The mind is a multi-faceted, complicated component of being human. There are layer upon layer of depths, some of them conscious, some of them unconscious. So many disciplines, spiritual paths, areas of study and even sectors of modern medicine have been devoted to studying this elusive, mystifying aspect of humanity. Really, our mind and its capacity and capability are all that separates us from other animals.
Every single human being walking this planet experiences emotional and mental patterns that create challenges and even extreme difficulty. Because of our uniqueness as living creatures, what is considered challenging for one person may be different for another, so everything is absolutely relative. Really understanding this truth could save so many from incredible strife.
In indigenous societies of both present and past, difficulties of the mind are far less prominent than they are in modern cultures. Contemporary life has become incredibly complicated and to add to the challenges we face, our progressive minds tend to dissect and over analyze our mental and emotional patterns to the point of exhaustion. But it is not just the evolution of the modern human that has created deeper emotional and mental conflict; it is also the lack of community, ritual and sacred ceremony that play a huge role the demise of the modern mind.
In Shamanism, there is an extraordinarily powerful healing method called Recapitulation which is a process of ceremonially releasing issues and obstacles in your life that you are ready to let go of in order to move forward and create anew. From a Shamanic perspective, when traumatic events occur in our life, we often give our power away along with essential life force energy. In psychology this is referred to as disassociation. If we never find a way to clean up, heal and call back the energy, an energy proxy of sorts takes the place and continues to guide the course of our lives, being triggered by any number of things. When triggered, we effectively operate emotionally and spiritually at the age of the event where we gave our power away.
The recapitulation process begins by taking some time, perhaps a few days, maybe weeks, to write your story. Thoroughly write out your life story, focusing on areas where you gave your power away. Start at your very first memory and include as many details as possible. This helps you get in touch with sometimes buried feelings, memories and the associated energy around issues or aspects of your life that you are looking to release and change. Make sure you write it all out on paper that can be burned.
Once you have completed your story, you will chose a date and time to ceremonially burn your story, with the intent of transmuting the energy around any occurrences in which you gave your power away. Obviously the point of a recapitulation is not to “undo” the event, but rather to integrate the experience and call back the energy that has remained stuck in time.
In a recapitulation, the idea is to eliminate unhealthy aspects of our life rather than “fix” them through analysis. While understanding the “whys” can help illuminate our mind, it does not return the energy tied up in the patterns we desire to change. We might tell ourselves, “oh I know why, now I’ll stop.” We may even watch ourselves closely to make sure the behavior has stopped. All the while the patterns continue under a different guise. In other words, knowing why a pattern is occurring in your life is a step, but without reclaiming the energy, real empowerment can be difficult to achieve. The substitute energy that has been filling the void of the energy released at the time of the trauma continues to perpetuate pain similarly to the way an amputee will feel pain in a leg that no longer exists.
Although a solo recapitulation is enormously effective, a group ceremony is exponentially more powerful. When we connect and heal as a community we are multiplying the healing capacity of the energy present. It also ads to the power of the event when participants are willing to share something about what they are recapitulating. This can be difficult for some people who are accustomed to carrying around trauma and uncomfortable with sharing their pain. And this is exactly why community is such an essential component to a healed society – no one should carry the burden of pain alone. In a sacred space filled with loving hearts that would never repeat what heard, people are able to exhale the stifled ache of hiding.
When you go through the process of writing your story, you will want to practice the art of detachment so as to avoid going full into the emotion of power-releasing events. Detachment isn’t necessarily standing back as a 3rd party observer, but rather an act of disconnecting from the emotion and not allowing emotion to control the situation essentially causing you to relive any given moment in time.
Always begin a recapitulation with ritual prayers. Whatever fits with your spiritual beliefs is fine. I like to open a vortex and invoke the four directions, elements, power animals, ancestors, sky father and earth mother. I offer sage and use a few additional ceremonial processes that have been shared with me by my teachers. And I always close with gratitude.
This Friday is the Summer Solstice and a perfect time for a recapitulation. I will be holding a Fire Ceremony for women at my home in Southern California, which will include a recapitulation. If you are unable to join us, you can still hold your own ceremony and link up with us energetically (men included). Ritual healing transcends time and space and connects with the sheer power of intent.
I look forward to connecting with the brilliance of your spirit!
In Rhythm & Harmony,