What is spiritual protection?


I often meet this question in connection to my frame drums and the shamanic journey experiences they make possible.

Indigenous teaching refers to humans as younger sisters and brothers in this world, because all forces and creatures were here already when we emerged.  So my first awareness of receiving protection is as family.  Robin Wall Kimmerer, among others, is eloquent about the shift of perspective and relationship that comes when we release the name “natural resources” in favor of “family.”  Family may be demanding, annoying, even estranged, but never ignorant of our shared history and connection.

When I see this picture of my chosen granddaughter Zyla, I see the relationship I most aspire to with the other-than-human world. I am Zyla, that child in rapt attention before wisdom I cannot yet grasp, but whose force I can feel.


This interlacement pattern, named Penelope’s Web, tells how Penelope kept her husband Odysseus alive by unweaving her web each night rather than cut the thread that represented Odysseus, so he escaped all danger.

There is protection in the web of our family stories with the forces and creatures of the alternate realms. Protection in how the strands of our shared experiences of joy and loss bind us to something beyond our isolated human strengths and frailties.

The second quality I understand of spiritual protection is balance.  Strong feet on the ground. Steady in the spirit wind.  The wind at the end of the world, the wind of change bringing new life.

When I protect the more-than-human, I am remembered.  I have shown that I know with receiving a gift comes responsibility.

And my gestures of respect create a flow of respect in return.

The third quality I understand of spiritual protection is trust.  The bird knows Air is a living presence with smell, colour, current and vibration.  I learn to trust that Air is not empty space I move through, but consciousness.

Everything that is, is alive.  I trust that my elder sisters and brothers regard me–perhaps with indifference, sometimes with alarm, usually with curiosity, hopefully with caring.  But they do regard me. And this is the most profound spiritual protection: to be seen.