HOW do people react when they find out you are a Shaman?
I get all sorts of reactions. Mostly it’s ‘Uh?’, or ‘What’s that?’, or ‘Hmmm!’ I went to do a talk once and a woman was very disappointed because I didn’t have a bone in my nose or feathers in my hair. A lot of people’s ideas about what a Shaman is comes from Cowboy films – the ‘Medicine Man’ who would cast the bones and do the dances. I get lots of really positive reactions too, and it’s great to meet people who are open minded and curious about Shamanism.
SO, what is Shamanism to you?
For me, it is a way of life. It is an earth based practice and it’s about being present and being here, now. Working with the cycles of nature, being part of the world as opposed to just taking from it. Although it’s an ancient tradition it is very relevant today. I have gone through a full Shamanic training but this is a life long journey. It doesn’t have to be a way of life for everyone who is interested in it though, you can still use the tools and rituals to help you be in right relation with your soul purpose.
WHERE does it come from?
Everywhere. The traditional role of a Shaman within any indigenous culture was the ‘bringer in’ of the new. He or she would attend the births, they would oversee the spiritual wellbeing of all members of the community throughout their lives. They would conduct all sorts of rituals and ceremonies; healings, coming of age, fastening of hands. Then they would be there to safely guide the dead out to the land of the ancestors. It was a big job, but very much a normal role within society. As with a blacksmith or a farmer, a Shaman was just another role in the community.
WHY do you think it is still relevant today?
It is my belief that Westerners, specifically, find life so hard because they generally live in their minds. The mysticism, spirituality and ritualistic practice has gone out of our lives and with it has gone the sense of purpose, being at one with nature. For example, in the Shamanic tradition we take prayer sticks, use them to process emotional difficulties out in nature, burn them and feel release - that’s got to be better than Prozac, too much coffee and road rage.
WHAT kinds of ceremonies and rituals do you do?
Every month I do Full Moon Fire Ceremony on top of Colmers Hill in, Bridport. Last month it was about minus five degrees centigrade, but we are not fair weather fire goers, if the moon is up then so are we. Everyone is welcome to come along. It’s a chance to offer up your wishes for the month ahead and give thanks for what you’ve received.
AND what about healing practices?
Throughout many Shamanic traditions is the thread that the Shaman works in three worlds; the world below our feet - the Underworld, the physical world that we live in - the Middle world, and then the realms of the ancestors and spirits - the Upper world. My job in a healing session or workshop situation is to be the bridge between all those levels. If you would like to learn about those tools and practices, I do regular workshops at the Chapel in the Garden in Bridport.
CAN you tell us about a favourite book, a film, and a person who you have found influential in your life?
My favourite book is ‘Women Who Run with the Wolves’ by Clarissa Pinkola-Estes. It is all about the essence of what it is to be a woman; rediscovering and embracing the ‘wildish’. As for a film, The Last Samurai is a great account of a man’s journey from chaos to peace through spiritual practice. It’s a great reminder that everyone has the potential to be amazing. The people that are most influential in my life are my friendship group. Ordinary people living extraordinary lives.