Through the Centuries by Jack Crimmins
Dedication and Acknowledgments
Introduction: The End of Days: Where Do We Go From Here?
AGNES WHISTLING ELK: The One Who Knows How
Circling Back: Life, A Glorious Rite of Passage
Circling Back: The Power of Spiritual Integrity
Circling Back: Living a Life of Magic
RUBY PLENTY CHIEFS
Circling Back: The Law of Grace
AMY HUMMINGBIRD WING I, The Melipona
Circling Back: Through the Eyes of a Spiritual Warrior
AMY HUMMINGBIRD WING II, Sisters of the Jaguar
Circling Back: Shape-Shifting in an Ever-Changing World
CRYSTAL MOUNTAIN DREAMING
Circling Back: Dreaming, a Shaman's Perspective
Circling Back: Hero or House Pet, Which Are You?
Circling Back: Shaman Woman in Egypt
AN ANCIENT AND MODERN PROPHECY
Circling Back: World News, a Shaman's Point of View
AGNES WHISTLING ELK: Elkhorn Mountain, Revisited
Circling Back: The Healing Power of Forgiveness
A FAIRY TALE
Circling Back: Embracing the Unknown
BETTY FAST BEAR
Circling Back: Fencing in Your Consciousness
Circling Back: Return of the Goddess
TWIN DREAMERS: Bitter Spring
Circling Back: Risk-Taking and Laziness of the Soul
HANNAH OF THE LIGHT
Circling Back: Dancer of Light: Trusting the Ways of Power
Conclusion: Standing At the Crossroads of Power
Sky and Earth by Jack Crimmins
Early in my work with my teachers in the Sisterhood of the Shields, I dreamed that I would find a way to honor the gifts that these women of such varied cultures had bestowed on me. How could I explain my ability to see lights around people? How could I share the mysteries that I had experienced? The more I looked for answers, the more I looked at the human condition and the meaning of life. I began to explore the lives and teachings of religious people, wise ones, writers, artists of many different beliefs. I knew that I was a writer. I hoped that I could bring a new way of "seeing" to others, so I climbed into the vast expanse of the consciousness and unconsciousness.
Since my first dreams of creating a school and being an author, I have written many books, each centered on a particular theme and different teaching. Each book tells the story of my experiences with teachers. Each story contains a single thread of learning. With this new book, I am able to tie together the fibers of many stories and journeys to share the lessons I have learned with extraordinary women. These very different cultural experiences have empoweered me in my struggle to manifest into words what I have learned and dreamed.
May you have your own dreams and awaken to your new understanding!
"The End of Days: Where Do We Go From Here?"
Everyone today wants answers. Wherever I travel, meeting people from all walks of life all over the world, I find most often that people today are exploring their reasons for living.
They ask me, "How can I learn more about God and myself? How can I learn more about profound spirituality? I want to learn about the great masters and the women of power.
What did they teach you and how did you learn about such higher consciousness?”
These seem to be such simple questions. But the answers are complex.
When I began my apprenticeship to Agnes Whistling Elk and Ruby Plenty Chiefs thirty years ago, I had no idea that they were part of a very private and anonymous gathering of elder women of high degree from various native cultures around the world. Later, after I was initiated into their circles--the Sisterhood of the Shields--as a full member. Agnes and Ruby would send me off to study with one or another of these beautiful women.
With Agnes and Ruby, I traveled to Australia to apprentice with Ginevee, an Aboriginal woman of very high degree. I traveled to the jungles of the Yucatan to apprentice with Zoila, a curendera of Mayan descent. I traveled to Nepal to apprentice with Ani, a Nepalese hill woman of immense power and wisdom. I have traveled all over the world to study and work with indigenous women healers from many different cultures, all members of the Sisterhood of the Shields.
It has been my considerable privilege to write of my experiences with a number of these women, but not all. Some of them prefer to have our work together held only amongst the Sisterhood, each for her very own respected reasons. Some prefer to remain completely anonymous. Some live in countries where the practice of their beliefs is prohibited by repressive governments and to write of them could expose them to personal danger.
