José Stevens PhD is an international lecturer, corporate team builder and organizational coach, consultant and trainer. A psychologist, licensed clinical social worker and author of more than twenty books and numerous articles, he is also co-editor for the Journal of Shamanic Practitioners and a board member. He is the founder, with his wife Lena, of the Power Path School of Shamanism and The Center for Shamanic Education and Exchange, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating youth in indigenous cultures. He has completed a ten-year apprenticeship with a Huichol Maracame in Mexico and has studied with the Shipibos of the Amazon and the Paqos of the Andes for the last thirty years.
In August of 2011 Lena and I decided to take a much needed short local vacation after months of hard work. Both of us were in great need of being in the great outdoors and doing something physical after months of Power Path events, writing, and seeing clients. We ventured out to Canyon de Chelly in Arizona, rented horses from a Dine man, and spent the day exploring the Canyon. It was great fun but by the end of six or seven hours of riding I had an aching back due to one of the stirrups being a little shorter than the other. After spending the night we were off to visit a friend in Telluride, hiked around the mountains, and rode our mountain bikes around local trails. The following day I decided to take my bike up the lift to ride down one of the mountain bike trails back into town. I went up with my daughter Anna and her husband Aaron and they decided to take a much longer trail. I was still tired and hurting a bit from the horse so I chose a shorter trail. The signs and maps were a bit confusing and soon I realized I was on a very steep expert trail that I was not qualified to be on. Too late! On my hair raising way down I fell off my bike twice but managed to get to the bottom without further incident. After a couple days of more activity we headed back to town just in time to do one of our programs on our land. The first day I was leading a chi gong exercise when I felt a little crunch in my left knee along with a sharp pain. After about an hour my knee had swollen up like a grapefruit and I could effectively no longer get around. I thought, “OH NO! A torn meniscus. How can that be? All I was doing was a little chi gong”.
People often confuse envy and jealousy. Envy is wanting what someone has and jealousy is wanting to possess someone all to yourself. With jealousy there is a feeling of ownership over the other person accompanied by a feeling or desire that they not show someone else attention, love, or affection. The jealous person feels that the object of their desire should show that attention, etc. only to them. If they think it is going elsewhere they feel enraged or overwhelmingly upset to the point where they feel they have to interfere or interrupt the activity. They may also accuse their love interest and try to punish them in a variety of ways, haranguing them, beating them, or giving them the cold silent treatment. In truly severe cases the jealous person may be imagining everything. In other cases their partner is in reality showing attention to others and may even be trying to make their partner jealous. Whatever the case, jealousy comes from a feeling of being deprived and a feeling of being overlooked or put down in favor of someone else. In other words jealousy indicates deep insecurity, lack of trust, and lowered self-esteem. Jealousy is a product of the dragon of self-deprecation, the fear of not being worthwhile.
A trip to visit our son Carlos brought my wife Lena and I to New York City in late November, 2011. He recently moved to Manhattan to work as the Creative Director of a computer design and animation company and we wanted to see where he worked and visit his apartment where we stayed for a few days. His apartment building on the West Side has a roof with a fabulous view of the entire city and we spent some time up there in the cold November wind getting to the know the city from that vantage point. Wall Street and the World Trade Center where Ground Zero is now being rebuilt and reshaped is a few subway stops away. Since he had to work all day for the first two days of our stay, we took the opportunity to ride trains and walk extensively throughout the city.
In early March 2012 I traveled to Real de Catorce, a tourist mining town in Central Mexico, arriving with a group of my shamanic students to do some ceremonial work in this high desert region. I have been going to Real for the last twenty five years and this was our annual pilgrimage lasting for several days. The town lies close to Mount Quemado, most sacred pilgrimage destination of the Huichol people, in the news recently because of a huge protest over an effort to mine the mountain by a Canadian mining company. Fortunately the protest was successful and the Mexican government issued a stay to all operations on Quemado.
