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Moved by Spiritual Callings

Have you ever had a spiritual calling? Have you ever wondered what life would be like to follow these inner callings? Where would it take you? What would you become?

It wasn’t until I moved from my life-long home of Northern California that I can say that, yes, I know what it is like to walk away from EVERYTHING- stuff, family, friends, familiarity and comfort to follow a higher calling. Stephen and I moved to Western Washington merely based on intuition and a spiritual whim. From here, amazing worlds were explored and an unexpected journey was launched.

We were living in Santa Rosa, CA, in Sonoma County. We had taken a road trip out to Northern Arizona, thinking this area may be a good place to relocate. Immediately upon arriving, I had an adverse reaction to the area, in fact I felt energetically repelled by it. We spent a day in Prescott, a day in Sedona and then drove up to the Grand Canyon (…which I loved. More on the magic of the Grand Canyon in future posts). I loved seeing all these areas. I was intrigued. I was enchanted. And, I fell in love with the strong Native American spirit, but I was not called to stay and live.

One morning, Stephen and I were having breakfast together in a small town just outside of Sedona called Cottonwood. It was here I asked Stephen for one of his famous psychic readings. (I was too emotionally attached to the outcome to read for myself.) I asked him to give me a reading about what the best living environment would be for me at the time. I still have this reading, which I jotted down on a napkin.

He said I would be surrounded by trees, water and lush, rich earth that would grow anything. There would be vegetable gardens and fruit trees, wild life and open wilderness. It was during this reading over breakfast in a small desert town that Stephen and I decided to move to Bellingham, WA, sight unseen.

Bellingham, WA

Bellingham, WA

This was a rash decision based solely on intuition, prompted by a simple and playful reading, but everything about this decision felt right. It was a tremendous spiritual calling, though I didn’t realize it at the time.

By the very next month, our belongings were packed and we were driving into Bellingham, WA, which is located just a half hour south of the Canadian border and British Columbia.

Ever wonder if you are headed in the right direction? Doors will open. These doors didn’t just open for us there, they swung WIDE open.

When we entered Bellingham, we had one week to find a home. It was the very second placed we viewed to rent that we found one of the most beautiful homes I had ever lived in. We rented it on the spot.

Our home in Bellingham, WA

Our home in Bellingham, WA

This was our home- a gorgeous old, single family, Victorian house that had been converted into 5 charming apartments. It had a vegetable garden and incredible bayside, sunset views. We rented the largest of the apartments on the main floor, which allotted me my own healing space for my Reiki practice and a private meditation room. This home called us to it for many reasons. We were supposed to live here.

The backyard bayside vegetable garden

The backyard bayside vegetable garden

 

Sunset view from our living room

Sunset view from our living room

It was here that more magic came into my life than I could possibly explain. It was here I experienced so many spiritual shifts and growths, darkness yet brilliance, and dove into higher realms, experiencing firsthand the world of the elementals. Yes, we had resident Beings, nature spirits, who shared space with us in the garden and in our home. I could see them, and they did all kinds of tricky and fun things around the house. (More on this in future blog posts and articles) Stephen and I taught Reiki classes together, and I gave energy healings out of this home. We only lived here for a year and a half, but the mind-bending things that occurred and the spiritual leaps were life changing to say the least.

Being energy workers, both Stephen and I are intensely aware of subtle energies. The energy of the house, of the city of Bellingham, and of our neighbors shifted. The time to leave was near. We felt it. This was a gentle shift, but the universe was easing us into other opportunities. When the day came that our landlord informed me that he wanted to move his family into our space, I was already expecting this change. And, I was grateful for it.

At the time, we considered moving to Arizona. After a year and a half of darkness, I ached for sunnier landscapes. We also considered moving back to California, but I intuitively knew it was not yet time to return, though I was homesick. Instead, we decided to move an hour and a half south to Seattle. I had friends, raw potlucks, raw vegan restaurants a-plenty, and lots of things to do there. I missed being in a bigger, more metropolitan and cultural city that offered a plethora of activities to choose from.

We left magical Bellingham and our quiet yet grand South Hill neighborhood. We left the bay and the wild, green gardens, the spectacular sunsets and moved to the city. I had never lived directly in a city, and I wanted the full big city experience. (Be careful what you ask for!)

We moved to Lower Queen Anne just 2 blocks away from the Seattle Space Needle, smack dab in the heart of the city. Our apartment was built at the turn of the century. It was an old brick, four story building. It had no elevator but it did have a couple of resident ghosts, one of which lived in our unit. We were, of course, on the top floor and the laundry room was, of course, in the basement. Parking was a space we rented a block away. Needless to say, there was a lot of schlepping going on, schlepping laundry and groceries up and down streets and endless flights of stairs. This was quintessential city living.