In this book, however, I have the great honor of introducing you to a number of these women about whom I have not previously written, as well as sharing with you additional stories with several of them. Each new story of the Sisterhood is accompanied by an article that grows out of our experiences in the modern world, yours and mine, and how the teachings these women have gifted to us can be applied to help us move into harmony and a state of grace with the world around us. Both the stories and the articles are designed to make the wisdom of the Sisterhood of the Shields more accessible in our daily lives.
While raised in the culture and traditions of their own indigenous worlds, these women don’t follow their native traditions. Rather, theirs are teachings of the sacred feminine, the first-ness of women here on Mother Earth, the ancient goddess teachings as they have been preserved, practice, guarded and handed down to the Sisterhood from mother to daughter, shaman to apprentice, for many thousands of years, throughout the entire lifespan of the patriarchy. These are the teachings they have given to me, and through me, gifted back to a parched and starving world that hungers for higher spiritual consciousness.
The women of the Sisterhood often tell me that human beings were never intended to live with the amount of chaos and confusion that we face in our world today. Yet here we are, and it is precisely because of the perils we are forced to accept as a “normal” part of being alive today that sacred teachers have walked out of the deserts and jungles of the world, down from the high mountaintops and even the cities where they have been forced to live in virtual obscurity in order to remain alive. They are coming forward to return to a world that had once turned its back to their ancient teachings that have never failed humanity, the ‘wisdom of the ages,’ in all of the many different ways it has been practiced across the globe.
This thought, the “wisdom of the ages,” gives me a sense of well-being that fills me with the certainty that I am loved, that I am part of a greater world that has survived lifetimes of change through the healing power of love. By opening our hearts and filling them with this love and the wisdom that is born from it, we can draw all of the strength and wisdom we will ever need in life, if only we know how.
Carl Jung was once asked if he believed in God. He answered, “I don’t believe. I know.” The Sisterhood of the Shields are women who know, and in their knowing I have found a greater clarity in life that I have ever before known, a certainty grounded in ancient knowledge and understanding of how energy moves in the universe and how to choreograph that energy toward a higher purpose in life.
As my books will attest, my apprenticeship to these women has often been difficult, fraught with struggle and, to my way of thinking, peril. Many people ask me, “Lynn, how could you, a woman of our world, an art dealer from Beverly Hills, endure this? Why did they put you through all of that turmoil?”
The simplest answer is that struggle is really the only way we ever learn about ourselves. You can’t teach people about themselves by standing at a podium and lecturing. Especially, you cannot teach people how to find trust, how to honor their own personal truth in life, through the never-ending cycle of lecture and testing as they search for the answers they think someone else expects them to give.
The only way to learn about your own higher consciousness is through the millenniums, and many powerful and wonderful spiritual books have been written from every beautiful religious and spiritual pathway on earth. But you cannot learn about yourself by reading someone else’s interpretations of life and the voice of the Divine Spirit. You only learn through applying what they have to say to the experiences of your own life to see what holds true and sacred for you. What works for one person may fall completely flat with another, so why would you want to turn the most precious and sacred aspects of your consciousness over someone else’s experience of truth
The Sisterhoods of the Shields believed firmly, they knew that the only way I was ever going to learn, the only way I was going to bridge the enormous chasm between the ways they had grown up so very close to the natural world and my life in Western civilization, was through the process of experience. They knew that those experiences had to be forceful enough to grab my undivided attention so that I had no alternative but to listen to my own voice of wisdom and spirit which they coaxed out of me, a voice which gets positively drowned out by the clamor of modern living. It is a voice which I had glimpsed in rare moments but had never really understood how to access. This is the voice of inner, personal truth with which we are all born into this world.
There is now way I could even have begun to understand what it was Ginevee was trying to teach me about myself had all my personal props not been taken away from me, had I not had to learn how to live with almost nothing in the Australian Outback.
