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My Time with a Shaman... "The Way of the Shaman"

“Open your heart and harvest the light of the autumn season. Celebrate in sacred ceremony, dance your prayers into Mother Earth and Father Sky. Learn the ancient art of shamanic pilgrimage to places of power. Explore the ancient shamanic wisdom teachings that have been passed down for generations”.

Welcome to Shamanic Healing and Journeying - A Shamanic Retreat...

So, what is a Shaman, what is Shamanism, where does it come from, what does it do, how does it fit into today’s society, and how can I use it in my day to day life??...

I asked all these questions and more when I first heard about Shamanism…

I was intrigued. I read up on Shamanism, its history, traditions, and so on…

And then I heard that there was a Shaman living ten minutes up the road from me when I was living in Manchester, in the United Kingdom. Well there was nothing else for it… I had to meet this person!! And so when I heard that this person, (a woman in fact!) was allowing a small group of people to come and train with her and work with her for a short retreat at her house I knew I just had to go!!

I had no idea what to expect...

Firstly I thought a Shaman lived in the Amazon Rainforest, or in deepest Mongolia, not in Manchester. And I naively thought that all Shamans were men… call myself a feminist!?!

But no, this Shaman was a fifty-ish year old woman, middle-class, living in the trendy suburbs of Manchester. Well spoken, well-educated, full of charisma, but also an extra special quality that I still can’t quite put my finger on…

The 5 day retreat was everything you might expect from a Shamanic Retreat… drums, feathers, chanting, journeying, dreams, story-telling… but it was oh so much more as well… I left with a much deeper respect and gratitude for my life and for everything and everyone around it.

Yes, Mother Earth, Father Sky, whatever that means to you… but it was intensely more profound and inexplicable than that…

At the time I was still studying to become a Reiki Master. I read the book ‘Reiki Shamanism’ because of course all these things are inextricably linked, are all intertwined, and are all one… and it all seemed to make perfect sense…

Shamanism is a practice that involves a practitioner reaching altered states of consciousness in order to perceive and interact with a spirit world and channel these transcendental energies into this world. A shaman is a person regarded as having access to, and influence in, the world of benevolent and malevolent spirits, who typically enters into a trance state during a ritual, and practices divination and healing. Shamans are normally "called" by dreams or signs which require lengthy training.

However, shamanic powers may be "inherited". The wounded healer can often make the best type of healer or Shaman. The wounded healer is an archetype for a shamanic trail and journey. This process is important to the young shaman. S/he undergoes a type of sickness that pushes her or him to limits, even to the brink of death.

This happens for two reasons:

  1. The shaman crosses over to the underworld. This happens so the shaman can venture to its depths to bring back vital information for the sick, and the tribe.

  2. The shaman must become sick to understand sickness. When the shaman overcomes his or her own sickness s/he will hold the cure to heal all that suffer. This is the uncanny mark of the wounded healer.

Significant shamanistic influences have been identified in the practices of traditional Indian Yoga, in some of the underlying practices of ancient Chinese culture, and in the Aztec and Mayan civilizations of Mesoamerica. Shamanic practices have been identified as the original source of modern yoga.

There are many variations of shamanism throughout the world, but several common beliefs are shared by all forms of shamanism.

Common beliefs are:

  • Spirits exist and they play important roles both in individual lives and in human society.

  • The shaman can communicate with the spirit world.

  • Spirits can be benevolent or malevolent.

  • The shaman can treat sickness caused by malevolent spirits.

  • The shaman can employ trance inducing techniques to incite visionary ecstasy and go on vision quests.

  • The shaman's spirit can leave the body to enter the supernatural world to search for answers.

  • The shaman evokes animal images as spirit guides, omens, and message-bearers.

  • The shaman can perform other varied forms of divination, and sometimes foretell of future events.

  • Many shamans have expert knowledge of medicinal plants native to their area, and an herbal treatment is often prescribed. In many places shamans learn directly from the plants, harnessing their effects and healing properties, after obtaining permission from the indwelling or patron spirits.

In the Peruvian Amazon Basin, shamans and curanderos use medicine songs called icaros to evoke spirits. Before a spirit can be summoned it must teach the shaman its song. The use of totemic items such as rocks with special powers and an animating spirit is common. A Shaman may also use; Music, rattles, rocks, feathers, pipes, gong, drum, shake, sword, singing, dancing, stones...

Join us at Paris St. Cloud soon for our very own Shamanic retreat...

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