Metallic Seattle Space Needle and City Center

Metallic Seattle Space Needle and City Center

The romance of this lifestyle withered away very quickly for me. I didn’t mind the physical requirements of it, but I did mind the grey. Seattle is a grey place with eight months of rainfall. Our apartment faced east, so gone were our glorious sunsets and the glowing, crimson sweetness that cracked the cloudy horizon at the end of each day. My world in the city became drab. The surrounding buildings, asphalt, skies, and concrete- everything around me was one note. I desperately missed living in the forest and among my faery-luscious, GREEN trees. There were wonderful mossy, forested parks in Seattle, which I loved to hike and meditate in, but my actual city living environment and view… as my crime-writing sister would call it… it was all gun-metal grey.

Six months into our city living, we had the opportunity to shorten our lease, which gave me a new lease on life and new possibilities.

I would like to add that Seattle is a very magical place, and I do not wish to down-play this. I did have some very amazing experiences there. I still love to visit and a part of my heart and spirit will always be in Western Washington along with some family and many great friends. But, one lesson I definitely learned during my time there is that I need to live in more natural, wild settings. I thrive in nature!

One of my favorite places to visit, the Faery Bridge of Carkeek Park in Seattle

One of my favorite places to visit, the Faery Bridge of Carkeek Park in Seattle

It was time to move. In retrospect, I feel we placed ourselves in this environment, all of it from the city to the old apartment, so we would be more inclined to leave Washington. You see, I was in love with the magic of the forests, the waters and the islands around this area. However, I had spiritually learned what I needed and it was time to go. If my living environment wasn’t a struggle, it would have been easy to remain complacent and stay longer than I should have. This was an important lesson. It was a lesson about seeing the gifts in the challenges, about non-attachment, about letting go, about embracing forward movement and about taking giant leaps of faith.

Signs are everywhere. Subtle energies are always at work around you. The question is, do you stop to listen? Do you scream out, “Why Me?” in the face of hardship or do you take a look at the bigger perspective, the bigger picture? We are each exactly where we need to be. If you are in an undesirable place, your pain and discomfort are signs to reevaluate life direction and will influence change, especially if you have the gumption to listen and to follow your heart, your gut and the messages around you.

It was time to go. To where, we did not exactly know. California? Arizona?

One morning, the energy to move and shift was strong. It was palpable. I pulled out one of my decks of Tarot called Earth Magic Oracle Cards. I love these cards partly because my Reiki practice is called Earth Spirit but also because I have an innate and very spiritual connection to earth. Earth is magical in every way. So there I was with my Earth Magic Oracle deck. With the question in mind, “Where do we move next?” I meditated, I sent Reiki to the situation, and then I pulled one card…

From the Earth Magic Oracle Deck

From the Earth Magic Oracle Deck

Um, Universe, could you please be more specific, gee-wilikers!

It was decided that morning that we were going to Arizona. Upon making this decision, I remember looking out the window and saw 12 crows perched on a bare-branched, winter tree. Being that Crow is my main Animal Spirit Totem, this very much felt like an acknowledgement and blessing of our new direction. 12 is also the number of perfect, harmonious completion.

A tree of crows

A tree of crows

We were lucky enough to have an opportunity open for us to stay in Prescott, AZ, for 2 months. Another sign we were on the right path, everything immediately opened right up for us. Within one day, we not only decided to leave Washington but we secured our next location out of state and gave our landlord notice. The day started with an oracle card reading and ended with plans to start packing.

Both Stephen and I work from home with his life coaching practice and my distance healing work, so we can be very mobile and live anywhere. We started to pack, but the month it took us to organize the move was a very topsy-turvy time. Despite the oracle card reading, I decided that I wanted to move to California. I went as far as to tell all my friends and family I was returning. I researched storage units and ordered the moving truck. The plan was to drive to California, place all our things in storage, then drive on to Arizona to stay in the home that was available for 2 months. We would have our vision quests and anything else that may open for us. After the 2 months, we would then return to California to live. This was the plan… or so I thought.

There’s a little saying that goes something like this: There are plans, but then there is life. And my life path had another direction and purpose.

While packing our apartment, I was in the bathroom. The overhead cupboard door was open. I was bent down, filling boxes. Can you guess what happened? I swung my head up as I stood and cracked my forehead on the corner of the solid wood cupboard door. This was a severe injury that left an indent on my forehead as a purple lump immediately formed. I had a concussion.

Head injuries are interesting things both physically and spiritually. The concussion affected my eyesight, my ability to focus and my ability to continue packing. I sat down for several days to rest, forcing me to pause and evaluate our movements.

I take nothing for granite. I know injuries and sicknesses are significant signs, often depicting that one is moving in the wrong direction. It was during this introspective time, sitting in a torn-apart apartment, surrounded by boxes and chaos that Stephen and I decided to take a leap of faith, cancel our California storage, redirect the moving truck destination, and move directly to Arizona instead of California. This was the correct and intended path. Both Stephen and I collectively felt a very strong calling. We were each spiritually drawn to Arizona for more than just a 2 month stay.

