“The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself” (Henry Miller).1
On April 19, 2012, I am traveling south on highway 37 at about 5:35pm, heading home from work. A Mr. Miller is traveling west on 128. He is stopped behind another car. The first car goes across in front of me with plenty of time to spare. Then Mr. Miller starts out, pulling right out in front of me. There is nothing that I can do, no way to avoid hitting him. I hit him on the passenger side, about mid van, flipping his van over on its side. Fortunately, neither one of us is hurt. But both of our vehicles are assessed as total losses.
In the shamanic traditions of the Inca, there are four levels of perceptions. On the level of serpent, everything is as it seems. It is just what it is– an accident. Mr. Miller pulled out in front of me and I hit his van. On the level of jaguar, the mind interprets the physical reality. We become aware that our experiences are influenced by our thoughts and feelings and that everything isn’t just as it seems to be in the physical world. This encounter with Mr. Miller isn’t just an accident. Here I begin to attach meaning. “Maybe this is somehow my fault. Perhaps I wasn’t paying attention.” Or, “it’s Mr. Miller’s fault. How stupid of him not to look where he is going.” Here, thoughts and feelings rule and I may get caught in blame, judgment or guilt and anger. At the level of Hummingbird, things are seen from the level of the soul, the place of the sacred. We perceive all of our experiences as part of an epic journey, our soul’s journey—the place of dreams, myth and symbol. At the level of Hummingbird, things are what they truly are: an expression of the sacred. At the level of Hummingbird we listen below the surface and hear the hidden messages. At the level of eagle, matter simply disappears and we simply see spirit experiencing itself in this particular way. There is no time or space, only spirit experiencing itself as a meeting between a Mr. Miller and a Mr. Shalley. There is no a “me” hitting a “him.” There is only Spirit meeting Spirit. At the level of Eagle, we no longer perceive ourselves as disconnected from the planet or other people. Boundaries melt away as our individual souls recognize our oneness.2
Returning to the accident, I check my bands of protection3 and am quite surprised and pleased to see them extended out around me, like very plump airbags. I did not on that day and did not in the days after this accident experience any physical pain or discomfort, even though I was traveling 45 to 50 mph when I hit Mr. Miller. I inquire about Mr. Miller and find that he is alive and well, with only a small cut on his elbow. We call the police and tend to the insurance and the other logistics of getting our vehicles towed. When the tow truck arrives I notice the name on the truck is “Miller Towing.” So now the name “Miller” makes another entrance into my life. I just note this, thinking what are the chances that I hit a man named Miller only to have my car towed by the Miller towing company.
The next day, I sit down to continue reading in a book called “Courageous Dream: How Shamans Dream the World into Being.” As I open the book my eyes fall on this quote: “The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.” I am quite surprised when I see that this quote is by a man named Henry Miller. So here in the matter of 24 hours, I have met the name Miller three times. I’m beginning to wonder if this “meeting Mr. Miller” has some meaning for me. As I reflect on this idea I suddenly remember that the very first shaman I ever worked with was named Clay Miller. So now within a matter of 24 hours I have met the name Miller four times. I could no longer leave this meeting with Mr. Miller on the level of serpent, just an accident. I needed to explore this event at the level of Hummingbird as a sacred event of some symbolic meaning for my soul’s journey.
I schedule a session with shamanic healer and Four Winds instructor, Julie, Hannon to work on energy issues related to the accident. My preliminary discussion with Julie identified (1) my desire to check my bands of protection, (2) my desire to check the condition of archetypes, (3) my feelings of anxiety related to the accident and (4) my feelings of being wrong or doing wrong by hitting the other car.
In working with my feelings of anxiety and the feelings of being wrong by hitting Mr. Miller’s van, I traced these feelings to earlier memories of being wrong. I first go back to feelings of embarrassment for having the wrong kinds of pencils in kindergarten—a familiar memory that I had worked on before. Then Julie invites me to go back to another incident in my soul’s history where I felt anxious and like I had done something wrong. I see myself as a 6 year old boy. I am given the reins of horses that are pulling a buggy or covered wagon. I do something wrong and cause an accident with the horses. Julie then has me ask my guides to take me to an earlier time where I had these of similar feelings. I go to a former life time when I was born the “wrong” gender which was a repeat in this life time. But in the earlier life time I was born a girl and a boy was wanted. Julie has me go to the point of conception when all energies came together and breathed all that into the Kuya (stone). She then worked in my energy body clearing the Luminous Energy Field while I am breathing and releasing this energetic pattern.
