Seminary Program

This is where we post the essays from many of our Universal Life Church Seminary students. When students finish a ULC course, they write a comprehensive essay about their experiences with the course, what they learned, didn't learn, were inspired by, etc. Here are their essays.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Doctor of Spiritual Development essay

First, I want to thank Dr David Crouch for sharing so much of his own experiences and what they learned from their own teachers, masters, guides, and their own clients."   A year ago I made a decision to get outside of the box, to change my patterns, to find the ways to release the blocks that kept me tied to the past, to belief systems, or to what no longer served me.  
In my own journeys, what was shown me by my own Spirit Guides during my vision questing, and from researching, I had learned that brain chemicals, neurotransmitters, etc., control us, our function, emotions and so much more.   The brain was like a computer that made the decisions which brain chemicals to release and which to with hold.   Behind the brain were our thoughts, beliefs, values, our experiences, memories, teachings and in some cases brain washing that were directing the brain. 
In order to change the release of the brain chemicals to achieve better outcomes, I needed to change my thoughts.  This often meant also changing beliefs, undoing brain washing, doing a lot of trauma recovery work, releasing learned reactions, triggers, responses and undoing the brain washing.  
I would like to briefly share who I am, I cannot do this, for there is nothing that can be briefly stated about who I am.  I am a mixed blood, a combination of several races:  Finnish, Gypsy, Celtic, French, and Native American.   I am the great granddaughter of a medicine woman who came from the Finnish Russian border area.   I am blessed that I knew this great grandmother, that I was raised knowing she walked and talked with the Spirits, that she had healing gifts, a powerful second sight and prophetic visions.   The day would come when she would walk my visions to begin my teaching.
My mother was born with gifts, second sight, and she would have prophetic visions as well.  The problem was, living in this country, she was terrified that if people found out about her gifts, the gifts of her father and her grandmother, they would all be sent to the insane asylum.  She was terrified of this.  Her own mother had died of cancer when she was five years old.  She feared being orphaned.  When she was older, she meant my father, together they tried hard to assimilate to the upper class culture and to rid any association with "the old ways."   When I was born with gifts, she told me not to talk of them, she told me people would think I was crazy, and she was terrified that people would find out.  So this entire part of my being was suppressed and I was left untrained.
My father was French, Celtic, and Native American.   He had the dark hair and dark skin.  His grandmother was very connected to a tribe in lower Michigan.  However, my father was climbing up the ladder, he wanted no one to know of his Native blood lines. In fact, he would tell people he got his dark looks from being Jewish, which we were not.   He had actual hatred for the Native American people and later in my life would share that hatred with me when my own journey brought me to walk with the Native American people.  My father expressed his tremendous anger at me for bringing the Native People back into our lives.  Part of my own healing journey would encompass the need to understand my father's anger, his hatred, what had happened to the Native American people, the generational trauma, his need to escape association with his blood ties to them, and more.   Only when I did this, could I then have compassion and forgiveness for his hatred and anger.  I also would come to learn how very blessed I was that I found healing, the healing he was unable to find before his death.
There were also tremendous levels of trauma, generational trauma on both sides of family, trauma from those that used alcohol and other substances, trauma from all levels of abuse, trauma from those that had mental illnesses, trauma from the deaths that came from those that suicided, and more.  In each generation it seemed that the traumas were increasing, the patterns were growing stronger, and healing was a harder path to find.   I was determined to find a way to break this pattern in this generation. 
As a child, I was raised Christian, raised in an alcoholic abusive home, I created personalities to survive, dysfunction was deeply ingrained with in me on multiple levels, I had many of the "gifts" and basically was totally confused and very unclear of who I was or who I was supposed to be.  For a very long time, dysfunction controlled my life. 
I did love nursing, that was a powerful truth with in me.  I was born with healing gifts, a need to heal that was as powerful as the need to breath.  I was also very angry, uncertain, reactive and I triggered so very easily and all of this interfered with wanting to walk a good path, be a good woman, a good nurse, to be normal and stable, a state that I could not ever quite achieve. 
One day I did decide to set my sights on becoming a nurse.  I did create a nurse personality that would allow me to function the same way, day after day and year after year.   In time I did graduate, I did work a year in  med-surg nursing and then I moved into mental health nursing.   Mental health nursing fascinated me.  I soon saw that all of my clients, and these were mostly long term clients with very serious mental illnesses that kept them inpatient most of their lives, all had some form of childhood trauma or abuse, neglect or abandonment.
