Many people ask me what shamanism is and why bother? Some people have shared with me recently that they are intrigued and feeling the draw toward it but still a bit nervous to actually take part in any shamanic practices. I totally get that! I thought I’d share my own reflections at this point from the little bit of experience I have, and the help it has provided me in following my own unique path.
Three years ago I was not yet open to shamanism. It was my mother’s path and seemed a bit ‘way out’. I saw drums and rattles, burning sage and fire-walking, and my lack of understanding allowed for distrust, skepticism and probably fear.
As I advanced along my own path of personal development, I intuitively sought out something to guide me deeper into knowing myself and my potential, releasing my fears and connecting to the world around me, so that I could live with more freedom and purpose.
I had a first private shamanic counselling session with Martin Duffy in July 2010. It was a deeply moving experience for me. It didn’t look much different to a normal therapy session for the most part, except that as well as talking, it also included a little bit of meditation and an inner ‘journey’, into my imagination if you like, as Martin drummed and journeyed himself. Ok, so that is massively different!! And it felt very different!
For the first time I felt I was seen and accompanied in my entirety and I was given permission and the sense of safety to open to this. So not just my mind or thoughts or beliefs; not just my body; not just my emotions; not just all of these in my current life, but my whole essence was taken into account. It was as though the memories of every cell in my body and all of those unconscious, hidden, difficult to comprehend senses were being given space, meaning, and recognition. There was a sense of knowing far beyond the rational mind as my body and soul reacted. And as I released, a tiny opening came, like a door just eeking open to hint that there was a way forward and something greater to be experienced.
Ok, that might seem a bit ‘way out’! And it is my personal experience so you may not connect with it directly. But bear with me….
Making it real
What was so important and transformative for me in this first experience was not only Martin’s ability to create, hold and accompany me with great empathy and clarity into that space, but also his guidance in making my new-found awareness and wisdom very real and concrete for my everyday living. What exactly was I going to DO about it?! What action could I take in my situation? At the time I was dealing with my long-held limiting beliefs and fears and my intuitive desire to follow my own yoga / massage / healing path.
And this is what I find really interesting for each of us and our society today.
Shamanism for Today
Shamanism may be the most ancient belief system to exist, practiced by rural peoples and separated cultures all over the world, but it is hugely relevant for our current times, for each of us as individuals and for community at large.
You don’t need to be a long-haired hippy, wearing funny clothes, and into magic! Sure there may be some of them attracted to it. But in fact, accessing deeper levels of intuition and awareness requires a clear and grounded intent in our physical, embodied reality. We are here in theses bodies and in this life and at this time in history for a reason. Many of us, much of the time, confine or limit our reality to the physical and material. Some of us seek to escape it through the spiritual and other-worldly. But it is only when we are truly grounded and fully aware of and present in our bodies that we can access and make use of our real power and tap into a bigger wisdom.
So I have been exploring a little bit the shamanic path since then for myself, including an introductory workshop and the summer solstice workshop at the Irish Centre for Shamanic Studies, drumming circles and the winter solstice with Irène Zumsteg in Mutrux, Switzerland, and experiencing practices like journeying, shapeshifting, drumming, trance dancing, community sharing, fire-walking and sweat lodge. My Mom, Annette Peard, and I also ran a yoga and shamanism retreat together, where many of us were blown away with the awareness that emerged.
I have discovered that this is a profoundly natural human path toward living authentically, wholeheartedly, harmoniously and in peace in the NOW. For me, shamanism provides me tools and skills to tap into my inner guidance system
and to connect deeply with nature and the world around me. It encourages me to move beyond the trickery of my rational mind and connect to something bigger than me. This helps me feel confident in following my own unique path and soften into life.
Based on this personal experience, I find there is huge complimentarity between Shamanism and Yoga. Both help us to connect inward, to evolve, to open up to our full potential and purpose in this lifetime, and to recognise that there is no separation, all is One.
As I say all the time in my yoga classes, there is SO much to be discovered in letting go and opening up. What we have learned is so limited compared to the real potential we have when we let go of the rational mind to listen, observe and feel.
I am very much a débutante on this path but I can see that the journey is a beautiful adventure!!
What about you? I’d love to hear from others about your experiences. Do you feel similarly or is shamanism a very different journey for you?
Join me in Ireland for the Summer Solstice!
I’ll be heading back to Ireland again for a shamanic celebration and workshop over the Summer Solstice, 19 – 24 June 2013, at the Irish Centre for Shamanic Studies. If you are interested to join me check out the details here!