I just got back from western Canada. We (G and I) gave a workshop out there, in Golden, B.C. It doesn’t matter how many times we travel through the Rockies in Spring, the mountains always share with us new experiences. For example, this June there were quite a few thunderstorms in comparison to last year’s week of hot, muggy, sunny weather. It’s amazing how the mountains actually box in the sounds of nature and accentuates them in clarity. Being in the mountains during a thunderstorm was like being in a cathedral during a concert of classical music.
The dark clouds, piercing sun rays and rainbows denoted the valleys in different shades of light and shadow, and enhanced the power of the Rockies in ways that I would have never imagined. You can check my page on Facebook for pictures. They are well worth the time. I never saw and heard so many birds and even the coyotes, the wolves and the cougars were quite vocal especially in the middle of the night. Perhaps it was the presence of the full moon and eclipse mixed with the Summer Solstice that brought out the wild life on this particular journey? It wasn’t only the animals and nature that were impacted by some kind of unexplained magic, even the humans were unusually excited to be alive and ready for adventure, learning and healing. It was hard to come back to reality after more than six days with our heads literally in the clouds.
We’re often asked: “What do you do at your workshops?”
It’s not often easy to reply to this question because unlike many other professionals who also give shamanic workshops we don’t do formal advertizing and we don’t structure our workshops in advance. We’re traditional dreamers and we literally let the dreaming set the course towards the teachings. Dreaming consists of storytelling. It stands to reason that every workshop delivers a story where participants are asked to explore characters and experiences that provide very specific lessons for healing and learning. Like in our dreams, these characters and stories are closely related to our personal journey. G and I shape shift between being guides, teachers, tricksters and countless other dream time characters all through the workshop. Along with teaching the Medicine Wheel, Indigenous Dreaming and Shamanism, G and I attempt to bring forth what it means to be part of a collective and demonstrate the impact we have on one another. The idea is to understand the matrix of dreaming; recognize the themes and lessons that are being conveyed in our dreams; become pro-active in the dream time; and emerge from the experience with new perspective, deep and intense insights, as well as feel completely empowered. We help people step into the unknown and have a glimpse of the reality that exists between each inhale and exhale. Our goal is to have YOU remember who YOU are beyond your humanity in hope that in the end, you’ll appreciate the unique creature you were born to become.
G and I offer an experience and although every workshop repeats the same shamanic, dreaming techniques and a common story telling format no one workshop has ever been the same. Even if G and I don’t work on building a structure for our workshops we still spend months working on the dreaming that manifests these incredible experiences. We believe that those who end up traveling to participate to these shamanic weeks or weekends are CALLED to come. It’s like listening to music and needing to repeat the song over and over again because the impression gives an impact. We constantly seek out to understand the mystery and the magic that exists in mundane living or even the unknown. “There has to be more to life….” is a common comment. Dreaming allows us to experience and even awaken with some understanding of what lies beyond the veil. Our workshops demonstrate that it’s not that complicated and that living a life with consciousness is not far fetch.
Every workshop offers countless memorable experiences. I often tell participants to take the time during the week to sit down and write. We encourage silence and integration. These notes are always helpful after the fact, for the personal work people will be doing all year through.
A few great moments stand out for me, stories that have made it to my journal. I’m sure I’ll be sharing these moments here and there through my blog entries in the coming year. Here is one experience that got us started at the workshop.
On the very first morning of the workshop DAN and WL found a sparrow dead beside the kitchen window. They were discussing how to proceed to bury the bird when I showed up. DAN was frightened at the idea of being involved. She didn’t want to hold the bird or even bury it. “You do it!” she kept repeating to WL. Him, on the other hand, didn’t want to take care of the bird on his own. He hadn’t found it. He was just told about it and told that DAN needed help. He was OK with assisting but he didn’t see why he should be responsible for it. “It’s not my story,” he kept insisting. By then, we were quite a few people who ended up curious and came around to check what was going on.
I showed up when WL decided to put the bird in DAN’s hand. At that point she just freaked out. She was hyperventilating and in tears. She was afraid and it showed… I did what came naturally to me. I put my hand on her heart and pushed her against the wall to make sure she wouldn’t free fall to the ground if ever she fainted. I told her to close her eyes and center on my hand. “Hear your heart” I kept saying. I asked her why she was scared but she couldn’t answer. So I provided a few examples of what she could possibly be afraid of.
· Holding a dead bird in your hand.
· Fear of having things end so abruptly.
She shrugged over and over again. I told DAN that it was OK that she was afraid and that it was OK that she couldn’t name what was at the roots of her fears as well. By then, we were walking towards a small clearing in the woods where we planned to bury the sparrow. I held DAN’s hand while she held the bird. WL was ahead of us waiting to help with digging a hole. By the time we reached the clearing DAN was in complete control of her emotions. She didn’t mind the bird anymore and she was feeling in awe with the whole experience.
WL took an ax and dug a hole. I put a little tobacco in the shallow grave. WL sang a song, I said a prayer and DAN brought the bird to its resting place. I pulled out a feather from the bird’s tail and told DAN to keep it in her journal. “You’ll see this experience will make more sense at the end of the week,” I told her. And it did but that is HER story to tell.. All through the weekend there were quite a few birds who hit the window. Some recovered and some didn’t…. DAN and WL were always somehow involved in these stories. In the end, their exchange in appreciation for the lessons received was to mention the incident to the owner of the resort. Perhaps the man could do something to make the kitchen window less lethal to the birds.
When I sat down to write the incident in my journal, G was also writing an entry in his own journal. After twenty minutes or so we both stopped and read to each other what we had written. G noted that my experience was simple, ordinary, mundane. “Why is it so important?” he asked while mentioning other incidents during the day that were more phenomenal. From my perspective there was nothing more extraordinary than having a creature die in the name of meaning and the awakening of someone’s awareness. In our tradition if you’re in the presence of someone or some creature dying it means that “you were chosen to assist this soul back to the well of life.”
“It’s a huge deal,” I repeated to G.
DAN’s reaction showed me that she was indoctrinated to be afraid of death; afraid of animals dying; and afraid of her contact with death. I found it wonderful that I could play a part in helping her move beyond those emotions and those programs. I was happy to show her that there was beauty in this story and that she could be useful even powerful in this situation. She could choose to beyond fear. At the same time, I wanted everyone to see how powerful our human heart could be. All it took was to listen to it. Be aware of it. DAN heard it right away. She opened her eyes and said: “It looks like the sparrow is sleeping.” One minute she was freaking out and the next, she was touched by the scene. WL tried to get her to sing and I showed her the prayer I recite but in the end, it was her experience that honoured the bird’s life. What better way to be sacred than to face the fears; walk beyond them; and do something new, something helpful? I think that the feather DAN inherited is a symbol of courage, openness and generosity. It touched many dimensions of everyone’s process during the week. It allowed us to see a glimpse of the themes we would be working with all through the workshop.
I often think that G insults my written texts because he likes to hear what lies behind the words. He gets me talking and somehow receives more out of the oral tradition of my stories.
“Thank you!” he said after I finished my explanation, “I didn’t see all of that but now I get it.”