Many years ago, Agnes Whistling Elk and I were talking about how difficult it is for people to take their own power in today’s world. I was looking at all of the pragmatic aspects of our complicated modern world, trying to understand where the individual might actually fit in amid all of the chaos and confusion with which we surround ourselves, the demands on our time that are unreasonable by anybody’s standards. Agnes always says that people were never intended to live with the amount of stress that we face in today’s world, yet here we are.
Agnes wasn’t having any of it. She simply looked at me in that way that she does, and she said, “If you speak to a person who is standing in a powerless position and ask her to take her power, she becomes frightened. She becomes frightened because you are implying change. She must take a step into the mystery of the unknown to become powerful.”
There is great truth and great understanding of modern human nature in what she said. We are frightened of the unknown because it has become so unfamiliar to us. We have become so frightened of the unknown that we would rather languish amid all of the stresses of our lives than step outside of the chaos and look at what other possibilities exist.
Why is it that we have grown so afraid of the unfamiliar, especially when much of what is “familiar” is exactly what is blocking us in life?
What has happened to the great human spirit of discovery and invention that has brought so much good into our world?
These are not questions that anyone can answer for you. They are questions you must answer within yourself. Then, when you find yourself standing in a powerless position, you will know what you must change in order to become powerful in your life.
It is fundamental to the shamanic world view that power is born from the unknown. If you sit in front of Stonehenge or the great pyramids of Egypt, you understand that you are in the presence of great power, power that comes from an unknown source, yet power that is as undeniable as it is mysterious.
But you don’t have to travel to Stonehenge or Egypt to find the mysterious world of the power that already resides within you. All you have to do is become willing to venture into the unknown wilderness of your very own self, the place within where your own personal truth resides. This is the place where you are one with the Great Spirit and all of life, and what a tragedy it is for the world that it is so unfamiliar to us.
When I first found Agnes Whistling Elk and Ruby Plenty Chiefs – and through them the other women of the Sisterhood of the Shields – I was filled with fear. In the beginning, I so desperately wanted change, but it was the thing I feared the most. I was terrified of the unknown. As my training progressed, it became imperative that I lose this fear, that I learn how to grow beyond it and stop using it as my crutch and excuse for staying stuck in a life I did not want. My teachers showed me that if I would become willing to let go of my fear of the unknown, I could move into the sacred mystery, where the miracle of existence emerges from the darkness and transforms us into the higher spirituality that we so urgently want.
When you are ready to bring much-needed change into your life, you discover that it is all a matter of perspective. You can choose to see change either as something to fear or as something to embrace, a gateway to discovering the seeds of success, harmony and your own potential that are already within you. If you want to change, you must look at your fear of change for what it really is: Your own self-imposed limitations. I certainly had those self-imposed limits when I first embarked on the pathway of shamanic discovery. What a huge change that presented to me!
In order for my work with my teachers to be successful, I was forced to change how I saw myself and what I could really do in life. I had to go within myself and challenge all of my notions about living. If I thought I couldn’t do something, that was exactly the thing that my teachers demanded I do. I had to change from someone who wanted power to a woman who was ready to take my own power. In the process, I learned that if you want to have power in your life, you must make a place within you for power to live. You do that by letting go of your fear of power, letting go of your fear of the unknown, letting go of your fear of change. As long as you are holding onto fear, there really isn’t room for much else.
Power is something that you build through having faith in yourself. When you back away from your power, as I did so often when I began working with the Sisterhood, what you are really doing is expressing a total lack of faith in your own capacity. But how will you ever know what you are truly capable of doing until you take the risk and try?
As you move toward fulfilling your own capacity, you find that you move toward embracing change. That is when you step into the mystery of the unknown, simply by doing something you didn’t think you could do.
What are you sitting on in your life that means more to you than everything else, that you are terrified, perhaps, of even acknowledging as possible? Take a really good look at all you have already done in your life. You will be amazed at what you have been able to accomplish just by putting one foot in front of the other and getting done the things you needed to do. Look at all of the changes you have already faced and embraced in life. Then you can recognize that change is only frightening when you stand on the edge and do nothing.
If you want to move forward in your life, use the strength you have gained and what you have learned about yourself from what you have already accomplished and let them energize you for the changes you are about to make. Then you can replace your fear of change with your passion for what you want to accomplish and become a person of true power.