So I asked the question, what was it about childhood trauma that created the potential for mental illness.  While medications treat symptoms of mental illness, if we could not understand what caused mental illness, we would never understand how to cure mental illness.
So in these years I learned how the fetus's brain development can be affected by the mother, her state of emotions, her serotonin levels, her mental health, her thoughts, and the neurotransmitters that filter from her to the fetus.  The scientist have learned that people with different diagnoses have brains that formed differently.  For instance, the brain of some one that has schizophrenia is different physically from the brain of some one who has chronic depression.  So the brain forms early in development. 
My next question was could any of this be reversed?   If so, then how?   There is now research that does show we have parts of our brain that are used very little.  However, say a person begins to do deep meditation or vision quests, then new dendrites will begin to form in these unused areas of the brain.  
I spent many years with Native American medicine people, the elders and pipe carriers.   I saw the healing that could happen and heard stories from people how spending a few days in the healing ceremonies and sweat lodges brought healing to either physical or even mental illness.  On the one hand, I know that healing comes from the Spirits, Great Spirit, God or the healing energies of the universe.  I also know how as a student of Reiki, healing energies have come through me to bring healing to others.  I also know, a person's own belief that some thing can heal them, will trigger the brain to release the brain chemicals that bring healing.  
Working with the medicine people on the reservation in the healing ceremonies was one thing.  There, no one needed degrees, outcomes, diagnoses, certifications, licenses, etc.  There was a great deal that was focused on how childhood trauma could result in a child losing his or her spirit.  Healing was about bringing the lost spirit back into the person.  
On the psych units, these methods were not acceptable, I had to find a way to turn what I learned from the Native Americans into English, western medicine or "the white man's thinking".  At times I would have directors that were more then willing to work on these programs with me and we had successful outcomes for our clients.  I could see that helping a client change their thinking, would help them find recovery from mental illness or at the very least a reduction of their symptoms.  
There was so much more to all of this and I was searching, when I explored the program of the Doctor of Spiritual Development through the Universal Life Church Seminary.  So through these weeks of each lesson, of learning what David and Steven had to share, with trying out the new tools, opening my mind to even more ideas, and having the permission to do all of this, has been a tremendous experience.  
One of the things that I would share with my clients is that we all have a spirit, an agreement our spirit made with God/Creator/Great Spirit/the Universe, and an agreement to come to this life to do a certain piece of work that would be unique and important.   If we lost our spirit, then we would not be able to do that work or keep that agreement.   The God/Great Spirit/Creator/Universe knows our truths, all of them.  When I raised my sons I would tell them, warn them, not to be a mouth piece for some one else's beliefs and not to be a robot for some one else's belief system.  They had to find their own truth and what was true between them and the God/Creator/Great Spirit/Universe. 
I found many truths, many beliefs and ideas that felt right to me and that resonated with some deeper ancient knowledge that had been buried with in me, as I did these lessons.  I respect the sharing both David and Steven did as they shared their own journeys, the learning they found, and what they had learned from their own teachers.  David spoke in one of the lessons about a collective consciousness.  It has been so helpful as I did these lessons to see the work others have done, to see what others have found and how they were able to give language to this body of work and create the tools they created.   Not only is there this shared learning and shared knowledge, there is also the releasing of the ancient truths which had simply been hidden away.  
There are those that have said I must choose to either follow the Christian way or to follow the Shamanic path.  In a vision my grandfather from 7 generations ago was with me, my Indian grandfather.  I told him I was confused by these statements.  He told me to look out over the meadow, to see how large my circle was, to see all that was with in my circle, my Finnish ancestors, Gypsy ancestors, Native American ancestors, the cross, the angels, the eagle, bear, the sun, the moon, the trees, flowers, the rivers, the birds and all that was a part of my life.   When I had seen all of these things, my grandfather asked me this question, "Now who created all of these things?"   "The Great Spirit created all of these things, these things are all with in your circle, are part of you, are for you, one not greater then the other, for all is equal that the Great Spirit creates." 
Who my ancestors were, the knowledge they held, the beliefs they knew to be true, all of this is in my DNA, a part of me, a part of who I am.  There is a saying, "where are attention goes, energy flows."  When we deny a part of who we are, deny what is part of us, then we kill off a part of ourselves, our spirit cannot live.  If we cut off a leg, we could never run a two legged race.  By the act of sharing their own journeys and what they have learned, David and Steven helped me accept so much more of who I am and my own true beliefs.   Thank you David and Steven.
I thank you all for allowing me to share this.
Rev. Victoria Hogan - Southern Sky Woman

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