Prayer is nothing else than being on terms of friendship with God.” ~St. Teresa of Avila
In many traditional shamanic cultures, it’s considered poor form to speak about your spirit helpers….to do so might cause them to leave you. I’m blessed to have relationships with several spirit helpers. Not all of them want to be known but, Alice requested that I write an essay to honor her. Alice also has a chapter in Born to FREAK and many of her quips and wise words are scattered on the pages.
I’d like to introduce Alice. She’s an elephant. I’ve discovered the spirits are real. I’m not here to convince you but, to offer my truth. I’m a scientist by training. A chemistry major and M.D. board certified in Pathology…the study of disease. I used to be one of the most logical people you’d meet. Once I began to encounter and explore spiritual realities, everything shifted….in the most wonderful way.
When I asked Alice what she wanted people to know, she plunged into a river and said, “Tell them how fun I am!……How I like to cannonball in the water!. How I love to help! How I can be a serious like a sage or I can be silly and salty”. Then, she invited the entire herd of elephants to swim in the river with us. Have you ever gone swimming with an entire herd of elephants? Unbearable. Lightness. Of. Being. A kind of joyous letting go and childish wonder….heavy bodies made light and buoyant by water…spraying water from trunks that are playful water cannons…the grand underwater ballet of giant limbs churning the water with effortless ease. It’s bliss.
Alice is a loving and compassionate spirit who presents herself in a pachydermal package. She’s zany and theatrical. She can also be quiet and sensitive. I’ve heard that the spirits often appear to us in ways that will appeal to us? I myself have a default tendency to get too serious. Perhaps Alice appears this way because it’s precisely what I need?.
Alice isn’t an archetype, or an alter ego. For me, archetypes don’t converse, hug, swim and spontaneously dance or join you at the drop of a hat. I can’t be in a companionable relationship with an concept. For me, Alice is as real and distinctive as any other being. Alice has beautiful chains of peonies around her neck that I often press my face into. For comfort and to *know* she’s truly there. Shamanic journeying is a curious experience of knowing things without knowing. They must be felt with the sensuous part of your mind’s eye? They are known in your body/heart/mind/spirit.
I guess you could argue that Alice is me? I’d have to agree. Alice is a manifestation of God and so am I. So, in a way I am Alice and Alice is me in the same way that you dear reader are me and I am you. Yet Alice is also separate from me. You and I are also distinct but connected by spirit.
Alice came into my life slowly. I suppose it was so I could get used to the idea. Had a spirit elephant strode into my office in the hospital where I was practicing medicine a few years ago in all likelihood I would have thought I was having a psychotic break. Or, I might have missed her all together. I’m not sure I was open to receiving such a wondrous visitor. Instead…Alice took her time introducing herself.
Years before I understood who Alice really was, she appeared. She emerged as an image I had in a collection of old chromolithographs of wild animals. I had color photocopied one of these natural history illustrations from the 1800’s and cut her out with a pair of scissors. I remember noticing a kind look in her eyes. She was a very pleasing pachyderm….so beautifully soft gray with just the right amount of wrinkles. She felt warm.
She grew in my consciousness like a Polaroid.
I began taking shamanic journeys and elephants appeared in large herds in my visits. Often these experiences showed me how I belonged. In a later synchronicity, a friend gifted me with a piece of art she’d created of the elephant headed deity Ganesha on it. She said she *knew* she was making it to give to me? Finally, a single elephant appeared one day on a spit of land in a river in a journey. I wondered if this was the same Alice I had become aware of? The paper cut out Alice. I asked and she confirmed that she was. Over time, it seems, I kept looking again and looking again and again until finally she was all there. Like a fully developed polaroid, her image became fully fleshed out. She became real. To me.
Alice began to offer me teachings whenever I visited her.