I would not have heard was Zoila was trying to teach me about my sacred nature and incredible power as a woman had I not had to struggle through the physically perilous trials with which she had grown up in the wilderness of the Yucatan. From the moment that I had first met her, she knew what I refused to even look at in myself: that I secretly felt unworthy of the great gifts of Divine love and wisdom, even of physical abundance, because I had been abused by my father as a child. She also knew that if she confronted me with words about these feelings which I tried so hard to hide, I would never have listened. She knew to put me into positions where I had to fall back on my innate strengths and weaknesses in order to survive. Then she would talk to me about why I had experienced such terror over what many face on a daily basis and handle just fine, and what this could teach me about myself as I moved forward in life.
My teachers in the Sisterhood of the Shields teach experience. They teach through humor. They teach through giving you only one of two options: look at yourself so that you can learn and grow, or give it up and walk away. I could have walked away many times, and I am so profoundly thankful that I didn’t.
When I stand back and look at my many years with them, the hardships I have faced, how hard I have had to work to understand them, both because of language differences and more importantly because they saw things about me that I didn’t want to see about myself, I see so clearly the profound wisdom of their ways. Ruby Plenty Chiefs, with her gruff, confrontational demeanor, forced me to focus every aspect of my being. In doing so, she taught me more about trust and love than anyone else I have ever known. It is probably true that I was only able to teach that level of acceptance because of the boundless love and nurturing that I received from Agnes Whistling Elk, but never doubt that Agnes could be as terrorized as anyone when it was the only way to open me up to accepting wisdom after which I had so thirsted my entire life.
And they taught me how to laugh at myself, how not to take myself so seriously that there was no room for light to come into my consciousness. There is always tremendous humor in their ways.
When I was working with Ani, Agnes, and Ruby in Nepal, we set out to climb across the high Himalayas into Tibet for a fifty-year gathering of the Sisterhood of the Shields in the Valley of Luctang. After what was, for me, a frightening encounter with the Chinese Red Guard who secured the borders into Tibet, we were progressing well along the trail when all of a sudden the ground began to shake and huge boulders cascaded down from the mountain peaks, completely obscuring the trail ahead of us. I thought that our lives might well be over.
Ani had other ideas. “Well, Lynn,” she said, “it appears that the mountain has given you a gift. It has given you an avalanche, perhaps to show you how you block yourself in life.”
Okay, I thought. This avalanche is a gift, to me. Why not? … as I stared over the precipice at a sheer cliff face that dropped hundreds of feet into the raging waters below.
“We will do a ceremony,” she concluded.
Oh, right. “We will do a ceremony.” Why didn’t I think of that? We’ll just levitate these boulders right out of here … because there was no way I was willing to face those Chinese soldiers a second time. The women had rubbed dirt on my face and wrapped me in a pashamina shawl, disguising me as a local shepherd boy, but no disguise is infallible. Had I, an American woman, been caught trying to sneak into Tibet, I would have been arrested and thrown into a Chinese prison.
We’ll do a ceremony.
The only thing you can do in the face of such odds is laugh, laugh at the situation, laugh at yourself, laugh at the absurdity of the odds. Laughter shakes you up and separates you from the enormity of the situation so that you can find clarity in what you have to do.
A ceremony we did do, and we got down off that mountain quite safely.
All of the women of the Sisterhood are so beautiful in their own ways. As I write of the differences among them, I am so amazed at how alike they really are, vastly different in appearance but as one in spirit.
Their experiences in life are different, yet as I have found, in the work of the shaman, power is the same all over the world. Whether I am sitting with Ginevee and other Aboriginal women in the Outback of Australia or with Zoila and the Mayan women of the Yucatan, the language of power is the same. We don’t share a common spoken language but we understand each other fully. We understand each other in the world and we understand on the level of symbolism.
Symbolism is not contracted and contrived by words or interpretation. Except when you are dealing with an archetype--a symbol the meaning of which has a universal quality--no two people are going to see the same thing in a symbol. Even our experiences of the significance of an archetype are going to differ. Communicating in the relative world of physical reality is interesting. When you get into the world on the other side of the veil, it’s not as difficult because you move through pictures of things, unclouded by words, judgment, criticism or emotion.
“2012” is a year that has been spoken about for centuries, prophesied by the ancient Mayans over a thousand years ago, written about in the Bible and so many of the ancient texts of the world as a time of huge chance on planet Earth.
