My Ratatoullie

You were born to journey, like some of us were born to cook. One of my favorite Pixar movies, “Ratatouille”, covers this topic well. While not everyone will cook, anyone (even a rat) has the chance to. We may not all wake up with a new recipe for pumpkin gnocchi stuck in our heads (man, did that turn out good), but we can all follow a recipe – maybe even tweak it a bit, or at least slap together a sandwich.
We can also change our consciousness and learn to work with spirit in a multitude of ways. It just comes with the pulse, eating and everything else that makes up ‘human’. Though we may not know it, an awareness of the spirit world and our ability to immerse ourselves there, like happy rat chefs in a kitchen, is an essential ingredient in what makes us human.

Remy the Chef

When you practice shamanic techniques, or like me, teach workshops on them, you wind up facing a lot of the same issues the rat Remy struggled with.

  • “How can you be doing this work, what are you – the reincarnation of Pocahontas?” (You’re delusional because you secretly think you’re human – you’re not!)
  • “You can’t learn this stuff, you’re too white to be doing this.” (You’re a rat, not a person, you’ll never learn to cook! AKA only the French can cook.)
  •  “Thief! If you can do this its only because you’ve robbed oppressed people of something that was never yours to begin with!” (Maybe you can cook because you stole ideas for your cuisine from other cultures, but you don’t deserve to cook because you’re a thieving rat.)
  • “OK so you CAN work with the spirits, but you only know enough to get yourself and other people into trouble.” (Maybe you can cook, but I bet you’ll poison someone because you’re a rat.)

Mental patient, fraud, thief, or spiritual pariah,  pick at least two and go back to being just a rat.

It shouldn’t be surprising that these issues surround this kind of spiritual work, after all we’ve robbed ourselves and every other peoples we’ve come across of their ability to journey for centuries. Its hard to control people (especially your own) if individual spiritual revelation is readily at hand. Where would fast food chains be if everyone cooked their own food?
We know how to cook, we’ve just been taught so well how NOT to cook we can’t even imagine boiling water. From the outside, a shamanic journey must look as alien as a spice rack looks to a generation raised on fast food. Spirit world, nah – just pass me the Xbox and a bigger helping of cheeze whiz.
Much of the shamanic work I teach, spirit-wise peoples would probably consider to be basic spiritual self-care. Its the stuff your ancestors would have grown up around and taken for granted, like having a Mom who knew how to turn those leftovers into an incredible stew. While it represents a profound shift in perspective for us, for many others its what they had for lunch.
In the end Remy broke into the culinary world based solely on the excellence of his rendition of a peasant stew – Ratatoullie. The word “Pagan” derives from “peasant”, denoting the spiritual practices of country folk that included shamanic techniques we practice today. Like a peasant stew this work is deeply nourishing to many of us, awakening an Earth-bound love that can transform our world. The extra-ordinary is really the ordinary, the ordinary is extra-ordinary.
My goal, and that of others like me, is to reintroduce a visionary practice into our modern culture that can save lives, ease suffering and guide us in many of the ecological challenges we face. So if you’re ready to step out of the fast food line and back into the kitchen, check out the classes on the Foundation for Shamanic Studies website. The stove is hot, we’re ready to teach practices that feed your soul.

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