A gunman has just killed 55  people by going on a shooting spree in a crowded gay night club in Orlando, Florida. This has been described as the worst mass shooting disaster in American history.

My heart goes out to all the people affected by this tragedy, their families and their communities. All of us face a loss when so many people lose their lives prematurely, in an act of senseless violence. Their talents and unique gifts are now lost the world. Incidents like this also feed the Demon of Fear: do we feel entirely safe going anywhere, with so many threats hanging in the air? The thought occurs that all of the people  killed today would have seen footage of the massacres in Paris and Brussels and thought: “I am so grateful this was not me”. So this issue truly concerns all of us. Life on Earth is not meant to be a game of Russian Roulette.

What can we say about this, other than lamenting another tragedy or cooking up more global rage against fundamentalist groups and gunmen or deluded suicide bombers acting in their name. Well… quite a lot, perhaps.

In my upcoming book NATURAL BORN SHAMANS: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life (date of publication is  August 26th) there is a chapter titled “Spiritual Warriors With Water Pistols”. I appreciate that the title may sound a bit frivolous in the context of today’s events but in that piece of writing I attempt to provide a serious spiritual perspective on war, terrorism and the innate human need for fighting. I am not going repeat myself here but I will make a few points:

Take a step back from the shock and outrage you feel just now seeing the footage and hearing the reports. Observe the vibration of your response exactly right now: is the reporting moving you into anger, fear or even hate? Is that going to help the situation in any way?

When we respond to any violent situation on the same level of consciousness, we add to the reservoir of violence held in our collective human consciousness. Take a moment to choose your response: what vibration (my youngest son would say: “What colour of the rainbow?”) do you wish to anchor and embody in this world? What response is this situation calling for? Are we as powerless as we (perhaps) feel right now??

I can come up with some suggestions: the more people beam compassion at this situation, the more this place is held in light and the more it receives an energetic invitation to shift mass consciousness. People with the right shamanic training could undertake to do psycho pomp work, once an appropriate interval of time has passed. The families affected by this will need loving support, a listening ear and quite possibly financial support long after a new tragedy takes center stage in the world press. (Yes, I will call a spade a spade!)

Now take another big step back. In the Western world we have freedom of speech and opinion and we have the free press. Most of us would fight to keep that privilege.  This is one of the reasons we feel so threatened by fundamentalist regimes. Observe how much attention this shooting gets. It is all over the papers, internet and TV. Beyond the need to know – what other energies do we detect in this mix? Are all of them honorable and in service to the situation?

Read for yourself how much is made of the fact that there were more victims than in any other shooting so far. (SO FAR?!) That makes this the worst massacre (of this kind) in American history. Let’s read that again…. Is there some competition in progress? Well, we don’t like admitting it, but of course there is!  Future gunmen and suicide bombers follow the media just as we do. Some will sit there doing the maths: to get this much coverage, I will  need to kill more than 55 people when my day comes…. – This is NOT a comfortable thought. Neither is the reflection is that people with jobs in journalism make money from disasters (and only rarely from happy events).  We are so much part of this that we choose to NOT see that every single one of us is a cog in a larger industry: the reporting industry, the media industry, the newspaper industry. This means that all of us together hold some collective responsibility for the next massacre that occurs. This is a sobering thought… I know.. perhaps it feels like a physical punch in the gut…. and it should!

While I am at it, another uncomfortable question: do we still think of the people who died in recent air crashes, on that beach in Tunisia, in Paris and Brussels? I think that perhaps we do, because those tragedies received huge coverage. Do we think of the children that died in war zones, of 14 year old soldiers and 12 year old prostitutes? Of the people dying in floods in Bangladesh or of famine in Somalia? Often it is tempting not to think too much about these things, because we can lose our will to live if we do.

