I had the most amazing experience today!
I turned to a picture of a medicine man and his wife standing beside their "medicine tipi." It was painted red, and there were symbols drawn on the front of it.
He smiled at me and invited me in. I went into the tipi and was immediately struck by the smells - rich and thick - of skins and herbs, smoke and dirt. There was a small central fire pit encircled by round stones, bags and stuff hung from the sides.
We sat across from one another and he lit his pipe and passed it to me.
At this point, I questioned the validity of what I was seeing, saying "Wouldn't there be talk and other protocol before the pipe?"
He smiled and waved his hands as if to brush my doubts aside and said, "We meet here in the dream world. I do what I want here. If I say we smoke - we smoke."
And so we smoked the pipe and I wondered about smudge and sage, but there was none in evidence, so I let that go.
Then he had me lie down. He then put a thick white paste on my forehead and either he said, or I knew, that this was for better seeing. He put a big lump of something dark that seemed like clay or moist earth on my heart, and I could feel it pulling the toxins out of my body right away.
My hands were at my sides and he turned them, palms down, so that they rested on smooth round stones. I felt that this was to keep me grounded.
He uncrossed my ankles and proceeded to sing songs and blow smoke and sometimes spit, or blow some kind of liquid at me. Then I had this feeling of being strangled, not real intense, but still pretty clear.
And I saw that a hangman's noose was around my neck and I saw my body being pulled up to hang from the top of the tipi.
The medicine man pulled me down, and now there was, in addition to the noose, a white cloth bag over my head, like muslin. Later, I wondered if I was accessing a previous life memory of being hanged. In the moment, I was just interested and curious about this turn of events.
The medicine man worked quickly to untie the knotted rope which he then threw into the fire. It flared up and sizzled and then turned into a snake and slithered away.
He then pulled the cowl off my head and threw it into the fire - it took the white paste on my forehead with it and when it hit the flames it blazed up and a flock of black birds (crows?) flew out.
Around my neck there were still the ligature marks, and it occurred to me that maybe my eyes were bugged out as well.
The medicine man reapplied the white paste and then went to work carefully peeling the marks off my neck, but it was slow going as they kept reappearing. Finally he took a kind of sponge soaked in some sort of healing liquid, and what he did was roll the ligature marks up a little at a time. Then he'd swab behind it and the skin would heal.
As he was working, I realized that the soil or clay on my chest had burnt and was shrivelled, dry, and black. The medicine man stopped what he was doing with my neck, and took the charred earth and threw it into the fire where it flared and sizzled and then transformed into a number of dark spiders which scurried away.
He put another mound or earth on my chest, and then went back to working on my neck, peeling the ligature marks off and swabbing behind, going slowly, making sure the flesh was healing. When he came to the front of my throat, there was a hole underneath, out of which flew a big swarm of screaming butterflies. The screaming wasn't audible, but it was understood. Very weird.
He looked in the hole to see if "everyone" was out, and back in a far dark corner was a frightened, big eyed, skinny being. He (the medicine man) said, "Do you belong here?"
Both the being and I said, "Yes." simultaneously. I did not want him to pull her out, nor did she wish to leave. Whoever she was, she was clearly malnourished and scared, having been hiding in dark corners for so long.
The medicine man unrolled the ligature marks just enough to cover the hole and then he started working on the other side. It was really odd, watching the marks on my throat, which looked like bruises and shrivelled skin being rolled up just like masking tape. He worked slowly rolling and swabbing the skin underneath, making sure the new skin healed before moving on.
Finally he had both sides rolled up, and it looked like a scroll stuck there on the front of my throat. I had a fleeting thought, wondering what might be written on it, and I knew that to unroll it and read it would be to undo all the work thus far.
With a flourish, the medicine man pulled the scrolled up ligature marks and tossed them into the fire. It melted into a whitish worm shape and crawled away. He then reached a finger into the hole and pulled that dark skinny big eyed being up to the light.
Again, he asked, "Do you belong here?"
Again, the answer was, "Yes."
And he said, "Well, OK then, but it's time you occupy the space in a good way. Build a fire, make yourself comfortable, go hunting, and feed yourself properly."
When he said, "Go hunting." I had a momentary vision of a warrior in full regalia mounted on a winged war horse. It occurs to me now that the hunting wasn't just for food and nourishment, but for power as well.
The medicine man then showed the being how to travel to and through the heart and how to see out of the third eye. I had some qualms about it at this point, was I really sure I wanted this dark skinny almost gollum-like creature to remain within me?
But, it didn't seem right to evict her either, and it occurred to me that this must be a deeply neglected, thoroughly repudiated part of my self. I also wondered about allowing her to move through my heart - worried this might cause "damage" or "leakage" of some sort.
And I was reassured with a knowing that this part of me needed to be fully expressed with heart and vision, not just spoken or verbalized in a superficial way.
The medicine man worked with that dark spirit to rebuild the hole in my throat, building it out of living tissue so that it was a "real" fix, not a temporary patch.
When that was complete, I had a realization of who that newly empowered part of me is. And almost as soon as I "knew" it, I "forgot" what I knew. Interesting... huh?
With that completed, the medicine man turned his attention to the lump of earth on my chest. As he pulled it off, it was as if a dark netting or web was pulled out of me. It felt really good to have that ripped out, like an "aahhh" and my whole body relaxed. He tossed it into the fire and there was a huge explosion. Kaboom! There was thunder and lightning and stars. The inside of the tipi turned a dark indigo and the stars and the lights settled into it so that it looked as if it had been painted to resemble the night sky.
He took the rocks from under my hands and placed them just inside the circle of stones that ringed the fire pit. They turned red as they heated and purified.
He then painted the soles of my feet red, and told me that I would/could now walk the "good red road."
He moved to my head and pulled off the white paste. It flared up into red and orange flames when it hit the fire. Then he proceeded to wrap me up in a cocoon of light. As soon as he was done, my eyes spontaneously opened - and I knew it was complete.