I received an e-mail from DLL before Christmas and she was asking me to consider writing a blog entry on “how to bring up children in Shamanism.” Her message spoke about her challenges as a mom. DLL suggested that I consider sharing on this topic and I thought it was a great idea.
When I approached my children who are now adults with the question: “What do you think is the difference between a Shamanic family and a Western family?” -- they both looked at me as if it was a trick question. After I reassured them that I was serious about exploring the topic with them and even write a blog entry on the subject, they were both very forthcoming with their perspectives. My daughter explained that what she noticed the most was how Western parents often approach child rearing as if they have to program their children to believe in what they believe; see things the way they see things; and make appropriate choices which means choices with permission. My son agreed with his sister and added: “I think that shamanic parents follow the flow so to speak whereas Western parents follow society.”
In my case I brought up my children with the help of Sacred Circle tradition which is what most people call the Medicine Wheel. It’s a philosophy on life that is based on living life fully and becoming aware of the lessons and the healing; the beauty and abundance; the attitudes and gratitude; as well as inter-relations that life offers. I believe that when you become a mom you want to offer the best to your children. You want them to be healthy physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. You also want them to grow up socially happy and capable of being strong adults one day. In my experience it is not easy to find good role models, individuals who basically have it all together… I know that my goal was not to teach my children about Shamanism but to give them an understanding of the world from different perspectives which is the way of the Wheel. I wanted them to grow up believing that everyone is different and yet, there’s always a way to find a common ground with others. Shamanism became a focus only when both my kids started to demonstrate 6th sense abilities like I was born with.
I never thought that my kids were mine and that it was my job to mold them into good citizens. I believed that we chose each other to share a life time together. They had as much to give, teach and share with me as I had to teach and share with them. I think that lots of parents have the same perception that I have but I can’t say that many of them understand how to manifest these intentions into practical, daily living. In my case it was my own exploration of Shamanism and the Medicine Wheel that guided me to find the way to make these feelings real – not only for me but for my kids too. For example when my daughter first started to affirm herself with her clothing we went through a few arguments where she refused to wear the clothes that I bought for her and demanded to take control of her wardrobe. She must have been around 8 years old. I remember agreeing to go shopping with her and even gave her the money that she would be using to buy her clothes. She felt rich until she got to the cash with the shirts, dresses and shoes she picked out for herself. You can just imagine how this incident ended. Both my daughter and the cashier were looking towards me to handle the problem but like I explained to both it wasn’t my shopping spree; my tantrum; and my needs that were on that table but theirs… We live in a society where responsibilities aren’t handled to the people they belong too but to the people that are elected as authority. In Shamanism, it is understood that responsibility isn’t decided according to money, status, age, culture or religion. Responsibility is an attitude that determines a person’s awareness of themselves, others and the environment around them.
I remember the cashier being upset with me for having wasted her time. The store manager even told me that it was inappropriate for me to teach my child in this manner. My daughter obviously had to leave the clothes behind. She put the money back in her purse and although completely humiliated and angry in the moment, she never argued with me over clothes again. Today, she works hard for her money, she thinks and double-thinks before spending it, and is very careful not to be wasteful. I’m glad to say that she learnt the lesson. So much about Shamanism is about initiations and that often means humiliation. Learning life’s lessons often means experiencing consequences to our ignorance. Where lots of individuals in Western society understand humiliation as a kind of abuse – in Shamanism it is seen as a healthy means to learn and grow.
I asked KT “if she felt resentment towards learning about life’s lessons through lessons of humiliation?”
Her answer was: “No – because everyone learnt the same way even you and dad. It’s not like it was just me and CT who was getting blasted by initiations. We saw the adults in our life go through these processes as well and it felt fair. Sometimes it hurt more to watch others go through it.”
What I enjoyed about exploring this topic with my children was how we shared many common points of view. I loved hearing my kids appreciate their up bringing and even hope to be able to teach their children on day in a similar manner. My son expressed that what he often found difficult in his life was people’s resistance and intolerance of his views and experiences. He said: “People love mirrors and if you’re not one of them they just pretend you don’t exist.” He also told me that what he liked best about shamanic living was how people lived together and respected each other’s medicine (talents, abilities, opinions, feelings etc…) CT hoped to be able to live shamanically in some shape or form for the rest of his life.
If I had to give any kind of advice to DLL and other mothers out there who are looking to teach their children how to live life differently than what is offered in mainstream society – I would say: “Be strong, perseverant and consistent. Children grow strong and healthy when their mom and dad are strong and healthy too.” If Shamanism is something you want to explore and offer to your family you need to learn all you can about it and walk the path with your husband and kids. It’s not something that can dismiss a family member. It’s not like coming from different cultures and religious backgrounds. It’s a way of life that is based on a collective choice.
P.S. I promise to write again on this topic because you certainly can’t say it all in one blog entry. I definitely welcome questions on the topic.