“Somebody needs to crack open the door and let the wind blow in.”
– by Star Prairie
“If what I’m doing is retrieving lost pieces of one’s personal symphony, a spiritual healing which is commonly called soul retrieval, then my body has to be like an orchestra. I have to be able to shapeshift from one instrument to another – – from a mournful flute to a booming drum to a triumphant trumpet. The images and emotions resonate in my physical body which are reflective of the person that I am working with — the words are secondary to this resonance. What is being created is an inner musical landscape — this is the uniqueness of my method and the personal training that has allowed me to do this. I have physical, emotional, and psychological flexibility and the ability to express it through my instrument.”
August 11, 1998
Q: There was recently an article in the Minneapolis and Chicago papers in which they called you a shaman. What is that exactly?
CM: You know that was a nice article, but her use of that word in reference to me was self-serving. It made the article a little more dramatic and mystical. I never call myself that. She saw the back of one of my tour brochures that said, “Shamanic Counseling”, and took the license from that. It’s okay. I don’t blame her. And it’s even understandable. I consider shamanism to be an activity and not a state of being. I have no interest in defining myself as anything in particular. I do a lot of things. But I am not the things I do. Nor am I the things I have done. One of my given names is Windwalker. And that probably sums me up as well as any name. But since I have come this far with a particular name, Clay Miller, I might as well stick with it. And it’s not such a far stretch to say that I am a miller and a molder of clay. The Soul Journey work is one thing that I do so maybe I’m a soul journeyer, Huh? Shamanism for me is any healing or balancing activity where the person steps into the dreamtime or non-ordinary world for the benefit of an individual or community. This is not to say that some people don’t do it for the benefit of themselves or toward some destructive end…
Q: How did you come to do what you do and develop the teachings that are part of the Soul Journey experience?
CM: You know I don’t mean to be difficult. They are not really teachings–just suggestions for self-liberation. Everything and anything is mean to be overcome and surpassed. It’s all about being present and unlimited and undefined. So there are no teachings. Just me sharing how I try to be present in life. Do I instruct during the counseling sessions? Yes. So allow me to be self-contradicting. Am I doing a good job of not answering your questions?
Q: Actually you are revealing who you are in a way that is non-ordinary; excuse me, but I find myself chuckling. It’s like you don’t want to take yourself too seriously. But can we talk about what you do?
CM: Sure. I journey into an individual’s personal mythic soulscape, become it and live it out through my body and voice. I transfer the dynamics of soul speech, emotion, and image into the visible tangible world. I resonate with it. Now I hear myself say that and I think: “Now what the hell does that mean Miller?”
Before I answer that I just want to say to those who are reading this that what I am doing right now in this interview is revealing one facet of my personality which loves to step out when I being asked to define. Read some of the other pieces in this site and you will get some of my other facets. Right now I just can’t help myself. I feel a little flippant, a bit of the rascal in me, or the trickster if you will. And I’m sure that some of my friends and the people I work with will say, “Oh, yeah, he’s like that sometimes.” One of my friends takes great pleasure in calling me a brat. Okay, so let’s leave him behind for the moment. I’ll go through what I do both from a step by step technical point of view and at the same time sharing with you what is going on with me..how shall I say it, internally, is the first word that comes to my mind. How about all that which I am experiencing but which is not visible to the onlooker.
Q: So this is your subjective experience of the process?
CM: Well I didn’t really want to use that word either. Why don’t I just talk? Which is what I do when someone first comes to see me. Most people I don’t know a thing about them. I like to sit and just chat, have a cup of tea, relax, allow them to get a feel for me, establish a level of trust. I sometimes ask them to empty their cup.
Q: Cup? (I can’t stop myself from grinning at the wry humor of his pun).
CM: No, not their teacup, but themselves, their minds. But this whole thing of trust and belief–this is the foundation. Without it, nothing will happen. And, in fact, above and beyond everything that I do, this may be the most important thing that I offer them: someone they can trust, perhaps for the first time in their life. Why can they trust me? The only answer I can give to that is that I try to walk my talk. Practice presence and becoming in my own life. And because I’ve been working with it a lot longer than most people I see, they sense this on some level, that I am fully here for them, that whatever they may think is some horrible part of themselves, to me it’s no big deal. Why? Because I try to look at my own “horrible parts”. I put that in quotes because I would never call them that. We’re all wounded and scarred and that’s really what makes us soulful when we own our pain. When we don’t own our pain, we lose our soul bit by bit. I’ve been down on my belly in the underworld more than the average person. That’s part of me. I know how the mind makes us suffer so we don’t even want to stick around anymore. So trust. If they don’t trust me, then forget it. We’re wasting our time. Yes, I do this for money, but I don’t do it for the money. I don’t need to do this and sometimes I don’t even want to. But I do it because I get to connect with people in a truly deep and intimate way. I always acknowledge that I am healing myself at the same time that I am healing them.
I should also mention that the other necessary component is faith in the work that we are doing. The whole idea that if you own your pain, you’re going to be more radiant and full of life is a strange concept for a lot of people who have spent most of their life running away from it.
