To be more in touch with one’s natural shamanic gifts I recommend some of these aspects. Shaman is a western word used to describe healers, helpers or wide people of any native tradition. Medicine is another word for power, energy or strength. This is a short list, and is in more point form, and involves medicine teachings I have learned from various earth traditions.

Learning to appreciate nature is one of the most important tasks of any apprentice. Native teachers teach us about harmony, thanks and caring for others: be they people, plants, animals, water or even inorganic beings (beings who can not be seen in our three-dimensional reality). I was taught to never pick a flower or even a stone without first learning how to ask if that part of nature wants to come with us, and then if the feeling is a warm one, how to leave an offering of thanks. It is in that respect, of realizing that all nature is a living being and we are equal to it, that we must ask its permission to come with us. If a rock or flower or tree says no, than we must respect their wishes. This respect and caring for nature as our equal is what will begin to allow nature to accept us and like us, thus open itself up to begin talking and teaching us.

Giving an offering every time we venture into nature is a must. This practice has likely saved my life numerous times. On one occasion a friend of mine from Norway, Elin, had come to visit me in Canada one summer. I took her for a long hike near Canmore. Before we began on the trail I took out a sage bundle that I was carrying to make an offering to the forest and ask if it was alright for us to come and spend time with it. I promised we would treat the area with respect, and asked it then to protect us while we were there. Elin was becoming frustrated because I was taking up valuable hiking time having a long conversation with a tree. Once my offering was done we hiked up the trail, soon forgetting about the “time” spent with the offering. After viewing two beautiful lakes, we hiked up further to a canyon so I could show her some ancient petroyglyphs on a “dreaming” rock. The trail was tight and signs around warned of “falling and loose rock.” Two women were coming down the trail, so I stopped to let them pass. At that moment a stone came flying from the canyon face some 60 yards away. It wasn’t rolling, it was as if it had been fired by a gun from the top of the canyon directly at us. I did not know it was on its way until I heard it wizz right by my ear. It had just missed Elin and I! Had one of us been hit in the head with that rock we likely would be dead, or at the very least badly injured. I have never seen a stone move that way in my life. Then I realized, somehow spirit was telling us something special. It has been my offering and prayer that had made the stone miss us. I am quite certain that without the offering and the prayer given, one of us would have been hit. It was a wonderful reminder to be sure to make an offering before setting into nature.

Time in nature spent respecting it and caring for it would increase one’s awareness, and then begin to be open the reality beyond this one. This other world, sometime called the separate reality, is the twin world to this one. This alternate magical reality is still easily accessed by children, until adults force us to stop connecting with out natural shamanic gifts.

I began with simple walks in nature. I knew that the sprit of nature was not just going to just start talking to me just because I walked in it a few times. These in initial walks were to refamiliarize myself with the natural world I had forgotten for so long, and for that world to get used to me again.

Night walks after a time are also good. Our mind easily assembles this world during the day, but at night in the wilderness our reason looses its edge as our senses are forced to heighten. It is why so many people are afraid of the dark, the mind can’t easily rationalize everything that is happening. The idea of the night is to take the focus off the eyes, and use our other senses. If something was coming after us in the woods at night we could not see it, we would have to hear and feel it. Night walking is a great technique for sharpening awareness. One must spend time alone outdoors at night to get the feeling of the west. So I walked at night often. Always it was a deeper experience than my daytime walks.

Once I recall walking from the golf course I worked at in Kananaskis, through the mountain trail back to the residence at 2AM. Most thought I was insane, there were bears and cougars out there! As I walked, once I got into the forest proper, at times it got very dark and ominous. It felt like “things” were looking all around. Yet I also felt that I had extra awareness and could see all the branches of every tree alongside the trail clearly, it was as if to me it was daylight and I could “feel” the trail with my feet. Even though it was dark I could make out all the holes, puddles etc. At times I “felt” something around, just checking me out. I also noticed light gray-like patches on the surrounding vegetation. A white butterfly (at least reason was telling me it was a white butterfly) kept flying to my left. It seemed so happy and joyous in the middle of the night. Why shouldn’t I be as well?

As I finished the one and a half hour walk and came to the edge of the woods near the residence, the forest seemed so strange. It was all bright and glowing. I noticed every bush, as it all seemed right in front of my face. I had trouble getting through the edge of the trees, and as I did a huge cluster of stars seemed to appear right through the branches. I got the feeling that if you can face your fears, and go straight through them, a whole universe (stars) awaits. Even back in the residence I felt to be in an altered state of consciousness. I had far more sensory awareness. Everything seemed louder, the can opener, the door, the stereo. I dropped my wallet, but it took me a few seconds to even “understand” that my wallet had fell. I was at such deep peace.

