Welcome to our first ever episode of Shamans Way!
The Reality of Perception
When we first encounter or experience something new, it is perception that helps us establish meaning about it. In working with spirit, our perception can greatly affect what we experience, how we experience and even if we experience.
In this episode, we’re going to be talking about the various aspects of perception as it relates to physical, mental, emotional and spiritual experience with a focus on getting to the spiritual experiences. To help us, we will look at perception in terms of Sensation, Attention, Interpretation and Retention.
Sensation describes what occurs when a person’s sense are initially exposed to some sort of external stimulus.
Attention occurs when we linger and engage our mental processing.
Interpretation occurs when we assign meaning to what we have experienced.
Retention is the end result. Does this experience go into short or long-term memory? And how does it affect our perception going forward?
Listen to the show here:
The Show Notes
- Regarding Kriket’s reference to “I didn’t get caught in the moment, the moment got caught in me”, we believe was from an episode of True Detective (season two if we’re not mistaken). Let us know if we’re right!
Transcript: The Reality of Perception
We are experimenting with automated transcripts. These came out quite rough, but we decided to add them anyway. Mostly though, we recommend listening to the podcast as we believe you’ll get a much better experience from that!
Doug: Hello everyone and thank you for joining us for the first ever episode of the Shaman’s Way podcast. My name is Doug I’m co-hosting the show, I’m here with Kriket, who’s our star and she is nicknamed the evil overlordess of shamanism and she’ll share why shortly. Today she’s going to be talking to us about a shaman’s view on perception.
Kriket: I’d love to. I’d love to first explain why I got the nickname of evil overlordess of shamanism. I’ve been a teacher for a good number of years and my students have noticed over the years that I don’t have a lot of leeway for stupidity, or for inappropriate behavior. And, if I tell you to do something I really expected it to be done so they made me a t-shirt that said evil overlordess of shamanism and gave it to me as a birthday present. I coveted that shirt so as a brief introduction, I thought it would be fun to say that people perceive me as the evil overlordess of shamanism. So I really wanted to talk a bit about perception aside from a joking aspect of perception in the very simple fashion this is how perception works.
Perception establishes a meeting about an event, maybe an object and that’s when we make initial contact and perception is essentially processing information. So when we are engaged in perception at this stage, where we make initial contact with something, all of our senses are engaged. So I’ll give you some examples; one of the first things that I do before I do any type of shamanic work is I generally put on two different necklaces. Those necklaces give my body sensation of the heaviness of them and the weight of it around my neck, that’s the cue to my body that I’m moving into safe space.
Perception comes on many different levels. We have physical perceptions, we have emotional perceptions, we have mental perceptions, and we have spiritual perceptions. In the wisdom path that we’re studying right now; knowing oneself is one of the deepest lessons that will provide us with ways of moving forward in the shamanic world. To become aware of our perceptions; and I’ll often also refer to this as awake awareness or alert awareness, so that we have a context of how things change from one reality to the next reality.
The very next thing that I do engages my sense of smell so it again it is also in my physical realm and that is the lighting of smudge. The lighting of smudge allows my eyes to perceive that there is sacredness going on because I have associated smudge with sacred. I light my wooden match and then I light my candle first. From the candle then I light my smudge and I take my time with the candle and or with the wooden match lighting the smudge and making sure that all of the edges of it are lit, and slowly let that burn off. Or we’ll use feathers to smudge somebody. The reason that I use the external stimulus is that it is cued from the physical. My emotions were relaxed from the use of a smudge and smudge is often touted as being something that is aromatic and that engages the senses relaxes the central nervous system.
The sense of smell can trigger all sorts of really wonderful events within the body. It is also from that perspective the sense and the wisping of smoke lets me know that I am now stepping even further. I’ve invited the spirits to come into the room by lighting this modulus, this sweet smell, this is my offering to the spirits and those are aspects of cues with respect to how things are going to change attention is another way of gathering information processing. Attention occurs when we linger or engage our mental processing. So this is we’re coming into the intellectual or the mental aspects of perception. Sometimes we engage our mental processing and such as how many times have we picked up a stone right and we felt that energy off of the stone. Or we walk into a part of the forest and all of a sudden we feel something has really changed so we are being touched by our attention. So select a recent perception is when I pay attention to messages and these messages are going to be consistent with my attitudes. When I light smudge it is then my selective perception that I have sent a message to the spirits and the spirits are really going to get back to me.
With that my belief is that when I put on my necklaces, then I am protected. My need is I light a candle because that represents safety when I journey so these are my selective perceptions now.
