• Sherri Phibbs

Genesis of a Soul on Fire

Updated: Aug 16, 2019

An excerpt from my forth-coming 2nd book, "The Accidental Shaman, 42 Steps to Awakening"


Be careful what you ask for. An old maxim that honestly should be in quotes, caps, and flashing lights. There should have been a warning label. A sign would have made all the difference in the world.



You see, I prayed. Prayed for the path to be clear, to know definitively what SHOULD BE DONE NEXT. A change was needed, in career, in corporation, indicated by challenges to mind, to body. But, I hesitated. Out of fear of making the wrong choice, I hesitated to take the step. A half-hearted attempt, a sop to the idea of change, an application made for a position in another department, but still that request for help hung in the air.



There should have been a warning label. Change hit me head on, like a white panel van running a stop sign. The next months were a blur of pain, major life changes and post traumatic stress syndrome. The path was clear. Focus on healing.


Traditional medicine treated the symptoms, yet the pain persisted. I tried energy healing, reiki, sound healing, Chinese herbs, sweat lodge, cranial sacral, healing touch. All worked to a degree, but always the pain returned, the root cause unhealed. Unable to sit at a computer for more than an hour at a time, I had become accidentally career-less, but I had clarity. I definitively knew what to do next. Retrain for something else.


Making the most monumental decision of my life, I decided to follow where I was drawn, what my senses told me was right for me. Not what fit within the titles, the labels that I wore, or even what fit within the labels and expectations placed on me by others. Instead, paying attention to the clues, the whispers, the hints, that the world was sending, I followed.


In essence, I let go of what I thought I should do, and just went with it. "It" being the nudges from the universe. Very out-of-character, and way outside the comfort zone. It bordered on woo-woo, and if you read my last blog post, An Accidental Vision Quest, you'll understand how big a change that truly was.


Like any good plot twist, strange things began to happen. Strange things that sparked a fit of genetic archaeology, and an acceptance and integration of heart, soul and DNA. I reconnected with those thought lost forever, on startlingly significant dates, with love. New perspectives on life-long 'hobbies' arose, and the training began.


​Art therapy! Woo-hoo! Then, what is eco-psychology? And muscle memory and shamanic practices, how do those relate? Which takes us back to that genetic archaeology, and so on. Everything interwoven and organic. Everything falling into place. And then it happened, in a windowless basement studio.




What would your Soul look like if it were a painting? A training exercise in dealing with grief. Paint it, then wipe it back to white and start over. Oh, no! With a capital "no". Following my gut, there was an explanation, a demonstration about the stages of grief, and an already visceral understanding of this process.









All good. The painting stays. As is. That's when the magic started to unfold. The class critique, and loving comment:

"I could sit and look at that forever."

"How peaceful."

"I'd buy that!"


Yet, something nagged. I asked my husband, my family "What do you see?"

"A fire coming over the mountain!"

"Gorilla-face mountain!"

"A dragonfly!"

Ok. That was more like it. More me at the time.

And so, "Soul On Fire" was born. A painting of my soul. A soul in transition. Transformation. Change. You see where this is going? I thought I did. Until I followed where I was drawn one afternoon. Out of the blue. A whisper on the edge of my consciousness ... go to Chapters.


Go ahead, laugh. Honestly, it sounds like a whim to shop. I tried to ignore it, no need to go there. The feeling grew stronger. So, I went. Standing in the foyer, feeling very awkward and thinking, "now what", was an interesting experience. Deciding to walk around and just see, I was drawn to my favourite section, murder mysteries and romance. Right next to the "new age philosophy" section.


Woo-woo stuff! It just kept getting better. :-(



There, facing outward on the shelf exactly at my eye level, was a book titled ... you guessed it! Soul On Fire. I bought the book. It was written by a shaman who had been featured on Ripley's Believe It or Not. Go figure. He offered apprenticeships. So I signed up. In for a penny...





Yep. I learned to speak woo-woo, while I was simultaneously learning to speak science through eco-psychology, now called organic psychology. My final in-person training with this shaman was an incredible week in the red rock canyons outside of Sedona, AZ. We did healing work, learned and practiced.


At one point, while working on me; he asked if I had pain in the middle of my back. Just there, as he touched a spot between my shoulder blades, the center of the severe chronic pain since the car accident. Of course, I figured it must affect my posture, looking for a way to rationalize. Then he told me a story, what he saw while doing the healing work.



"You have a spear sticking in your back. You were the leader of your people and you carry in your soul the guilt of their deaths. You went to make peace talks with an old adversary, taking all your family and people with you. You were betrayed and everyone was killed."




He removed the spear and my back felt better. Not healed completely, but better. So how does this connect to Soul On Fire? Well, there was this reporter a few years later, who wanted an interview. That was cool, so we talked. I showed her the painting and related the story of the book, the shaman, the healing.


She had been looking very thoughtfully at the painting, but I was absolutely floored when she turned to me and said, "You know that's a real place, right? It's very close to here."





Woo-woo! She showed me a picture taken at the exact angle, a mountain with a face. Needing to know more, I googled it. What comes up? A ghost story. Seems there was a group of people who lived under the mountain a very long time ago.







Legend has it that they lured an old enemy, from the Montana area, to come to them with talks of peace. Then betrayed them. Killing everyone. The story goes you can still see a spirit searching the river for the bones of the dead to take home.


By this point, woo-woo doesn't freak me out, but it does still startle me. This was an outright shock. Cautiously, plans were made for a visit. I figured I might as well follow as I was drawn. After all, this seemed so blatantly obvious.


Not knowing what to expect, the riverbank was hiked, the mountainside viewed. There were no great flashes of insight, only an overwhelming sense of completion. The feel of a weight releasing. Coming full circle. I stood in those unusual feelings for a bit, acknowledging the strangeness of the moment. Then, looking down as I was to take a step forward on the rocky terrain, there was this rock.


A plain, ordinary beige rock with faint rusty-coloured veins ... and a handprint carved out by water in the top facing me. Any other direction and I would have missed it entirely.





Being me, I had to touch. So, I bent down. My hand fit exactly in the rock handprint. My breath left my lungs in a heartbeat. This was more woo-woo than I was comfortable with. I took a photograph, and left the disturbing rock hidden among the many on the riverbank below the mountain.





That night I went to the studio and stood silently in front of the painting, Soul On Fire. That's when I saw it. There in the middle of the painting, unnoticed until that moment, was the outline of a handprint. Heel of hand to finger tip to thumb, I placed my hand on the painting. An exact fit.


Mind blown.




If the possibilities intrigue you, you can begin your own journey here. Check out the Vision Labs.


#dream #signs #becarefulwhatyouaskfor

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Cochrane, Alberta, Canada