We originally thought we would move to Sedona, especially with the spiritual, metaphysical and healing work that we do. With this in mind, we stored our things in that little town just outside of Sedona, Cottonwood (and so we came full circle, returning to Cottonwood). We stayed in Prescott for those 2 months, allowing us to catch our breath after the move and to enjoy our new surroundings.

Eagle Blessings over Lake Watson in Prescott, AZ

Eagle Blessings over Lake Watson in Prescott, AZ

It was here that I read, meditated, hiked, photographed, sun-soaked and visited Sedona. The distance from Prescott to Sedona is similar to the distance from where I lived in Sonoma County, CA, to San Francisco. It is a little over an hour away. This is an easy drive from one magical place to another. I love Sedona like no other place, but a very surprising thing happened; I fell in love with Prescott. So, we stayed and found a permanent home for ourselves.

We are here now in Prescott. There is so much I could share about the powerful lands around us and our time here, but I’ll save this all for future blog posts. Just know the magic and spiritual nudges continue… in my life and with my healing practice.

Timing really is everything. Years ago when we first visited Prescott to consider living, we were energetically pushed away. The timing wasn’t then right. We needed to be in Western Washington, both of us, for the time that we were. And, we left Washington at the absolute perfect time. Stephen accomplished exactly what he needed to, and I experienced one of the most cathartic spiritual experiences of my life while there. It was like a spiritual schooling of sorts. It was something that couldn’t have taken place in any other location. I needed the separation, the darkness, the rain, the forests and the magic to support my spiritual shift and growth. Plus, life-long friendships were found.

Thank you Western Washington for your darkness, beauty and woodland magic. Thank you Stephen for your flexibility, spontaneity, out-of-the-box thinking, your gypsy spirit and for your unyielding, compassionate support. And, thank you Northern Arizona for being exactly where I am supposed to be right now.

Shana in Sedona, AZ

Shana in Sedona, AZ

My Wheel of Fortune

The Tarot snuck its way into my life several decades ago. It teased my fascination, luring me from mainstream thought, until it enveloped me in a greater respect for the unseen. How could simple cards make any plausible predictions? Shouldn’t this type of divination be left for the gypsies and fortunetellers whose slight-of-hand professes great tales? I had my doubts, for I was settled firmly in structured belief, cemented by logic and a tangible proof-driven society.

However, those silly cards, they tempted my imagination, feeding my belief, expanding possibilities. It seemed every time I would pick up a card, it would perfectly fit a situation, express a feeling or detail an outcome. How could this be? How could those little, colorful cards possibly know anything about spiritual lessons or offer guidance in any way? I wondered; however, I had this strange knack of choosing just the right cards repeatedly. It did not matter what deck I used, the results were always the same. Improbable, I thought. Isn’t this just up to chance, I questioned, a total fluke that I would happen to pick one card over another? So began the great internal debate.

For the longest time, my doubt had this discussion with my imagination. Until one day, while I was quiet in meditation, I realized that there is so much more to my spiritual self. I was meditating on my totem animal guides, a shamanic practice I feel deeply connected to, and Crow, one of my lead totem animals, popped into my mind. On a whim, I randomly flipped over one of my Animal Spirits Knowledge Cards, and a magical picture of Crow surprisingly stared right back at me. It was as if my guides and the universe were collectively saying, “Shana, do you finally believe? How many more times does this need to be confirmed for you?” This spiritual ah-ha moment came at a pivotal time in my life. It was finally time for my imagination to declare victory over my doubt and end this tedious and unsettling trail. Case closed.

This was quite a significant realization for a logic-focused, mainstream woman like me, significant for several different reasons. One might say, “Great, you can now live the life of a seer and dabble in the mystical realms of reality.” However, did I really want to fly away from society on the back of a gypsy’s dream? I will be judged. I will be questioned. I toyed with the idea of professionally sharing my gift with others, but I quickly ushered these ideas into the shadows. My place in society was resolute, and I did not intend to make my claim to fame through any art of divination. Period.

It is curious how destiny calls. Over time, I began to soften and TRUST. I began to dissolve my instilled need to conform to the ideals of the left-brained, linear thinking majority. I began to recognize that it was only I that I ultimately feared- my own critical mind, judgment and disapproval. Did people really care if I could read a Tarot card spread? Would they truly write me off as a fringe mystic? If so, what impact would that honestly make in my life? And, for heaven’s sake, who are all these darn people anyway? Do I even know them?