Interpretation is an interesting aspect of perception. Interpretation means I assign a meaning to whatever has stimulated my senses. Comprehension is aided by expectations and also familiarity unconsciously or consciously, we scan our memory to retrieve previous experiences such as if I walk into someone’s favorite space and I smell smudge that my memory is retrieving. Previous experiences for that smudge so I really know I’m in sacred space my body relaxes and my spirits gather around so we interpret knowledge of something based on what we are more; more or less, familiar with. The final result or the conclusion of our perception process is retention, so some objects or maybe even a going to short-term or long-term memory.
I want to go just a little bit deeper. So let’s suspend our beliefs for just a moment. I like this one because this one people kind of don’t really see; but as much as we are perceiving, we are also being perceived. So as we look at the universe, it looks back at us. So we are not alone in that respect. There is a give-and-take in the aspect of perception when we journey which is using our spiritual and our mental perceptions. In most situations, we are entering into a place that operates independent of us so the spirit world; and my reality is that things in the spirit world watch me just as much as I watch other things. And the difference between what would be a daydream and what would be a spiritual trance or shamanic trance is that in the daydream, things operate according to what I believe is going to occur. So sometimes you have, you know let’s take it from the negative. You have an experience with somebody so you daydream about having that fight with somebody, but that everything that person says is going to be based on what you put out of their mouth when we’re in the spirit world.
It is we have to suspend our disbelief that the world operates dependent upon on us and we have to engage the belief that the world runs independently of us and I and I think that that is an important aspect of perception. Especially within the shamanic realm for the very simple reason that we tend to not talk about it. Because there isn’t really a lot of frame of reference because people haven’t suspended that aspect of their perceptions.
In another aspect that I wanted to talk about in regards to perception is I want to talk about what helps us perceive things. So when we talk about the physical realm, let’s say we can talk about the physical realm and we can merge that physical realm with the spiritual realm. One of the ways; and it’s not exclusive to shamanism, but one of the ways that we can do that is by using divination. Many people are familiar with tarot cards, many people are familiar with Oracle cards and even animal power animal cards; although they’re called totem cards and I won’t get into why that annoys the hell out of me, but anyway, divination has been long used by shamans and by many other people as a way of communicating with the spiritual world. Using something that is tangible and one of the things I realized over the years is that people really respect what is tangible, as when we do healing work and extraction can be incredibly powerful for the perceiver and the perceived based on what their expectations are.
If you’re coming to me as a stranger, my reality is that you’re going to perceive me as someone who is going to help you, but you probably have no idea how I’m going to do that. So in doing an extraction, I can do that extraction above your body with all of your clothes on, and if you are attuned to your spiritual self or your internal selves you will feel the energy being removed from the body. Many people don’t suspend their disbelief they’re coming to shamanism for as a form of healing for whatever their myriad of reasons are so my spirits have instructed me over the years to do an extraction hands-on, so to physically manipulate the body, to physically remove things from the body in order to engage the conscious mind. so again that changes the perception of what is going on if you are feeling the tug at your skin, your perception is that I’m removing something.
If you have a spiritual reality then when I’m tugging on your skin you can feel the energy being pulled out of your body. When we use divination, this is again a tangible form. Many people do not trust their own connections or spirit and many people do not trust their connection in meditation or in journey work. They don’t trust that when they travel with a question; they’re actually going to get an honest answer back and not just the answer they want hear or not the answer they put into the spirit says. So divination is a way of asking the spirits to say, you know what? I have this question and I want you to place things however you want to place things so that I get the answer.
What I use are called stones bones nuts and teeth and they are stones, they are nuts from a tree from South Africa and they are bones that came from a witch doctors kit from South Africa and they are teeth, which is actually a tooth, which is one of my teeth that I lost due to a severe, and I use it in my stones bones and teeth as a way of indicating illness. It’s usually illness either directly in the body of the person who is throwing the stone from substances or depending on how it lands it’s also very related to the maternal side. So Doug, if you were to throw the stones bone densities and if I would have seen that to come cavity up very close to your body I would say there’s an illness inside of you if you threw that those stones own sets of teeth and the tooth landed a foot from you or six inches from you but it still was cavity side up I would ask about the health of your mother or the health of your grandmother because over the years my perception has been that this tooth generally indicates x y and z.
Right so if we if we move back into that aspect of retention and interpretation we can see where we have to have all of our wits about us so when we throw in divination and we use a tool, we are engaging all aspects of them, of ourselves, our physical self because we are touching stones, we’re engaging the mental self because we have asked a question. We are now trying to figure out intellectually how those stones bones and teeth have answered that question. We are also engage in the emotional body because generally as the current or the person asking the question you have an emotional attachment to that question, and then we’re engaging the spiritual body because that’s the intuitive perception that aids us in gathering all of this information and putting it together in a format or the means that can be relatable to the person who’s asking the question, or even related to my own self.
