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Barnacles of Life “It’s called Barnacles of Life,” the dermatologist kindly explained with a smile. I’d gone to see about a flat area of what appeared to be cells multiplying on my pink fair skin. Growing up under the scorching desert sun with a family disposition to skin cancers, I’m careful about changes beyond the plentiful freckles covering my body. “The clinical name is Seborrheic Keratosis, and it is harmless,” she assured me. After a full body check, she reviewed several more areas that I worried over, including some patches of dry skin (more Barnacles), tags, and moles that irritated me. The last dermatologist had called one of the patches, ‘Old Lady Skin,' to which I was terribly offended. I like the expression ‘Barnacles of Life’ much better, although admittedly, the first thought that popped into my mind was of a whale. Geese. Picturing myself as a whale as I sat there in a paper gown—naked and sweaty from the sweltering 110-degree summertime heat—made me feel vulnerably self-conscious. And then it began, the deep dive into symbolism that comes from a depth psychology mindset. I started imagining old boats, creaky wood piers, and sea creatures alike, all struggling with these stowaways of barnacles freeloading on their space. Diving deeper, I imagined into the clusters of barnacles, grouped together, multiplying like my pink patch of skin, and stretching out in a warty reminder of days past. I googled the phrase when I got home and gasped at some of the images of actual sea barnacles on human skin. Eek. That is not what I have. Then I saw an article that amplified the phrase to Christianity as ‘Living Stones’ in the ministry of Jesus. Relatable, but not what I was feeling. I thought about my own little freeloaders, hitching a ride on my human form. What are they trying to tell me? Why are they visiting me? Barnacles are encrusters. They attach themselves and root right in and get comfy. They hang on tight for the ride. The Wild Ride of Life. The other night before this appointment, I had a terrible dream image of literal sea monsters. My beloved life symbol of a purple octopus was swallowing up a little blond girl, much like me as a child. As I watched that in horror, I became acutely aware of a prehistoric, winged thing that was attached to the right side of my body. It had sharp teeth, and it was meshed into my entire right arm and torso. It snapped and hissed at me like a pterodactyl. My dream left me feeling the dinosaur image was a form of spiritual attachment. I associated it as something gross trying to get the best of me. It reminded me of a dark energy like the one I felt looming, brooding, over me that emanated from the huge guy to my right at an ayahuasca retreat in Kauai. During that moment, I called on my protectors to shield me from his demons. It worked. Shaman shared later that she felt Grandfather Elder come through the imaginal back door and stood guard the rest of the ceremony. I continue to call on Grandfather Elder when needed. So, this spiritual attachment, The Barnacles of Life, the Dream images. What do they mean? My insightful therapist gave me an assignment this week to consider, “Who are you, really?” What she meant was, I am not the stories I tell myself; I am not the image others have of me, or the low self-esteem imposter that doubts myself and chatters in my head. I am not even the spiritual warfare that rears up within me from time to time that appears as anxiety and depression as I wage my battle with sea monsters and energy attachments. But who am I, really, at the core of my being? She took my breath away with that question because I realized that I’d forgotten and needed the reminder. I thought I used to know, but sometimes the hardest parts of life shake us up and rearranges the perceptions we have of ourselves. She started me off by my mirroring back some of the thoughts I’d shared in the session. “You are a matriarch. You declared it when the bank robber found you hiding.” That brought tears to my eyes. I did say that in the face of danger after whispering to Mother Mary to hear my prayers. “And I see you as a Sage,” she generously offered. The synchronicity was incredible. I had just come from a conversation with a new friend who was going through terrible distress on the Wild Ride of Life. I had offered to ceremonially sage her office and house to cleanse her low energy. “I am Sage” was my spiritual message. The power of clearing low-serving energy is already within me. The power of clearing spiritual attachments or scrapping off barnacles that irritate me comes from within. The light of my guardians already protects me. I Am a spiritual being having a human experience, as my good friend, Teilhard de Chardin famously shared from his own divine milieu. I Am. Barnacles—warts—and all. Love, Teresa Michelle

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