Natania generously shares her experience of a full personal ritual work cycle below, beginning with some history, and then describing the process of turning that into ritual work, and finally, "practice"—the ongoing new habits which support transformation. It is an interesting story for anyone, but also especially for those who have sensitive souls who on occasion can become "swamped" with feelings.
My name is Natania. I’m 27 years old, and I have always been a highly sensitive person . . . some might say a little "too sensitive." For me, this sensitivity can be a great blessing, and at times, a great curse. I use my high sensitivity in my healing work with others. It helps me to really feel, empathize, and be connected with another—which is great for healing work! When I'm out in the world however, just doing regular things, I found I couldn't turn this sense off and it would ruin many every day activities. I'd find myself shutting out, shutting down, and retreating into a safety net, and not being the fullest I could be. I had done a lot of subconscious work on this trying to overcome my fear and sensitivity but something was missing.
The sensitivity has been with me as long as I can remember. In elementary school, when my best friend was hit by a ball, I felt it in my gut. One time at a store, all of a sudden I felt dizzy, and when I went to the cash register the clerk at the checkout was about to pass out. That, and other similar experiences, made me feel like I was picking up on other people’s emotions and feelings. In my teens, people would tell me very personal stories and share their grief. Sensitivity can have a bad side of leaving you vulnerable. Because I realized I was such a magnet, I went to study healing work.
During my training, other students and the clients were sometimes scared of me when I could so easily see past their protective masks and into their vulnerabilities. The second year of training, which was called “the year of the shadow,” we studied our own ancestry, where I learned about my challenges with ”abandonment.” The third year, school taught me how to shut down, but at the cost of cutting off my sensitivity. I had learned that in fact we are not separate, because we are all made of water, and we are in contact all the time, but not everyone is aware of it. Eventually, my education led me to an interest in doula work and sacred birthing, because I realized that in some ways such trauma stems from the birthing process, and then gets reflected in our lives as the “script” repeats and unfolds.
For a time, I went through a phase of being shut down enough that I could open up again to the world’s energy without being affected. But it didn’t really work that way—the sensitivity came back ever stronger, giving me a sense of anxiety, fear, and panic.
Even with all this training, I was in a dark time—I felt like I was drowning in sorrow, in a black pit. The smallest thing could trigger me. I could even feel upset because I could feel the anguish of where my food was raised. Eating chicken at a restaurant could make me cry. It left me feeling defeated. I felt like I would never be able to move forward in my life because the sensitivity issue would always come up and immobilize me. [Photo MichaelJulianBerz.com]
I was in crisis, and I shared some of the details with Randy and also related some of my very vivid dreams. Deciphering the symbolism from the dream imagery told Randy what we needed to do next. He suggested, with his typical sense of humor, an “anti-over-grieving-protection-strengthening-healing-ritual-for-a-too-sensitive-cryer-healer-person.” He knows how to make the link between imagery and experience, and craft a unique ritual catered to the person and the situation.
When we met up, right away he brought in the idea of working with the elements, especially water and fire. As a person with a lot of sensitivity and grief, it was like I was always drowning in the water of my tears, and not so strong in my association with fire.
During the ritual process, we communicated with the unseen world, confronting some of my uncomfortable fears. We burnt sticks in the fire that we had gathered from the forest. Each one represented a time in my life where I felt something attack me, or an energy draining me. The night after we did that I had a dream in which Randy and I were at the beach. In the dream, I went into the water and leeches started sucking on my feet. I screamed and asked Randy to help me take them off. He took off one leech, and made me do the rest of them. I felt empowered and did so. When I woke up from the dream, I knew it was symbolic of the sticks we had burnt the night before, which represented the energy that was sucking the life out of me.
Even though it is challenging to work in this way, telling the full truth of inner feelings, Randy makes it safe for things that need to be spoken. He shares his own expression, accepts and holds the space for my own anger and sadness to come out. There are not a lot of places in the world where you can do that. He not only accepts those feelings, but actually encourages them to come out so that we can be more of who we are.
As well as learning to work with fire, I also needed to learn how to work with “ice” and being able to stop or freeze my sensitivity when I wanted, needed, and decide to. As part of the ritual work, I embodied the ice energy and welcomed it in as a friend. The next day it was a blessing when I woke up to find snow on the ground, knowing that the transformation was complete. It made me feel like the spirits were finally listening, seeing in reality that idea Randy talks about—communication between the human world and nature and the dream world.
I was so excited, and felt so relieved that finally I would be able to have my life back, and not be tortured by vampire-like energies that were sucking the life out of me. I knew then that this work had changed my deep subconscious beliefs.
Now, I feel stronger, I don’t have to worry when I go out. I was surprised when I was able to go out, and feel safer in the world. If things do come up around me, I am able to walk by, say a prayer, notice it, and notice the energy, but not feel attacked by it.
The strong part of ritual work is the communication with the elements and the dream world. If there is a “down side,” it is that I also have to keep my practices in order to keep the strength I have found. It is a lifestyle change, gathering my protection before I go out in the world. It takes an ongoing responsibility and awareness.
Randy's work helped me reclaim my contact with this physical world in a new way . . . a way that made it safe for me to engage in the world and not feel overwhelmed. Through working with the elements I developed a new relationship with them. The ceremonies helped me become more grounded, feel freer, and regain a deep connection with spirit in matter. I am forever grateful and in awe at the magic that occurred. It was a pinnacle point in my return to balance and joy. Thank you Randy!
Natania Rogers, Integrative Energy Healer and Sacred Birthing Doula
[Photos Thankyou MichaelJulianberz.com and Rohaan Daroowala]