• Dr. Jill Bakke

Slaying the Dragons

Back in the 1990s a shaman journeyed for me. In her journey she saw me as a slatternly flower seller, holding beautiful blooms no one wanted. I was told I needed to clean myself up; then there would be many seeking my flowers. Not only was I not authentic, I was a mess!

I recall not knowing where to start, but I found the Universe knew where I could begin. It still remains like that even today. I feel sometimes as though I am in a small boat adrift in the fog, dependent on the Universe to give me input and direction. In fact, that was the image I was given when I took my first healing journey in an introduction to shamanism class.

For a long time I couldn’t tie together the information the Universe and my awareness offered me, but eventually I discovered that my job in part focused on awareness of what I was doing and feeling. Then, perhaps a dozen years later, I distilled some of the knowledge gained into a book, THE MAGIC THEATER: Your Personal Journal. However, it took me a great deal more time, awareness and learning before I completed the book and published it.

At the time I embarked on change, I had no idea it would be a never ending process. Joseph Campbell calls it a “Hero’s Journey.” While stopping at an oasis which appears on the journey is perfectly permissible, I found it impossible to turn back. Each dragon I slew led to more happiness and contentment.

Yes, I said “dragon.” Some dragons bear the label “Fear.” Another one goes by the name of “Duty.” Old programing from family, society and my religious upbringing reared its dragon head. Each had to be examined to see if it served me today. Unforgiveness, anger, addictions of any kind from drugs to workaholism are also dragons. Fortunately, Campbell gave us a road map for our journey in his instruction to “Follow your bliss.” This helped me to identify many of my dragons. Bliss comes from our heart and soul. If I am not following my bliss, I am definitely involved with a dragon.

What dragons live with you? Some of mine lay on the surface and some buried themselves deep into my psyche and took a long time to uncover. I didn’t want to be different. I wanted the proverbial Knight on a white horse to come and rescue me. I thought life without drama would be boring. How wrong my feelings about all of them and others were.

Sometimes I carried obligations that my heart said I must attend to and my body and mind said “it is so difficult.” How can such a dragon be tamed? I found myself asking if I could grow from the experience, what could I do to make the task easier, and the answers I sought came. The dragon didn’t have to be slayed, I could simply tame it. And I began to learn the art of taming dragons: Finding the deep place inside of me where I could ask the simple but profound questions and by listening to acquire their answers. I had to learn to determine and acknowledge what things required my actions and what to leave alone. In the process I discovered gratitude and compassion, two of life’s most powerful gifts.

If I didn’t slay the dragon the first time we met, I found it kept reappearing until I mastered it. If it was one I tamed, I still had to negotiate its territory with care. I found my journey went further into the land of the shaman, oneness with all including God and the Father within. I am still learning, changing, growing. Such traveling has delivered its promise. Being authentic and seeking the Father within is the best gift you can give yourself and the world. We are all on this journey called life anyway; why not make it the best it can be?

If for any reason the use of my term “land of the shaman” bothers you and you are not ready to step into anything spiritual or religious, consider beginning with humanistic psychology. Psychologist Carl Rogers who refers to becoming fully-functioning and says that such process requires courage. It does exactly that because it requires a person to be honest with his self and change is involved. Most humans don’t like change, especially when the extent of change is unknown.

Rogers fully functioning person, Abraham Maslow’s self-actualized individual, and the Campbell’s Hero’s Journey each consist of similar of characteristics: self-acceptance of both an individual’s strengths and weakness, honesty, compassion, love of beauty, commitment to the larger society (not only self), spontaneity, need for solitude, sense of humor, and compassion, among other traits. The traits pretty much boil down to love, love of self, love of others, love of the environment and exhibiting that love in action.

There are many different paths to the same end. If your path has love it will bring you peace, trust and joy. Enjoy the dragon slaying, live in the now – the past is gone, the future not yet formed. I wish you each a good journey. Maybe we will meet some place along the trails.

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