Once I finally plucked my head out of that restrictive box I built for myself so long ago, I was actually able to see the value in my gift. I now honor it, and I honor myself as I use it. In the beginning of this personal acknowledgement, I gingerly offered Tarot readings to friends and family. This felt safe. Time after time, though, I would be surprised and impressed with the cards, for they were eerily precise. It was not long before I faced my TRUTH and offered this gift as a bona fide service to my global community.

I am grateful I have arrived at a place of admission, acceptance and self-respect, for it has allotted me a new platform to help others. Now, the question that blossoms from my heart is- how can I NOT share my abilities, ALL of them, with those in need? My desire to guide and support others now trumps any doubt or judgment I once had. My life path is paved as I serve others, and the Tarot is yet another modality I can now use to construct the life I was born to live.

The funny thing is… I finally discovered that people actually LOVE the Tarot. Who knew!

“Fate brings success, the unexpected arrival of good fortune.” ~Eden Gray

“The Wheel of Fortune can indicate a vision or realization that strikes with great force. If you’ve been struggling…this card can signal that you can find the answer if you stand back and view everything from a larger perspective.” ~Joan Bunning

“The Wheel of Fortune…symbolizes a new beginning and the completion of an earlier series. The second half of the quest has now begun. The Wheel is a mandala, a symbol of psychic wholeness and inner order….Cast [yourself] free from the bond of society, and [your] sacrifice is rewarded. The symbol of the Wheel brings with it peace of mind, the resolution of guilt, and an affirmation of the fundamental order existing at all levels of the universe.” ~Alfred Douglas

Crow Spirit

Two Crows

Two Crows

Nature is my religion. My soul communes with the outdoors, gifting me great spiritual inspiration.  I love the northern California beaches. Oceanic power induces deep meditations, harmonizing my center with life, rhythmically soothing and empowering me.  I also love the soft hills of Sonoma County, my current residence, with its rich carpet of grape vines and dried summer grass. I cast my gaze, wanting to reach out and run my fingers through it, feeling the prolific sweet fibers of the wine country. But what I really love is a densely wooded forest, dark green canopies, cushy earth, thick quiet, the magic and mystery of the energies that entice me, invoking earnest delight and wonderment. What spirits reside there? I am not sure, but they croon to me silently, plucking my heart, tuning it like an instrument. I play for them. I dance like an innocent child.

In my youth, my father would bring my sister and I to the redwoods of Oakland hills where we lived.  We would hike and search for faeries, gnomes, trolls and anything else our imaginations could lure into our visions. “They love to hide in the moss that cloak the trees,” my father would whisper, instilling excitement in my coasting eyes. Everything was vibrant and green. We hiked in the rain often with little more than an umbrella, lunch and a candle in tow. We would huddle around the single flame while nibbling on afternoon treats. The lone lizard would scurry by. Raindrops plopped on wet leaves, mud, stones, muffled by their journey. I had never heard such quiet or experienced such complete beauty. These memories never fade. Rich in luster, they flourish within me. I scintillate in nostalgia.

The closest forest to me now is Armstrong Woods. A mere 23 mile drive, and I can be coddled by tremendous redwoods. Last weekend, Laura and I explored these woods. Immediately upon our arrival, as we entered the density of this small wooded park, I opened- eyes wide, heart juicy and full. I hadn’t walked among the trees, ferns, dirt and moss in a long while. My senses heightened, enlightened, lifting my spirit, reminding me of my innate Self.

We journeyed within, walking deep into the park on a narrow paved road. We were alone. The silence was overwhelming; it folded around me. In the distance, I spotted two crows, walking the same road as Laura and I. They were far enough away to maintain privacy but close enough for us to clearly watch their movements. We were enchanted by the ambling pair. These two crows walked side by side like two old friends, soul mates, lost in one another and the simple pleasure of leisure. They strolled down the center of this narrow street, waddling, swaying, occasionally turning their heads toward one another as if in idle conversation. They looked like little people to me, small feathered people, enjoying the afternoon. Never before had I felt this way about wildlife. I am not sure if I was anthropomorphizing this interaction or, if on a deeper more intrinsic level, I was sensing their Truth. We watched the crows walk in front of us along our same path. They seemed to mirror us without knowing it. We smiled. It didn’t take long for the crows to sense our existence. Once catching on to our company, they leapt off the ground, swinging wings, calling to the trees, gently lifting into the sky. They were gone, leaving magic in their wake.

What really happens among the redwoods when humans are not around? Does the forest awaken to play and delight? There is an undercurrent of power, an unseen presence, that uplifts this wooded grove. I have always known nature holds precious secrets from modern man/woman or, rather, modernity has dulled man/woman from translating secret into truth. Whatever the case, I am unfolding, unwrapping my own gifts to bestow. I coil around and melt into the natural world. This, I profoundly sense, and watching these two old friends, the crows, solidified this sacred recognition, my connection to my Self and the landscape of spirit.

“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”

John Muir

*The artwork above, Two Crows, is by Mark Seabrook.

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