I learned I was clairsentient. I learned I could run energy. I learned that spirit guides rode motorcycles. Sometimes.
But to what end? Where was it all leading? I had not a clue.
Until I found my Shadow Door. My closed Shadow Door.
And I knew. I knew "it all" was leading to that door. I knew the "end" was to open it.
Knowing this, I did what used to come oh-so-naturally to me. I made a plan. A very Type-A plan to open my Shadow Door. Or, rather, a plan to prepare myself to open my Shadow Door. Because, face it, you don't just trundle down the steps into the cellar of your subconscious and start fiddling with the lock(s) on your Shadow Door, do you? No! You have to be prepared! And what are we Type-A's all taught that "prepared" means? Why, it means leaving nothing to chance (funny thing conditioning, huh?). Thus, my plan wasn't only a Type A plan. It was a belt and suspenders plan.
And it was beautiful. Really quite impressive. It had anything you could possibly need to prepare to open your Shadow Door.
It had an altar. My first. With a few very deliberate things placed in very deliberate ways. On a table I bought just for the occasion. From Target. For $15.
It had music. Which was a no-brainer, because everything in my life includes music. In this case, the soundtrack was Sigur Ros's album Takk.
It had prayers. Prayers to the Shadow. Prayers that I said at precisely the same time for precisely the same number of minutes. Every day. Prayers that summoned my inner Diana Ross to tell the Door, the Shadow, "I'm Coming...."
It had a spirit guide. A new one (now that Claude was gone). His name was St. Germain. In the years since he first appeared beside my desk, I have learned that St. Germain is a spiritual master of Theosophical teachings. I have learned that he shares his name with an elderberry liqueur that tastes really awesome atop an unspeakably dry gin martini. But, back then, I just knew that, like Claude, St. Germain was silent. That he had piercing, intense eyes (think Vincent Price, a nice Vincent Price!). And that he liked the color purple. A lot.
It had offerings. I can't remember where, but I had read somewhere that Shamans made offerings to their ancestors on special occasions. Opening your Shadow Door sure seemed like a special occasion. So I made offerings to the only ancestors I could think of: my grandmother, my grandfather and, of course, my great-grandmother Lily who had been the one to tell me I was a shaman in the first place. Every morning, after my husband left for work, I'd make an offering of marshmallow cream to my grandmother, Le Sueur peas to my grandfather and, because I didn't really know what she liked, strawberries to Lily. I made these offerings in the flower bed that bordered the patio of my garden-level townhouse in Boston. Which meant that, when it came to my plan to prepare....
It also had rats. Big rats. City rats. City rats that were oh-so-grateful to find the garden of some fool who put out marshmallow cream, Le Sueur peas, and strawberries as an offering to his dead ancestors. Every day. For weeks.
Now, I had never seen these rats (though I did wonder why my Scottie, Tyra Banks, had suddenly become so transfixed by the garden). Until one day, Jill Leigh and I were sitting on the downstairs couch in session. Jill was just about to teach me a really cool merging meditation (merging and Shadow Doors go together, dontcha know!). My eyes were closed, my feet flat, my body relaxed as Jill soothingly started explaining how the meditation worked.
"We're going to go up to the eleventh chakra," Jill explained. "And then we're going to....Chrrrriiiiiiist! You have rats, RATS!!!"
Well, that made me open my eyes. And turn my head to face the garden where, sure enough, there was a rather plump little rat scurrying across the patio. With marshmallow cream on his whiskers (and I'm sure Lesuer peas between his teeth).
"Oh yeah," I said matter-of-factly. "I'm leaving offerings to my ancestors."
"Are you insane?" was all Jill could stammer out.
As Jill tried to calm her hyperventilation, I explained the whole rationale behind my offerings. Finally, after asking that we switch places on the couch so she could face the kitchen and not the garden, Jill said, "Look honey, it's the intent behind the offering that counts, not necessarily the offering itself. Your ancestors are spirits. They'll get it. Plus, do you really think your grandmother wants some rat running off with her marshmallow cream?"
Jill had a point. Actually, several.
So, for a few days, I started placing the offerings on my altar at night. But then I realized this might encourage the rats to take the party inside (which would cause my husband to put me outside). So, by the end of the week, I had nixed the "food as offering" thing altogether.
I started writing messages to my ancestors instead. Messages that I'd roll-up and leave on my Target altar. Messages that asked for a sign as to when I was ready. Ready to open my Shadow Door.
Weeks later, it was my grandfather who replied. With the same two words I had heard six months earlier: "It's time."
And there wasn't a belt or a suspender that could save me.