The ancient scrolls which are hidden in the Seven Clay Pots, guarded by the Sisterhood of the Shields for many hundreds of years, call this the “Crossing Times.” It is the time of crossing from one level of human consciousness into a new age of wisdom, where the possibilities of all things are within our grasp. Ani and Agnes have both told me that right now, we have the possibility of creating a new world of heightened understanding if that is our choice.
To the sisterhood, “2012,” the so-called “end days,” marks the end of the “protective” womb of the patriarchy and the consciousness of victimhood which has grown out of it. It is not the literal “end of the world.” It is the ending of a very dysfunctional cycle of human consciousness which coincides with a natural cycle of rapid earth changes, as predicted by the Mayans so long ago, enhanced, no doubt, by mankind’s tinkering with environment in ways we do not even begin to comprehend.
We have actually been going through this shift for all of the 21st century. In large measure, it is a shift that is responsible for much of the stress and pressure we are experiencing in the world. Life is forcing us to birth ourselves into a new adventure where each of us must create and hold up to our own life as we have dreamed it throughout eternity. At the same time as a new consciousness is being birthed into the world, we are actually going through the birth canal, ourselves. We are literally giving birth to our new selves as we are asked to give birth a new awareness of light and compassion and understanding into the world. And, as any woman who has ever given birth can tell you, the process of giving birth is extremely difficult. It is filled with struggle, pain, even fear, for you don’t really know what to expect until it happens.
Because we are alive today, we are the ones who are giving birth to this new consciousness, with all the struggle and sacrifice that a birthing entails. It is a consciousness of Oneness with the Great Spirit and harmony with all of life, replacing the old consciousness of separation, victimhood, and warfare that has plagued us for so long. The Great Dreamer God who has dreamed our dreams for us in so many ways--who among us would ever create for ourselves the dream of such massive suffering and destruction that we have seen through the last hundreds of years?--this Great Dreamer God is waking up. He will no longer be dreaming our dreams for us, thank you very much.
Instead, we each have to take responsibility for our own dreams. The new consciousness which is upon us is a consciousness that says, “I am responsible. I am responsible for what I do and what I do not do in life.” It replaces the old consciousness of victimhood and selfishness that says, “Take care of me, regardless of the cost to the world around me.”
The good news is that we are not along in our struggle. The goddess is returning to this world, the sacred feminine consciousness which balances the male consciousness so that there can be true harmony. Harmony is found only where there is balance. There has been an enormous imbalance in the masculine and feminine energies of humankind for many thousands of years, to the point where the sacred feminine was in danger of going out of our lives forever. Think about it, without the mating of the male and the female there can be no life, at all. Where that mating is forced, disharmony and conflict follow. But where the mating is the result of the sacred masculine and the sacred feminine meeting in the center, freely and with joy, a great creativity is born.
This is the new world into which I see us moving. This is what “2012” means to me. It is a new world born of the ancient understanding that all of life is rooted in our Oneness with the great God beings of our existence, born of the ancient understanding and the uncertainty that we are part of the Great Spirit, just as the Great Spirit is part of each of us. Through our Oneness with God, we are One with all of existence, no longer separated into warring factions.
It is the same understanding and light in which the Ancient Ones walked, magnified a thousand-fold by the great flowering of human ingenuity and creativity that has taken place in the intervening millenniums.
It is my belief in the immense possibilities for good and higher consciousness that has given birth to this book. Coming Full Circle, Ancient Teachings for a Modern World is born of my decades of working and growing within the teachings of the Sisterhood of the Shields, as we have sought to apply them to the modern world. It is a book that is intended to help you discover how to elevate yourself, how to elevate your body, mind, and spirit to the highest degree possible, beyond anything you ever imagined.
In the process, it is my great pleasure to introduce you to members of this amazing group of women for the very first time and share with you more of our experiences together. Each chapter is about a woman of the Sisterhood of the Shields. Each is accompanied by the article I have written to show you how I translate my experience of these women and their teachings to guide me through my life in our complicated modern world. I hope they will also guide you to a greater understanding and acceptance with the gifts which surround you and are already within you as, together, we find our way through our world.