Today’s card is the Bone Collector (nothing to do with the film) and it is quite a striking card with the old lady sitting crosslegged on the ground, her silver white hair like a halo around her head, and skulls hanging from the trees. There is a clock by her right hand side, which to me looks rather like a drum, and a hare on the other side. In fact she has the overall bearing of a wise old medicine woman or shaman and to me this card is very powerful.
Here’s what the book says:
You are whole and have everything you need within. When the Bone Collector appears, she is asking you to look closely at your circumstances to see if you’re fully present or reacting out of past conditioning and unconscious expectations. Whenever we’re wounded, especially when we’re young, it’s as if something essential is stolen from us. We adapt, and accept a particular version of the truth that then sets us up to behave a certain way in the future when faced with a situation that reminds us of the original event. What we know about ourselves thus becomes influenced by a perception of limitation.
You may feel unworthy or without courage; you may see yourself as flawed or unlovable, or expect to be criticized. No matter what your question, the Bone Collector reminds you that the truth is that you are a powerful being with limitless possibilities. She has kept safe what was stolen from you in the wounding, and is here for you to reclaim it now. You have everything you believe you lack, and the Bone Collector is your inner resource. Act as if you have what you need and you’ll find you have it after all. Anything is possible. With awareness, the wounds of the past need not define you.
In shamanism it is said that when traumatic events happen in the past, especially in childhood and formative years, a part of the soul splits off and goes into hiding. One of the tasks of a Shaman is to perform a ‘soul retrieval’ to return the split off part and return it so that the whole soul can operate and healing can take place for the wounded person. It’s been hard for me because I have never had this performed on me, I’ve had to do it myself and that has meant many shamanic journeys, not all of which have been pleasant. Moreover, because of my past traumatic experiences, I have also had (and am still having) conventional therapy, which is helpful to a degree. But what really counts is the work you do on yourself. However, we have to begin with a realisation that defining ourselves by our past experiences no longer works for us – in my case the event of the past have lead to mental health difficulties, which do still plague me to a degree even today. I say ‘to a degree’ because over the past few years through my shamanic practice and working with the Spirits, and also therapy, I am largely in a place now where I can cope on a day to day basis.
However, yesterday I had one of those magnificent lightbulb moments (don’t ya just love ’em) where I decided to refuse to be defined by my mental health problems any more and the experience was so wonderfully free-ing. Yes, I still have troubles and bad days but I’m not ‘mentally ill’ and refuse to be defined as such. Defining oneself, I’ve discovered, is so limiting and just perpetuates the past experiences and so closes down all possibilities for healing and wellness, as well as opportunities for a better life.
Of course becoming non-defined by anything takes a bit of effort and desire on your part. Sometimes it is easier to remain in the unhelpful position because that’s what feels most comfortable and if I’m really honest it also takes away a bit of responsibility from you for your own recovery and wellness. Moving from the known to the unknown is a challenge to be sure, and usually an uncomfortable one at that but with it also comes so much more in the way of possibilities and opportunities to shape your life the way you want to, not the way someone else in the past has shaped it. The journey is empowering believe me!
It doesn’t happen overnight either and why should it? After all it’s taken you years of looking at your yourself in a certain perspective to have these problems, so it’s going to take a while to change that perspective isn’t it. Don’t expect miracles but also believe that things will shift…they WILL! The more you CHOOSE to define yourself how you want to, the more second-nature it becomes. It’s going to feel awkward at first and sometimes you might feel you’re on the losing side but don’t be dissuaded. Even well meaning professionals can sometimes perpetuate old thinking habits. but that doesn’t mean you should turn your back on the support if you need it. And that goes for medication too – I take certain medications and they keep me stable. Why should I refuse something that helps me? I suppose one could say that by continuing to take them I am still defining myself as mentally ill but I don’t see it that way. I haven’t said I DON’T have mental health difficulties, I’ve just stated that I CHOOSE not to define myself by them. There is a difference.
Perhaps this post is slowly turning into an advocacy rant, which I don’t want it too. Suffice to say that the card today, the Bone Collector, shows us that we really do have the capacity to resist defining ourselves by the past and to define ourselves in a way that is more healthful and helpful.