So how would that apply to someone who uses a more traditional; say a tarot deck or something where there’s almost a prescription to what each thing means how does the perception come into that type of divination? I think from that perspective it’s really interpretation and retention. I think because there are, as you know there are the 78 cards in the actual Tarot. In the normal tarot deck and not an Oracle deck and so in that we retain knowledge so our perception is in retention and interpretation of that retention. So when we take it there one step further we’re also taking into symbolic language because the tarot cards are a very symbolic language. So we have a definite system that we have learned but there is a myriad of permutations of that symbolism within each and every reading.
So I think that it is further or maybe another aspect of a formulaic form of divination where the more obtuse; or not maybe obtuse, but maybe the more obscure method of stones bone nuts and teeth is a little more difficult to interpret because there aren’t you know, 175 authors who’ve written on that particular subject already. I think is one of the fundamental differences is that I think that there is identification retention as well as the spiritual interpretation so using that, whereas the stones bones nuts and teeth are more from an interpretive and intuitive perspective.
But they’re also physical, they’re also mental, they also have that emotional component. There they’re both very valuable in interpreting what is going on from a divination perspective and then a lot of your workshops, one of the first things you do is make people go collect their own set of stones and start from there. So absolutely thinking you have a bit of a preference for that direction, I absolutely do, I think that in order to strengthen our perception it’s really important that we have our very own course of perception. I think that spirit is one of the greatest teachers of all and in that regard, it is only sensible that spirit would give you an identifiable way of communicating with them as opposed to a formulaic or prescribed method.
The other aspect is that we don’t often trust our perceptions so I ask people to gather seven stones. In the apprenticeship class I’m going to ask them to gather the seven stones and paint the seven stones because again this is part of the wisdom path, of learning for themselves or knowing oneself and so in this wisdom path what I want to do is I want to give you each person encouragement and interpretation and know that perception is an active awareness of all matters. So if we can throw away a predictable form of spiritual communication then we are solely relying on our perceptions.
I’ll give you an interesting example from another nature workshop that I had. One of the things that I’d asked them to do this time around was to bring stones with them because we were going to interpret the stones in a blindfold manner. I just happened to get the message that I needed to walk up to a particular group. I could feel this energy calling me and I walked up very very quietly and the person who is going to do the reading using these stones has the blindfold on so that they don’t know what they’re picking up as again, this is more about perception. As I walk up I hear the one person who’s got his blindfold on; who doesn’t know that I’m there, picking up his stones and going “this is just really stupid exercise, I can feel that this is this stone because of this shape and this is this stone”. So I said “and how about you take a nice deep breath” and his Adam’s apple went straight up. I asked him to use his other senses because of his eye he knew it’s stone it was but with his fingers, he knew it stone it was but how does the weight feel in the body how does it feel in the heart how does it feel to throw those stones?
So we have an example of someone thinking that it is really a dumb exercise too, once they threw that stones blindfolded onto a piece of paper with a bunch of circles on it, and where the stone landed within that circle set of circle including the emotional and physical spiritual mental they were to interpret the stones based on how that fell and it was a really interesting exercise. And after on the exercise two gentlemen that I had caught came out and did indicate to me that it was a really useful exercise and was very grateful that I came up at the time I did in order for his logical brain to step aside and allow the spiritual brain to come forward and do the work.
Doing it because if people listen to this they’re going to be what wouldn’t work, we won’t go down that path in this show, but no in the future, absolutely I think that would be a great idea to do that. Firstly and then the other aspect that I wanted to talk about in respect to awareness is that you know we all have all talked about the interrelatedness and the interconnectedness of all things and I don’t think that somebody has landed on this page or has landed on this podcast if they don’t know that. These things if this isn’t part of their reality and if it is brand-new to you listeners then I will be the first to pop your illusionary cherry and tell you that all things are interconnected and all things are interrelated and all things truly are alive so when we shift from a singular perception up to the next which is being perceived.
So we talked about the perceiver and we perceived we keep our ability to retain or singular perception but now what’s happened is we gain a much wider view of what we’re experiencing and I’ll share with you a short story.
