Sarah and I are sitting at the kitchen table discussing judgments and expectations regarding Shamans. Sarah said that the first time she went to a Moonlodge she listened to people speak about me and expected to see someone much older than I was. People spoke about the kind of wisdom she only encountered when dealing with people with old age (not even). Also they were all in awe with me when I walked in I suddenly had to meet Sarah’s high expectations. I didn’t fit the image she had created. When Sarah talked about Shamans in class other students always said that “real shamans live in the bush.” They can’t live in the city, they can’t shop in a mall, they can’t have a car, and they can certainly not appear on parent-teacher night to discuss the academic progress of their children. Shamans are eccentric, non-ordinary individuals. Are we idealistic or simply absurd when we come up with these kinds of expectations? What are we basing ourselves on considering we have never met a Shaman before? How should we approach a Shaman for the first time? If we are interested in working with Shamans – what does that imply for us?
In shamanic communities individuals are chosen in childhood to walk the path of the Shaman. Children show early on in life the kind of characteristics that will later help them journey towards the Shaman role. There can be even awe towards the unusual wisdom and awareness of a shaman-child. It doesn’t take being 75 years old. It’s always been understood that the Shaman energy is not human but rather an energy that exists in nature and that has access to eternal time and space. It moves through trees, rivers, clouds, animals, insects and humans without discrimination. For years, it gives glimpses of itself – small moments of perfection that allow us to notice that an individual is being called to be of service to something that follows rules out of this World.
It makes no sense to approach this energy with any kind of limiting expectations, or judgments. Partially because it is attached to the unknown and to mystery, it is meant to be unrestricted and undefined. It’s meant to be explored and to be experienced. I think that it scares us to approach people who have a consciousness of the world that we do not have and who can push us to journey into a world that we are unaware exists. It’s one thing to play around with possibilities but it’s a whole other thing to be pushed to see, to understand and to make a choice: To believe. We like to think we are in control of our reality and it’s terrifying to face the fact that we are not that important in the whole scheme of creation or that perhaps, we are more important than we ever imagined.
In 1998, I was a keynote lecturer for a Women’s Healing and Empowerment Conference in St-Andrews, N.B. The night before I was due to speak I was approached by one of the committee members with the proposal to spend a day with a Passamaquoddy elder. The woman was apologetic and somewhat ashamed at the fact that the elder who was meant to do the welcoming ceremony was exploiting her position to get her sister to meet me and spent the day with me. From my perspective it was a dream come true. I remember staying up all night imagining my meeting with EC. I was glad that I didn’t have too much time to formulate too many expectations. One of my fears was that I wouldn’t be able to pick her out of the crowd. We were meant to meet at the restaurant for breakfast. I was quite surprised when I walked into the hotel restaurant and recognized right away as if I had known her my whole life. It was quite uncanny. We shared so much in common as we shared so many stories for the remainder of the day. EC was an ordinary woman with paranormal abilities, extraordinary attitudes and shaman wisdom.
What was incredible with this meeting was the fact that she had dreamt about me and actually went out of her way to find me. Synchronicity and destiny obviously brought us together. She didn’t doubt her dream and she followed it all the way through. Rather than being limited by expectations and judgments she surrendered to the unknown and allowed spirit to bring us together. EC taught me to believe and in one day she pushed me to embark on the greatest journey of my life. She showed me that the Shaman’s path is one of magic, beauty, abundance and sacrifice. There was something incredibly familiar in what I experienced that day and at the same time there was something unbelievably unknown. In the eight years that followed I packed 500 years of experience and learning. It showed me that what we understand and believe in the Western world is so very different than what is offered in the Shamanic universe.
Picture: When we were traveling to Golden, B.C. for our Spring Workshop -- I was taking pictures and asked G to pose for me. "Make it stereotypically believable" I said -- and that's what came up.