Julie then has me expand the bands and she checks them, having me spin them clockwise. The bands are fine. Julie then checks the archetypes. She asks me about hummingbird and eagle. As I bring my attention to the third and fourth chakras, I sense that Hummingbird and Eagle are fighting or bantering for space. Julie tracks that hummingbird is injured and eagle is attempting to care for that space. Julie’s tracking reveals that the remainder of Hummingbird needs to be extracted and a new hummingbird installed. Julie does this, having me breathe from time to time. She then has me hold my hand over 3rd chakra (hummingbird) with my other hand over 4th chakra (eagle) and introduce them to each other. She then has me do the same for the 2nd (jaguar) and 3rd (hummingbird). Julie’s tracking indicates that the accident with Mr. Miller had something to do with my soul’s journey and the need for a new hummingbird for new journey at the mythic level. Julie says that hummingbird tells her that there is writing in my future. Julie completes the illumination. She says that Huascar also has a message for me. Huascar’s message is that I need to journey to the underworld more frequently, because there are messages for me there. After this illumination and energy work, I notice that my chest area doesn’t feel caved in.
Following this work I determine to increase my journeys to the Lower World to get the messages that Huascar spoke of. Shamanic journeying is the inner art of traveling to the “invisible worlds” beyond ordinary reality to retrieve information, a path to regaining knowledge of how to bring our lives back into a place of harmony and balance. Operating on the principle of direct revelation, shamanic journeying helps us to part the veils between the seen and unseen worlds and access information and energies that can help awaken us and restore us to wholeness.4
During a meditation, I decide to travel to the Lower World. Many shamanic traditions believe that invisible reality or the “unseen” reality is divided into three separate worlds: the Lower World, the Upper world, and the Middle World, each with its own distinct qualities and landscapes. The Lower World tends to be earthy, filled with mountains, deserts, dense jungles and forests. Huascar is keeper of the Lower Worlds in the Inca tradition and thus the guide that accompanies me on my journey.
I travel to the place of Huascar and tell him that I would like to travel to the Lower World as he had suggested in a recent healing session. Huascar agrees to this journey and takes me deep into the underworld. We come upon a pool of water surrounded by beautiful vegetation. I notice many hummingbirds and Huascar tells me “this is the place of the Hummingbird.” I look into the pool which is crystal clear. Mist rises from the pool and Huascar tells me that the mist rising from the pool is the wisdom of the Hummingbird. He instructs me that I am to visit this place regularly, and that I will learn to read the mist rising from the pool. Somehow there is a connection between this mist, the depths of the pool and the Hummingbird.
Suddenly I hear these words: “Look deep within the pool that is inside you and you will find the wisdom of the universe.” I don’t know whether these words come from Huascar, the pool or the Hummingbird. I hear, “it doesn’t matter because they are all One. Energy of the One is continually exchanging itself with the energy of the Other.” “But then,” I ask, “how does one distinguish between them?” “There is no distinction” I am told. “It is the human mind, the ego that has the need to separate.” As I continue to meditate on this image I see the mist rising. The mist takes various forms–forms of hummingbirds and other forms.
On the level of Serpent, mist is simply a thin fog with condensation near the ground, droplets of water suspended in air. However, at the level of Hummingbird, mist is a symbol for in-between states, where water is mixed with air and becomes something like earth-bound clouds. As the union of air and water, it becomes a symbol for the union of the masculine (air) and the feminine (water). Mist is also a symbol for the time of twilight between night and day, the in-between space between the worlds of consciousness and the unconscious, between matter and spirit, that place of seeing into matter, seeing the invisible. Mist is also a gift from the spiritual realm, a gentle rain of fertility, the sacred substance that impregnates our mind and spirit, enabling our thoughts and insights to grow and blossom, a sign from the divine that what we are looking for is almost within our sight.5 Mist, as symbol, seems to reinforce the message of this journey to the Lower World: “Look deep within the pool that is inside you and you will find the wisdom of the Universe.” I paint the place of the Hummingbird. See Image 1.
Image 1: The Place of the Hummingbird
In another meditation I suddenly see a chicken running down a path. The chicken begins to fly and I realize that this is a call to journey to the Upper World. I either am the chicken or I ride on the chicken and fly up and up. I am surprised that a chicken can fly this high. It continues up until I pass through the veil and am in the Upper World. A voice says to me “Who do you want to be here?” I say “a shamanic healer.” Then I hear and see a circle of shamanic healers drumming. I am invited to join the circle. They pass several drums to me and say, “You must find your drum” like the drum that “fits” me. I choose a drum and sit in the circle drumming with this circle of shamanic healers. They tell me that this is my lineage, my tribe and that they are here to support me and to assist me. They are always available to me. I can always access their energy, their power, their drumming. As I drum and work with my drum, I am aware that I am discovering its rhythm, its vibration. I become aware that this is a “Hummingbird drum,” that it vibrates with the 6th chakra and Hummingbird, opening the 6th chakra and the third eye. I paint “The World of the Hummingbird” on the drum and then journey back to earth bringing the drum with me.
