Perceptual States


I just returned from two weeks in Joshua Tree. It has been a place of transformation for me this past year.  The desert provides the perfect environment for deep reflection and change.  While there, I sat with various plants of the desert, and they proved to be profound teachers!

The shaman uses different perceptual states to track, or see, the world.

The four states are:

  • the literal
  • the emotional
  • the mythic/soul
  • the energetic/spirit.
Here is the teaching from the joshua tree, using each of the four perceptive states:


Stubby-branched, strong trunk, with scant starburst needle-like foliage.  Standing like a desert sentinel, rigid, inflexible, that only slightly yields to the wind.  The needles draw blood.


Serious, no nonsense, well-defended, proud, receptive, radically alive, unpretentious.  Willing to produce sharp pain if not approached with care.


Ancient wisdom stored within.  A Master Teacher of survival skills, able to pierce through illusion and lies.  A truth teller, eviscerates mindlessness.  Harsh teacher/disciplinarian, standing alone, while giving shelter to the very small; protector of the defensless.  Keeper of the Wisdom.


Infinity.  Circle of Life.

Barbara Swift, - Integrative Wellness and Life Coaching. Energy Medicine ~ Shamanic Healing

The Message/Teaching

You can thrive in any conditions.  Shed the fear of the barbs others may throw.  Be real, be authentic, in your own truth.  Drop the egoic need for agreement.  And don’t be afraid to sting, only if necessary.

Next time you’re in by yourself out in nature, you may want to look around, get quiet, be in stillness; then see if there are messages from the natural world.  You may find that the rocks, the plants, the waters, the sky will speak to you!

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