Get to know trees, the part of nature that is closest to humans. It is why people love things made out of tree products, it connects us with the trees. It is why people love books so much, the tree is just as important as the words printed on it. Rocks and trees have been around a long time, they have a lot of wisdom, and if you approach them the right way they just might share it with you. From there learn to do the same with plants. This requires great patience because they live at a very slow pace – for there is nowhere for them to go! I was to learn how to be relaxed like the plant. To learn what a plant or flower’s power is for healing requires long times of sitting with it, talking to it.

One time I began just sitting with a plant, just staring at it and mentally putting all other thoughts out of my mind except a sense of welcoming and friendship. Part way in I noticed that I was leaning towards the window, towards the sunlight. I began to feel that I was a leaf on that very plant. I began to notice a swaying motion, I was gently rocking back and forth, while always bending towards the light. I was very aware of the “other leaves” on the plant. Then I heard a sort of a clicking sound. I realized that it was the sound of the plant itself, it was speaking to me in its own language. I tired to mimic the clicking sound in order to be one with the plant.

Find the right stones for you and carry them on your person. A key is that we don’t choose stones, they choose us. Every rock I have I have always asked if it has wanted to leave its natural environment to come with me. The rock that may be the least attractive, may be the right one to be with.

Cleansing or smudging, using the smoke of specific plants (like sage, sweetgrass or cedar) is important to help clear the aura of one’s person, and the environment we are in. Simply burn some of the plant in a shell or bowl, and allow the smoke to clean the place where you are, and your person.

Tobacco is another smudge, and a very misunderstood one. Natives use tobacco as a sacred herb, although the use of cigarettes is an addiction and not healthy. To use a very small amount of tobacco in the right way is not harmful at all, yet few know how to do this. Tobacco is a herb that lets our prayers move to the lighter realms. The easiest way is to make a prayer into tobacco then burn it on a fire. Smoking brings more power and more danger. You see the smoke of the tobacco also takes your thoughts in the current moment to the creator, thus a prayer can be magnified. That goes for any tobacco used, which is why people who smoke cigarettes are so unhappy. They have bad thoughts, so they look to tobacco’s positive effects- to still the mind. But they don’t keep the bad thoughts out of their mind, so they go out and come back and their life gets worse. Of course tobacco companies do not use pure tobacco, but have all sorts of cancer causing garbage in them. But even worse are the smokers own thoughts, that get magnified right back to them. It is why I find it hard to be around someone smoking, not because of the smoke- but their bad thoughts in the smoke. One medicine man, Bruce Starlight, knew that he had bad thoughts one day, so he handed me his pipe to pray into because he knew that his bad thoughts would get into the smoke. Don’t be frightened by tobacco, used correctly it is a powerful use of prayer and healing and removing negative energy.

We learn in time how to work with the elements, and the sun and the moon. How to make sacred spaces like a medicine circle to focus energy. Eventually we will find power spots, places of very concentrated energy where we can recharge, stop our mind, find an answer to a problem, receive guidance or just relax. Every place has a spot of power, there will be a table in a restaurant that is a power place in that area, so too your home as them. There are also negative spots, that do the opposite, drain us. We don’t want to sit there. As long as I respect and look after that power spot, it will be like the crystal I carry and do the same for me.

Learn the use of power tools like medicine wands, staffs and the like. It is an element of nature that helps us to amplify our own inner power. A pipe is another key medicine tool, to allow the prayers placed in the tobacco to reach the spirit world. Rattles are objects to help shake up the mind, while the drum is used to match our and the earth’s heartbeat.

If one gets the opportunity to go to a sweat lodge, I highly recommend the experience. They are places of purification, healing and great connection to hidden wisdom.

Try a vision quest, a fasting in the woods to open yourself to the spirit to find our vision- purpose in this reality. Begin with something called a solo, a few hours alone in nature at night. Jesus, Buddha and Mohammed all spent considerable time alone in nature on their own vision quests. An article on this subject will appear in the future.

Learn to connect with the spirits. Using the journey that you can find on my web site is an excellent way to learn to receive guidance from other non-ordinary reality sources.

Get to know that the earth itself is a giant grid, and like our body it too has meridians that run all over it. Learn where these meridians cross, the acupuncture points of the earth. They are places that can help us the most, and the places we in turn can help the earth the most.