My upcoming book is about four years of shamanic work with my shamanic group for children and teens called The Time Travellers. We once did a session titled Meet The Monster – All About Shadow Work. That title was chosen months in advance, but the session happened to be the day of the Sandy Hook shooting. I took the children through many exercises owning their own shadow (the hidden parts of ourselves we ALL have but only few of us admit to). The children went on a tough ride finding many shadowy aspects lurking in their own psyche. Ultimately this work is liberating: what becomes conscious loses the power to “bite our bottom unexpectedly, like  rabid dog”. By the end of the session I asked the group: “This session is called Meet The Monster: WHO IS THE MONSTER?!” All of them shouted ME! No one shouted the name of the school shooter. – RESULT!! PROUD TEACHER!!

If children as young as 7 years old can do this (and passionately) – all of us can do this inner work. If all of us do this – a huge paradigm shift will occur because of it.

One more thing to say…. I think we have all read about the young girl on holiday in Thailand who had studied tsunamis in school and recognized the signs when a very serious one was on the approach. This dramatic example illustrates something I wish to hammer on relentlessly: incidents like this are an invitation to all of us collectively to pay far closer intention to our intuition. This is not generally encouraged in our culture. Our focus is on science, rational thinking, evidence etc. We almost “beat” this natural function out of children by constantly asking them to make something else the dominant mode of functioning.

Night Clubs are places where people go to be “off duty”, drink, dance flirt. So no one is going to be on guard (other than the bouncers on the door). The thing is: we may be living in world in such great turmoil and transition that we cannot afford to live like that just now. Perhaps all of us are being asked to pay closer attention to our instincts, flashes of insight and the wisdom of our bodies.

One evening many years ago I went for an evening walk in Stockholm, where I lived at the time. I stopped to look at the window of a jewellery store. A man stopped too. He was doing absolutely nothing other than looking at rings and watches. Yet… my alarm bells started screeching: “This man has killed before and he is looking to kill again. GET MOVING!!” I have absolutely no evidence that I was right about this. There was no point alerting the police either. I made the quickest exit I could manage without showing fear and actually running. Nothing happened. – YET … until today I remain convinced that I was in danger that evening. (I was 24 years old at the time, half the age I am now).

The point I am trying to make is this: we all have an internal alarm system. It is perhaps more finely honed in some of us than in others. I know that growing up in a family where I never felt physically safe did fine tuned my “physical danger radar”. So perhaps a childhood full of violence saved my life? (Quite a thought that!) Or maybe it attracted that man in the first place. Both scenarios are perfectly possible. They may also be perfectly wrong!

The point I am trying to make is this: long before this man (I now refer to the shooter in Orlando) committed a massacre, he had friends/neighbors/colleagues/parents/siblings (perhaps), who could have chosen to “read the signs”. As this man approached the night club, he would have encountered people whose danger radar might have been in gear. Even inside any night club there will be a percentage of people with a better developed “risk radar” than “gaydar”. (Alcohol consumption obviously affects this ). Again: all of us collectively have a responsibility here: not to be too wrapped up in our own concerns, not to habitually ignore our instincts and intuitions, to find the courage to ACT on such hunches/hints and premonitions when they DO occur, and to do our shadow work – so other people out there do not need to embody and express our shadow material for us.

So… is there something we can learn from this? I think so.

Are there things ALL OF US can do in response to this? Very much so!!

Imelda Almqvist

Imelda’s book “Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life”, (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) will be published by Moon Books this summer.

Imelda Almqvist is a teacher of shamanism and sacred art based London UK. She teaches internationally. Her paintings can be found in art collections all over the world.

Imelda’s courses take place in the fertile place where art meets shamanism. The focus is on engaging in innovative ways with Mystery School material. Her 2 year sacred art practitioner training will run in Philadelphia in 2017/2018.

Imelda pioneered a shamanic program for young people called The Time Travellers. It offers safe group space for children and teenagers to develop a viable spiritual toolkit.

She will appear on the Shamanism Global Summit hosted by The Shift Network in July this summer and The Shift Network will also host Sandra Ingerman interviewing Imelda about her work with young people. (Those links have not yet gone live).

Imelda has three sons. She loves travelling, learning foreign languages, playing the cello and making short films. The most extreme thing she has ever done is assisting with eye surgery in a field hospital in Bangladesh! One of the most life-changing things she has ever done is teaching art and design  to slum children and teenagers in Lima, Peru.



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