As is often the case with shamanic practitioners, a significant life challenge inevitably arises, that takes us through what is referred to as a “dismemberment” or “small death passage”. My dismemberment initiation began in late August of 1982, when I was faced with a serious health crisis. Until then, I had taken my physical body for granted, always being extremely active, athletic and physically strong. It was humbling and disarming when my first debilitating symptoms began to appear. Within a few days, I was diagnosed with a serious central nervous system disorder and was hospitalized. It was an unsettling time, during which I had to totally let go of all preconceived notions of who and what I had ever thought myself to be. I surrendered to the mystery, fully embraced each moment and stayed present to the reality of my physical body literally, “dismembering”, so to speak. I can still clearly recall the surreal conversation I had with the neurologist, as he informed me that I had an acute debilitating neurological disease that would most likely lead to a rapid decline and my eventual early death. He also said that “all hope is false hope”, and advised me not to have children. It was surreal. Working hard not to fall into a tunnel of fear, as I listened to his dire prognosis; another wise part of me remained powerful, strong, detached and objective. As my spirit, essence, “inner warrior” listened, I remained acutely conscious of the fact that I had a choice in that moment. I could allow his authoritative pronouncements to create my reality and determine my future health; or surrender to spirit, tap into my healing powers, spirit guides and helpers, and heal work to myself. I was deeply conscious of the fact that if my thoughts and beliefs had actually created my present physical reality, then I also had the power to re-create and re-embody the healthy, vibrant person I had always known myself to be. Looking back, I know this was a deep ” initiation” onto my path as a shamanic practitioner; that I was being called and prepared to step into the fire and “walk my talk. All I could do was let go, absolutely, of any “attachment to an outcome”, trust and surrender to the mystery. Creating a strong intention, dreaming myself back into health, taking “right action and being proactive, was deeply empowering, no matter the outcome. There was a great serenity and peace in knowing that all I could to do was love and accept myself, exactly as I was, take the next right step, and follow the guidance of my spirit, and trust. When I returned home from the hospital my inner work began in earnest. A lifetime interest in spiritual, non-ordinary inquiry, readings, study and practice had prepared me well. Whenever family or friends asked what they could do to help, I invited them to join me in my daily meditations and visualize me in perfect, vibrant health. Though my exhaustion was over-whelming, I continued to meditate three times daily, as I had promised myself. It was a deeply inspiring and beautiful time of awakening. Enveloped in an aura of love and healing energies, I was acutely aware of spiritual helpers and guides assisting me. It was a powerful, pivotal time during which I opened to my natural gift of “sight” and began to awake spiritually as a “medicine dreamer”. I literally heard that spoken to me upon waking one morning to describe my kind of healing work; a kind of “dreaming healing” on a cellular level. I visualized or “dreamed”, thousands of cells rebuilding and healing the scarred areas throughout my central nervous system. I continued my daily meditations, often joined by friends and family, either in person or from a distance. My discipline and support kept me inspired and moving from “right action” sourced from my essence. As I opened to the mystery and the realms of spirit that illuminated my inner life, dimensions beyond the world of form became more easily accessible. Aside from the physical discomforts and challenges I was experiencing on so many levels, I still recall it as one of the most enlightening and spiritually inspiring periods in my life. Soon people began to hear about my healing experiences and started asking me to work with them, their friends and/or families. Word spread, and my healing practice began to grow. I don’t clearly remember when I actually became completely symptom free. I raised 2 wonderful, healthy children, now ages 27 and 31, and have been active and healthy for over 3 decades. Over time, I’ve come to see physical symptoms and imbalances as “soul mirrors”, doorways in to our inner selves, our true essence. In the end, who really knows what the deepest “meaning” of anything is? I believe that all we can do is fully commit to our journey and take “right action” to empower ourselves as best we know how, moment by moment. Humility, self-love and healing arise from an unfaltering acceptance of our present circumstance, within and without. A deep introspection and honest inquiry as to the mysterious lessons beckoning us to consciousness allows “the mystery” to reveal itself.