After performing our ceremonies and prayers we always visit the Church of Guadalupe, a church that lies just outside the village, built in sixteen hundred by the Franciscans with indigenous labor. Although there is a large Catholic Cathedral in the center of town, I like to visit the little church because it was built by and for the indigenous people and therefore has unique qualities. It is situated with a view of Mount Quemado and is surrounded by a colorful and quite beautiful cemetery. Rather than Jesus hanging on the cross over the altar characteristic of most churches in Mexico, this church has a big picture of the Virgin of Guadalupe over the altar instead. Clearly it is a church dedicated to the feminine face of spirit rather than the masculine.
The smoke from several huge fires hung menacingly over the New Mexico horizon like a toxic shroud. The forests, still burning out of control, for a time threatened the Los Alamos nuclear labs with incineration. Other fires raged in Arizona consuming over half a million acres there while Texas burnt as well. In many parts of the country floods devastate the landscape, threatening a nuclear power plant, flooding huge tracts of homes and businesses. Few places are free of the threat of one kind of disaster or another. Times of purification are here.
Sometimes, even after doing everything right, Essence throws curves at us just to see how we will manage them. This is the tale of such a test and perhaps an example of one way of managing it along with lessons learned. After an extraordinary trip to Huallay, the stone forest in the Andes of Central Peru, my daughter Anna and I stopped in Guatemala for a reconnaissance trip, to do the pre-planning before taking our two year program group there to work with Mayan shamans. In Peru our group had worked with the Q’eros, the powerful Andean Paqos or shamans who we have been learning from. After a series of wonderful ceremonies at fourteen to fifteen thousand feet, we felt strong and filled with light. Our hearts were open and our sense of connection to Spirit was strong. So Anna and I figured we would bring this good foundation with us on our research trip to Guatemala.
Welcome to 2011. Dictators topple in Egypt and Tunisia, civil war breaks out in Libya, social unrest boils to the surface all over the Mideast, floodwaters drown towns and countryside from the United states to Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Australia, volcanoes erupt, and now a record breaking and devastating earthquake and tsunami strikes Japan. It is only mid March so fasten your seatbelts for there is much to come.
We have said that 2011 is a water year and certainly the element of water has been creating change everywhere. We also mentioned that water would be hot as we are seeing in the attempts to cool down the severely damaged nuclear reactors in Japan. Aggression is the mode for the year and as you can readily see, aggression is not limited to human expression but, because human emotion and Mother Nature are interconnected, severe aggression affects the intensity of earthquakes and tsunamis. Mather Nature is waking up and in her tossing and turning she will not be gentle. The environment itself will become aggressive because it is on the move and has much to shake up and rebalance.
Many of you have written requesting an explanation of the recent and ongoing events in Egypt. As of this writing Mubarek, the long term dictator of Egypt has been deposed and Egypt is under the temporary control of the military. Egyptians are ecstatic at their success in ousting the oppressive Mubarek regime that many have blamed for their poverty and oppression. While the Egyptians have been successful so far, no one knows what the final outcome will be because many similar revolutions in the past have failed to produce the freedoms that people sought. However, these are new times with probable new outcomes and results. Let us examine these stirring and world changing events in light of the trends forecast for 2011 and seek to understand it’s meaning for the entire world. I will begin by briefly listing the main characteristics for this year and then reviewing some of the year’s main themes.
My recent rather short eleven day trip to Vietnam was a much larger event than I could have imagined even though I knew that at some point in my life I was going to have to travel there for some completion. The trip was conceived of as both a family vacation and as a kind of pilgrimage to a land scarred not only by a war of my generation but from many past and present insults. Every once in a while my family likes to take a trip together that is not work related and so we look for interesting places we can go where air fares are bargains and this time it came up for Vietnam. My son Carlos needed a break from a heavy work schedule and the rains of Seattle as did his girlfriend Katie, and Anna, her husband Aaron, Lena and I all needed a break too from a long hard winter. So we arranged to travel together to Vietnam to get some southeast asian culture, some heat, and much desired time together. As a family we had a wonderful bonding experience and I am glad they were with me to support my own rather intense experience there.
Recently I returned from The lake Titicaca region in Bolivia and Peru, more alive than ever. This is the story of a miracle, but then, miracles have become the norm in my life. This is not to say I take these events for granted or that I am not amazed each time something like this happens.