While continuing to meditate I see that I am standing before a door. I open the door and there is a stairs leading down. I realize this is my way to journey to the Lower World again. I descend and re-enter a dream that I had some months ago, an underground laboratory. I relive this dream, where I am connected to this apparatus which connects me to the energy fields of the cosmos. The energy from the Universe or Cosmos downloads into my body, into my third eye and 6th chakra. In fact this energy downloads into all my chakras and my hands and feet, encoding me with information. I feel sensations in the various parts of my body. After some time I journey back up to the Middle World aware that I am carrying my drum and the energetic information and vibrations that have been downloaded. I have the awareness that this all has something to do with finding, being and delivering my medicine, stepping into my medicine. See Image 2.
A journey that began with a “chance” collision with a Mr. Miller results in a series of experiences initiated by that collision that ends with messages from Spirit: (1) Visit the place of the Hummingbird often and learn to read its mist. (2) Look deep within the pool that is inside you and you will find the wisdom of the Universe. (3) Energy of one is continually exchanging itself with the energy of the other. There is no distinction. (4) Find your drum and join the shamanic healers, we are here to support you and assist you. We are always available to you. You can always access our energy and our power, and (5) carry your medicine into the world. These are messages, messages pertinent to my soul’s journey that I may well have missed if Mr. Miller and I had not collided on the April afternoon.
Let me return to my collision with Mr. Miller. Since the word “miller” showed up in my life 4 times within 24 hours, I wonder if “miller” might have some symbolic or spiritual meaning. Moving from Miller simply as a surname (level of serpent) to its symbolic meaning (level of Hummingbird), the name Miller is usually an occupational surname referring to a person who owned or worked in a mill and comes from the Roman (Latin) meaning to grind. In general, a “miller” is someone who grinds something into powder, to reduce to fine particles, so that it is more easily assimilated.
Since my encounter with Mr. Miller resulted in experiences directly related to my journey into shamanism and energy healing, I ask myself how is a “Miller” like a shaman or the energy work that I do? As I pose this question to myself I am immediately reminded of a dream that I had several years ago. In this dream I see my orb and am told that this is my soul’s next manifestation. I see my orb with a small version of myself inside. I then zoom in and look closer at the orb and see that at this level it is pure energy. I have the realization that at the core everything is pure energy.
As a shamanic practitioner, I work at the energy level of patterns or problems. I take pattern such as a client’s anger and work with the energy of the pattern. This “energy work” accesses the energy of the problem, its core components, its “fine particles” which makes it more accessible to alter, release or transform. Just like a “miller” grinds a piece of grain reducing it to fine particles such as flour for easier access, digestion or use, I access the energetics of the problem, the fine particles, which allows the client to work at the energy components of the problem.
Besides being a surname, referring to someone who grinds grain, miller is also an insect, a type of moth. In shamanism every animal, bird, insect, etc. has its own wisdom and medicine for the earth. Moth (miller) wisdom includes the power of the whirlwind, ease of movement in the darkness, transformation, and its ability to find light in the darkness. Putting these two ideas together, a miller as someone who grinds something into powder to make it more easily assimilated and a miller as an insect that is able to find light in the darkness, I can see why the “energy of miller” showed up in my life, to grab my attention to keep my me on track as someone who works with problems at the core level—the energetics– and move the dark heavy energies into the Light for transformation.
And yes, Mr. Henry Miller, with whose quote I began this blog: “The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass (or in my case, even an auto accident), it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.”
1Quoted in Courageous Dreaming by Alberto Villoldo, p. 77
2The descriptions of Serpent, Jaguar, Hummingbird and Eagle are taken from the book, The Four Insights by Alberto Villoldo, pp. 7-19.
3The Bands of Protection are 5 Bands that are installed into the Luminous Energy Field. The Bands of Protection act as filters to absorb anything negative that comes your way, mulches it, and feeds the elements of earth, water, fire, air, and pure light instead of harming you with ills or toxic emotions. This originated in the Q’ero nation.
4Ingerman, Sandra. “Shamanic Journeying: A Beginner’s Guide.”
5 Joseph Panek, A Seeker’s Thoughts