I recorded these conversations and my results from applying the insights I received. Her wisdom helped me tremendously. Often, she’d laugh about my worldly concerns…not in a cruel way but in a kind, light hearted way. As if to say…these fears of mine were not to be taken too seriously. Alice often answered my anxious questions with funny metaphors. When I worried about money when I stepped away from my medical career….she instructed me to meditate. It helped. I kept going back for more. When I was afraid to share some of my more personal tales in my writing I kept asking her- “how can I know when this writing is high vibrational or will be helpful to others?”. I desperately wanted to know. To control the outcome. I was afraid that the words I wrote would be misunderstood…or worse…that they’d cause injury?. Alice would just take me into a free fall into pitch black darkness. At first it scared the hay out of me. She laughed kindly. She was letting me know, let go….this is a free fall…and you cannot know the outcome…..that’s the risk. I was gently informed that I needed to learn to get comfortable and enjoy this place of *not knowing*.
When I’ve been l confused about how to work productively she’s given me me practical sample schedules (work in early AM AND then walk the dog at 11…not the other way around) that have helped. She’s given me metaphors to help me understand what’s most helpful way to complete a project (a sometimes big challenge for those of us who were born to FREAK). For example: step carefully from lily pad to lily pad…don’t hurry or you’ll fall into the river! And methods for writing: jump in the river…float on your back…. dive down into the experience- the mud- and search for the pearl or gem then rinse it off ….look at it…and bring it to the surface. And this clarifying bit when I was concerned about using salty language in my book: Stay out of muddy quagmires. She’s even definined what *great* sex is: it’s like the blissfully close connection that exists between and baby and mother…intimate and divine and more beautiful than words. She’s a source of clarity and endless wisdom about the truth of all matters to me.
She knows when I can handle her cajoling and when I can’t. On days when I’m experiencing despair, she often gathers the whole herd around me and I feel embraced and loved on a level I have never before known. When I feel terribly alone or more hopeless than usual, Alice will hold me in an embrace so sweet and peaceful that I remember that: no matter what I’ll be ok.
She never hesitates to leap into action when I call on her to doing healing work with clients. Ready to lend a trunk and her endless resources of power and light. At times when I’m in a group drumming or simply just being…I’ll suddenly notice that Alice ‘s presence has grown enormously and surrounded all of us….billowing to the size of a house….or a huge building. She creates that safe container that holds all of us. She’s unlimited like that.
St times, she’ll reveal herself in ordinary (non-spiritual) reality in ways that surprise me. One day while traveling and experience loneliness, when I awoke I stared up at the ceiling to note that the sprinkler system in the ceiling resembled the head of an elephant and I *knew* in a split second that Alice was here. Sounds strange and implausible I know? Sprinkler head darshan? Grilled cheezus (Glee reference:). As a trained physician, I might have said in the past….”That sounds like a hallucination?“. All I can say is that it brought me a deep sense of comfort….of knowing I was loved. I was not alone. At other times, she’s manifested in a piece of wood near a stream bed….on a stone. Alice gives darshan in a myriad of different ways. She’s a sweet and powerful presence I can call on anytime.
I do want to make one thing clear: Alice is the most dear companion but, she doesn’t control my destiny.
Or boss me. In contrast, she cheers me on in whatever destiny I’m choosing. When I ask her what I should want to create….she always reminds me that it’s up to me. Best of all- she reminds me that it’s supposed to be fun.
Walking in the world with Alice is a little like *swimming with elephants* every day. I am so grateful that I was able to recognize Alice. I’m so grateful to her for appearing. For befriending me. Looking out for me. Walking with me. And above all for making me laugh and giving me the insights and tools I’ve needed to move along the path I have chosen with confidence.
Peace and the courage of 300 honey badgers, Sarah
If you’re curious to meet your own helping spirit (Core Beastie/Power Animal), I invite you to seek yours out…..it might FEEL really GOOD? It’s my wish that anyone who is seeking their very own Alice find them. You can get a FREE download of a guided shamanic journey (I drum for you!) to discover your own spirit by subscribing to my list on this page.