suppressed, is a denial of self. When unleashed it is a powerhouse of creation.