The traveler comes across two Stonecutters and you ask the first what are you doing and he receives a reply that he is squaring the stone. He then walks over to the second stonecutter and asks what are you doing and receives the reply “I’m building a cathedral”. So, in other words, both men are performing the same tasks but one of them is aware he has the choice to be a part of the greater dream. I think that we truly can see that in the aspect of perception standing alone the candle to light the match to light the smudge is a singular form of perception. However, the greater whole is that that wouldn’t match that light that candle ensures that my soul knows that I will always have a place to come home to and the smudge is my olfactory way of telling my body that it is time to move into sacred space.
So we are increasing that the aspects are the wave of the collective awareness so shamans begin with the collective and then through the collective we heal the personal and perceptions when I work with the Medicine Wheel I’ll go very briefly into what are I think the aspects of perception so we have the four states of men. We have the physical, we’ve talked about this number of times already but I just want to be clear because I don’t think I’ve sorted this out.
We have four aspects of men and four women or person or whatever aspect of a gender you are referring to. So we have a physical perception, we have a mental perception, we have an emotional perception and we have a spiritual perception. The physical body takes care of the physical facts. The mental body allows the process the intellectual process I have to light that match, from lighting the matching after light, the candle from mine in the candle I have to light a lot so it gives me the routines.
My perception is shifted because of the routine from there we go into the emotional body and the emotional body is generally associated with, you know that death part, the psyche part and then we have the spiritual perception of the perception of that interconnectedness or that interrelatedness of all things on the medicine wheel replace our perceptions in different places as well. We can say that in the east is the intellect, so the intellect or the mind resides on the eastern part the medicine wheel. The south part of the Medicine Wheel is fire and so for many of us replace that the physical the West is often considered to be the water. At least in North America is water so it’s the emotional aspect and then north is generally considered to be the place of the ancestors or the place of the spirit so that’s generally where we placed spirit. So in each of those directions are also lessons so if we go into. The East which is the intellect that inflected perception on the medicine wheel we also learn that our perceptions are like those of the bird so our perceptions have the ability we go from that singular perspective to the collective perspective that all things are related.
If I’m moving with on eastern part of the Medicine Wheel then on the eastern part of Medicine Wheel I’m dealing with bird and if I’m dealing with the bird then my perception is the perception of all around because birds generally fly, unless, you know, like their chicken or something we’re filming they can fly then you know we have we have that overview so I think that that’s an aspect of it and I also think one of the other aspects that I find very interesting is that when we come to the South, the physical part but South teaches us hard work it’s the place of the warrior female or male it really doesn’t earn a third gender but it doesn’t matter what gender you are the fire to me is the warrior.
So it is the physical it is that which propels me so I have to perceive my body when we are walking into a house let’s say we’re walking the thing we’ve got a job to do a shamanic clearing of the house a person’s house is having activity so we bring all of our perceptions we bring our singular perception and we bring our collective perception our thing is our perception gets us to the house that’s always very important. Our singular perception is the one that allows us to get together all of the individual tools we need and sometimes our intuition comes in and says oh I think I’ll take this stone or oh I’ll think I’ll take that stone but for me there’s a set formula for what I bring into a house in order to do that clearing. So we have the physical perceptions and I have my mental perception because I mentally am preparing what I need to put together to do out clean. Then the emotional I often will sit in my car and I have a process of Prayer and I have a process of things that I do prior to going into the house so I am putting my emotional energy out because I want to perceive how that person is feeling when they’re telling me their story because body language only tells me so much but the energy coming off of them helps me to perceive whether what going on in the house is annuitants what’s going on in the house could be frightening what’s going on in the house can be maddening for that person so I really need to be emotionally aware at the same time. Then the other part that walks into that house with me is the intuitive part, it’s that internal that third eye that seems to scan the entire building or scan the house, or scan the person to see where I can find the energy that is most disturbing to the person. So that’s an example of using all aspects of perception. We bring yourself into that house not because we want to war with the spirits that are in the house because that will never win you anything but we bring the warrior because we have no fear and if we have fear then we don’t show that fear.
Doug: It almost sounds like the perceptions you are talking about from physical to mind emotion to spirit it almost sounds like a continuum, or you’re going from the most grounded to most abstract.
Kriket: I think that you’re right we do go from that there is that there is that aspect of moving from one to the other and one of the things I think is that from going to want anyone to the other we are learning to understand their senses and that’s what’s most important to us. Most of us are stuck in our physical bodies so what we’re going to first is what affects us physically and then many of us can sometimes marry our brain our intellect with our body so some of us even have a relationship to think oh wait a minute I’m feeling anxious in my belly therefore when I go see Uncle Bob I won’t let his barb’s get under my skin.
