I recently attended an inspiring online summit so I’m eager to share a memory with you!
Among many wonderfully soulful speakers, Shift Network’s 2021 Shamanic Wisdom Summit featured Reverend Deborah L. Johnson. Her presentation, You Are The Verb, sparked motivation and inspiration. Shawna Bluestar Newcomb hosted Rev. Johnson’s talk first began with prayer, then continued by turning attention to ‘The Call.’ This kind of ‘Call’ is not a phone call, but rather the kind of inner, spiritual call that can scare the crap out of anyone. This kind of call feels bigger than you are, and by surrendering to the call, life changes forever. Rev. Johnson proclaimed, “Say yes first, then faint!” This yes, is a sacred yes. After just the first nine minutes of her talk, I was invested – I knew I wanted to stay and take it all in.
Rev. Johnson used the fire triangle as a metaphor for explaining this spiritual, inner call (This was somewhat poignant as I was tuning in to her presentation from northern California at the start of wildfire season). Using the fire triangle reference, she he explained that to keep the fire burning within, you have to have all three: Heat, Fuel, Oxygen. Rev. Johnson elaborated on each of the three components:
The HEAT isn’t fun or pretty. It is often disruptive. It pushes and moves you up and on. This kind of heat won’t settle for the status quo.
The FUEL is what sustains you and nurtures you, such as self-care and discipline.
The OXYGEN is the transcendent place. It breathes – there is air. It’s the place of inspiration.
In life you need all of this – heat, fuel, oxygen. Often, we play these roles in life at the same time, Rev. Johnson says.
At this point in her talk, I am struck as a memorable dream from 2018 flooded into consciousness. I’ll share the bulk of it with you here – In the dream,
A group of people call me over to them, as it is time to go, so I go to them (leaving what I was doing behind). We cross a threshold-like space and we are now outside walking on a path. As we continue along the trail, it’s apparent there is a sacrifice. I recognize it, noticing it has been moved or touched. I want to fix this – it is special looking – but I’m afraid to touch it. I see some thick rope and dead snake bodies with small skulls all around. Upon first glance it could look scary, but it is not. It’s an earthen altar of sorts. A female (appearing as a combo of two spiritual female friends of mine occupying one body) jumps in to straighten it up. There is a bowl where the fire has been burned out so we get that fire going in the tiny bowl and I offer to keep the fire alive. It’s like I proclaim this to the dream space. I have the dead body of a snake to offer the fire to keep it going. We break the snake body up and place it on top go the fire as an offering. I have mixed feelings (including some sadness) about this act because I realize the snake body will turn to ashes and be gone forever. Is it better to just lay the snake body at the altar? That’s what it looks like, an altar. It’s very earthy and pretty intense looking.
This was such a powerful dream that I not only logged it and sketched it in my dream journal immediately, but I later created a collage to reflect it in greater detail. This image shows the first sketch in my dream journal with the collage I made later below.
Rev. Johnson acknowledges the fear we experience when we wake up to ‘the call.’ Today, snakes are feared by many, yet historically and across cultures, snakes are symbols of transformation and healing – they shed their skin and become anew. Serpents play significant roles in creation myths across the globe and are connected to spirituality. Serpent power, mystic fire, and primordial energy live in the same realm. After my serpent-fire dream, I knew something was unfolding but it would take dedication to the inner work to make progress.’
Don’t be afraid of that which in you feels like it must be burned up, consumed, released. “Everybody wants to transform, but nobody wants to change,” she said. Rev. Johnson continued, “We can’t heal what we don’t feel.” Events in our waking lives and in our dreaming lives can deliver ‘the call’ as well as guide us in transformative journeys if we allow it. As we move forward along the path, we can reference the fire triangle to consider how we draw from the component of Heat, Fuel and Oxygen in order to keep the fire burning within. Without one of them, the fire dies.
You may recall the old reminder: What we resist, persists. So Rev. Johnson reminds us to keep our heart open and “stay engaged.” Everyone wants to spend time on the external, “but it’s the internal that we have to spend most of our time with,” she said. Even when we are called through vivid nocturnal dreams or unshakable waking life events, fear can cause us to turn away and deny, or resist it through a slew of numbing devices. To the contrary, it is by turning toward, staying present, and surrendering to ‘the call’ while trusting in a conscious loving multiverse that allows for us to live our most magnificent life and witness as our biggest dreams come true.
In love and transformation,