On Shen: The Power of the Symbol in my Practice


Josh Paynter’s rendition of shen represents two separate but joined characters. The first depicts the Sun and Moon with the stars dangling from it while the second represents the hand of the shaman wrapping around the stick or rope that the ancients would use to travel and communicate between heaven and earth. Together these characters synthesize the meaning of shen, Spirit as it is on earth, brought down to us through the cosmos into the body.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, this energy of Spirit dwells specifically in the heart. Though I am not a practitioner of Chinese medicine, the powerful symbolism coming through that tradition resonates with me deeply. I am indebted to Josh Paynter for this particularly inspired version of the characters of shen as well as a comprehension of its meanings.

Why do I choose this image to present alongside my practice? Defining Spirit through weaving the cosmos together with the work of journeying between worlds rings true for me.  As an astrologer I gather what I can from the astral plane and translate what I learn for those seeking guidance and understanding. As an intuitive healing artist I sense into the earthly space of the body and the subtle worlds beyond, listening for the expressions of Spirit present throughout.

The heart as the home of Spirit in the body is also significant as a reflection of my practice. In the greater whole of a human being, the heart serves a unique and pivotal role from the beginning of our development as embryos right through to the last embrace. Thanks to the teachings of Michael Shea I have integrated a great deal of cardiovascular techniques into my biodynamic craniosacral practice. Because the cardiovascular system co-regulates with the digestive and nervous systems, the benefits of this work are mighty for the whole body. Facilitating strong, even flow of blood increases distribution of the nutrients and immune cells present there as well as the compassion and gratitude inherent in the heart.  The importance of cultivating compassion in and for our bodies and beings cannot be underestimated. Let the image of shen serve as a reminder.

Corin Brena