Right, so and then that’s the mental body coming into it so the emotional body where does that affect me that’s another perception that we need to figure out too is we have a physical body. But our emotions affect us physically so where does Uncle Bob where is the anxiety Uncle Bob gifts to us revived reside in our belly? Does it reside in our chest? Does it reside in our lower back? In the progression of senses it is a way of teaching ourselves to be aware of more than just what is in front of us or what we can densely apply to ourselves. All right so and then the anxiety in the stomach, for example, is really a combination of emotional plus physical. Yeah it’s just being conscious to separate the two and recognizing what they are absolutely and then from the spiritual ask that we try to figure out some people would try to figure out what is the Karma between me and Uncle Bob some people even take it further to go what is the past life and I have an uncle Bob. Some people such as myself when I do healing work within the family I will draw a family tree and I will follow the family tree where one thing leads to another so how many were alcoholics. How many cause anxiety two women in the house how many were women who had been abused and abusive to their own children.
You know those sorts of things so I think that when we understand their senses we gain a much deeper insight into our very selves and eventually into our very universe. I think that that is something that is really quite important to us is that aspect of section so when we move I’m going to go further when we go west on the Medicine Wheel and we have placed our emotional body on the western part of the Medicine Wheel and then when we go north we place the ancestors who replace the intuition onto that part of the Medicine Wheel and I know in later chapters of our podcasts there will likely be an in depth one in regards to the Medicine Wheel but on shamansway.net we have a really good article and series of articles that already have a good in-depth understanding of what the Medicine Wheel is absolutely and we’ll link to those in the show notes of this as well so that I think that’s a great idea and I am not quite sure where we want to go in the respect of the perceptions.
The only other thing that I think I wanted to touch on in respect perception because many of us I feel is on this particular path because we are interested in being healers and there are many ways to perceive how your patients or how your processes are going. One of the things I really noticed over the years in working with people is to have them be able to believe that they have the right to be healed comes from perception and our perception of worthiness our perception of our ability to heal or the perception that our family will never escape our family and these are realities in some cases however if we change how we view things we change how things view us and there was a stellar stellar line in a movie of which I can’t remember exactly what what the movie was however what I really liked was when the actress said oh you really got caught in the moment and the person turned around and said no the moment got caught in me who said that the moment wasn’t seen and using me I thought that was really very interesting so we could say that how can we go back to a memory over and over and over again. Well maybe the memory hasn’t let us go maybe it’s not about us maybe our perception is that we’re being perceived and constantly watched by that memory so what would happen if we journeyed to that memory and we change that memory would we be able to stop obsessing about that memory would we be able to stop obsessing about how we physically mentally or emotionally changed because of that memory.
So again, we come back to the perceived in the perceiver one go ahead and that sounded like this can be used not only in the goal as a healer but in self-healing as well absolutely and I think that one of the aspects of the Medicine Wheel that is really been a part of my life is as you walk on the Medicine Wheel you know and I mean that not well not necessarily from a physical perspective you can walk on the medicine really walking a labyrinth of Lola, what I’m referring to is the longer you practice shamanism what I’ve noticed is that the more you go around the medicine wheel. So when I started my journey, I started off in the warrior position then eventually went into the emotional position and they mentally met the ancestors and eventually met East and so how many years does it take to walk around the Medicine Wheel to come back? To yourself depends on how much work you want to do with that what I wanted to close off with is that there are many ways of changing our perceptions so one of the ways that we can change our perception from a spiritual perspective is you know by using a trance inducer such as the rattle we can use a trance inducer such as the drum. There are many drum tracks on our website that they can refer to.
But the other thing in helping people change their perceptions when I have someone you know in my room for healing work I will often place stones in their hands or and ask them to hold those stones and either draw energy from the stones or put energy into the stones depending on what I’ve perceived is the most beneficial aspect for them the reason that I put stones in our hands is because I don’t know very many people period who don’t pick up stones, or who don’t look at stone. Some people are attracted to really fancy crystal stones and some people are attracted to really flat stones for skipping across the lake. But we all have some relationship with stones so when I have a person in a vulnerable place of healing and I could put stones in their hand so that they have something tangible some needs to focus their mental body their emotional body the physical body their spiritual body because the stones interact and engage all of the aspects of perception pretty cool.
I think it would be really good to end it there and we can pick up on another day with another topic but thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts on perception it’s been kind of fun to put it all together well thank you for pulling this all together and sharing it with us and for everybody listening.
Doug: there’s obviously a lot of references made there so we’ll pull together some show notes and you’ll find those at shamansway.net. And we definitely love it if you went over to iTunes if you listen to it from there and gave us a quick thumbs up there as well we’ll talk to you next time until next time thank you!