So after a cup of tea and a chat, I have them lay down and start to breathe. That’s a big deal for a lot of people. Every little piece of soul that we lose we lose some breathe too. So having the intention just to breathe is like having the intention to fill yourself with soul. Then I select a variety of music to support the journey. I just clear myself and get a little nudge to play this piece of music or that one, very personal and different for each individual. I’m talking about selections from five different CD’s. So in one session, you might hear Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Gabriel Roth’s Totem, some Cajun music, and a native American chant. Now I don’t have to use the music. I can do the journey process without it. But it helps support the transitions in the Journey and is indeed music to the soul facilitating a very deep nonverbal integration. Sometimes when I am done with the actual work, I will let people lay in an altered state for some time. I believe a lot goes on in this unconscious state. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Sometimes even before I select the music I am filling up with emotion. I note it without trying to make any assessment of it. I am already picking something up on a nonverbal, inarticulate level. I don’t say okay I’ll pick this music because this is what I feel. It’s very important to keep my mind and my opinions completely out of the journey session itself. Otherwise, it becomes more of an interpretive act: my seeing the images and giving my opinion about them. The language of the soul is dynamic images of e-motion. They cannot be separated from this soulful world nor from the specific energies that they are the imaginal expression of. When I use the word imaginal, it does not mean that they are not real. This is soul speech. They are musical notes which I allow to move through me as if I were a musical instrument. And this musicality of what is reflected to the person I am working with is the most important aspect for them to let in and own. I invite them to let the dream interpret them. To let the energy of the image and the sound resonate as deeply as possible within them. Become it. That’s what I am doing. I am becoming part of their mythic soulscape. My body fills with this soulscape and resonates in my voice as I describe what I am feeling-seeing.
Q: Aren’t you afraid of getting lost or overwhelmed by these emotional forces?
CM: There is always a part of me that is detached. Because I do not fear or choose to deny my own soulscape, there is no resistance. In fact, my objectivity allows for freer expression. There is partial objectivity that is established through the descriptive act. But at the same time, I become all the elements of this mythic soulscape.
Q: That’s an interesting duality–objectivity and becoming. What are we talking about? What kind of images?
CM: Usually the initial feeling-image is a dynamic or mythic expression of conflicting forces, or a contractual movement aborted or interrupted, a soulful force held captive by some other part of our personality. In the sense that this soulful aspect does not fit in with who we think we are, or because of its imprisonment does not present itself to us as something we want to reclaim. In fact, it might be downright terrifying. One of the problems with trying to put this in words is that it sounds like a journey into hell. The truth is most people feel quite peaceful when we are done. A big component of the journey is an experience of freedom and non-separateness and infusion of elemental forces that serve to quicken their resonance and supports the soul retrieval or reinstatement of soulfulness. Sometimes the journeys are quite cosmic and peaceful and don’t seem to have much in the way of pain or conflict. But it is usually there in some form or another. It is as if what is being presented is what that person needs to experience at that moment. And sometimes what they direly need is some kind of affirmation of soul.
Q: You keep mentioning this contracted place. Are we all contracted?
CM: Oh, yeah, we all have buttons that get pushed that make us tighten up, that threaten our power or safety or value. But you just let yourself feel it, get underneath it, get to the hurt and the fear and they won’t accumulate mass and drag you down and make you shrink from your natural radiance. I catch myself all the time thinking I am being an adult but underneath there’s some adolescent maneuvering going on.
The contractual movement of our being is as natural as the expansive one. But we tend to have a great attachment to the expansive cycle and great aversion to the contractual one because we associate it with suffering. What it is is pain and we create the suffering with our own minds.
The contractual movement is a natural response to pain, whether it’s physical, psychic, or emotional. But as we go through life, this movement is being continually interrupted by our fearful minds. These interruptions accumulate a mass and create increasing inertia. Each one of these movements that is interrupted is a sacrificial act of who we are, of our own personal truth. In the face of pain, real or imaginary, which the mind turns into suffering, we make the decision to not feel and speak our truth, creating more and more immobility in this naturally expanding and contracting spiral. We lose our life.
Q: I feel your gutsiness in speaking your truth combined with a deep sense of compassion. For me the Soul Journey experience with you was like a ray of lightning quickening, catalyzing movement. I felt this even through my initial resistance. My soul “got it”, took in the resonance in a way beyond my mind’s words.
CM: Yes, and when the spiral moves naturally outward, we let in the world around us and the world of feeling within us. Soul Journey is about reclaiming ourselves and re-establishing a rootedness in our soul so that we may have a radiant connection with the world. This is presence. It’s about creating relationship with the disowned parts of our soul. It can’t be done with the mind since that was the instrument of disownment. It has to be done in the vibrant, gutsy, mythic language of the soul. Somebody needs to crack open the door and let the wind blow in.
Q: So we’re back to Windwalker! Or a name a friend came up with for you is El Reyo que Illumbra la Sombre, the ray of light that illumines the shadow. But I don’t want to try to define you, so I’ll just say thanks for the journey, Clay Miller!