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Authenticity: The Alchemy of Living Free of Trauma

“Right action, borne of compassionate, spiritual wisdom, unites.” This is the core axiom of the Pachakuti Mesa Tradition. Distilled down, I see this as a path toward right relationship, not just with all our relations, but with our own selves as well. Right relationship requires that we know ourselves, know who we are called to be. If I am honest, I have struggled with the idea of ‘knowing’ myself, knowing my authentic self. I have struggled with what authenticity means for me, personally. It is a word used to describe something that is a true and faithful representation of what it is supposed to be.

Who are we supposed to be? Moreover, is it the same thing for us today as it was yesterday, or will be tomorrow? These are not simple questions, and there are no simple answers. If, however, we start with understanding why we are who we are, we can work our way back to who we are supposed to be.

In a very general sense, there are two key factors that contribute to who we are: nature and experience. By this I mean, we are born with nature imprinted in our genes but the world that we are exposed to through experience shapes what and how our nature adapts itself to our life needs, and the more stressful the experience, the more impact it has. Real or perceived threats to safety, security, relationship, and sustenance, for example, are all potential sources of life-changing stress, especially when we are children. This was certainly the case for me.

From a neurological perspective, significant breakthroughs in recent years show us exactly how traumatic levels of stress effect how our brains adapt and how these adaptations manifest in personality, behavior, relationships, and health, among other things. So, in a very real sense, we are who we are in large part due to the traumas we have experienced be they big or small, singular or repeated. The question remains, however, is this who we are supposed to be? If not, is it possible to be freed from the traumatic experiences that have shaped who we are so we can become who we are supposed to be?

In short, yes.  In fact, a resounding YES!

Yes, we can be free and exercise our innate potential to become more authentically who we are supposed to be. I am not saying this from a theoretical position, but from lived experience. I personally know this to be true. You see, I suffered a severe and life-threatening burn as a young child, which stole my sense of safety, security, and comfort. I walked much of my life as the David Jordan shaped by this trauma. I was anxious, angry, and insecure in my core relationships. Today, however, having done a great deal of transformative work, I walk as Burning Bear, a healer who has claimed the power of my past, who transmuted the hurt, the pain, the life altering suffering into a source of strength. Though some might jokingly disagree, I am far more calm, less anxious, learning to be secure in myself and my relationships. One might even say I am more ‘authentic’. This has been an alchemical transformation to be sure.

Now, of course, this did not and does not just happen. Many years of exploration and soul searching led me down a path toward healing, toward freedom. I had to step outside of being myself and embrace the power of becoming. This is the alchemy. This is the process sought after by so many mystic chemists over the ages of changing base materials into gold. Soulful alchemy is about re-membering into wholeness, about retrieving the parts of Self lost to trauma, and about the expanded consciousness that comes from bringing to the surface and integrating those base materials of Self buried deep within.

To do this, I began with a Jungian therapist, who had also apprenticed as a PMT shamanic practitioner. A powerful combination. Jungian Psychology is a process of psycho-spiritual healing where Self is restored to wholeness, called ‘Individuation’, based upon transformation through expanded consciousness. Similarly, shamanism could be described as a form of psycho-spiritual healing of Self through a restoration of wholeness derived from expanded consciousness. The therapist skillfully wove the two approaches together with the goal being to strip away the layers of psychic scarring and the residue of a wounded life so that the recovery of those lost and forgotten star-lit crystal gems of Self was possible. In other words, the way was made, is made, through intention and skilled ceremonial craft that integrates experiences such that what has been lost is restored.

At its heart, individuation is an alchemical process. By this I mean that it transmutes that which is disconnected into an entirely new connected whole, a new reality, a new Self. Jung called this the ‘Magnum Opus’. Though not directly drawn from Jung, this is what initiates of the Pachakuti Mesa Tradition also call ‘The Great Work’. This is the essence of our medicine. PMT is a medicine path of service with a vision of personal and planetary transformation, sourced from celestial guidance, whereby we co-create reality as participants in a collective dream.

If we properly align ourselves and allow it, the Mesa can teach us what it means to live authentically in a way that transcends diachronic time, and the experiences contained therein. The Mesa can reveal to us, through the interplay of the three worlds, the Hanaqpacha, Kaypacha, and Ukhupacha, who and what our true Self is, synchronically, the now and the eternal I AM. In short, when we draw from the Hanaqpacha the guidance of the Originating Mystery’s design for life, and then search for the aspects of Self lost to trauma held within the Ukhupacha, our consciousness expands and re-integration occurs, which makes wholeness possible here and now, in the Kaypacha. “Right action, borne of compassionate, spiritual wisdom, unites.” This, my friends, is alchemy and the path to authentic Self.

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