Thursday, July 21, 2011

Shamanism

I recently spent some time with an elder friend who loves dogs as much as I do. She lives in a remote wilderness area of the Province of Quebec. In the last decade she’s spent a lot of time helping in rehabilitating wounded animals especially those who have been hit by motorists. She’s contributed to the healing of deer, caribou, coyote, wolf, owl, eagle, raccoon and so much more… BP often calls on ME to help when the animals are struggling with recuperation. She always says: “I can see wounds, I can see pain, I can see healing but I can’t see death lingering over people and animals.”

I love spending time with BP because her perspectives always get me thinking. BP has been a successful psycho-therapist for over 30 years. She is now retired. I’ve often given workshops up in Northern Quebec where BP lives. She has always been interested in the idea of vision quests, soul retrieval and totemic guidance. Before G and I started working together I often traveled to BP and handled circles for her and her community. BP has always been more focused on the traditional dimensions of Shamanism. G and I emphasize Indigenous Dreaming and the Medicine Wheel. We still consider all aspects of Shamanism when doing healing work or when teaching the basics but dreaming is definitely our expertise.

BP and I don’t talk as often as we used to a decade ago. She says it’s because we’re getting older and we can’t pack as much living as we used to in a day. I can’t help but chuckle at this perspective because in many ways it is definitely true. Recently, she was in Montreal meeting with a vet and took some time to connect. She mentioned how difficult it was for her to be in the city.

“Is it me,” she said “or is urban living sucking the life out of us?” I do find it interesting how drained I get when I’m in the city. The more I focus on nature the more I struggle with crowds, buildings and consumerism. It’s always good to meet other people who are living the same kind of thing. BP talked about how people’s focus often changes the energetic charges which make up their vital space. She believes that our focus on nature is the reason why our energetic charges aren’t protecting our vital space accurately in the city.

“Most probably,” she says “the same would apply to city people visiting my neck of the woods.” I found it quite interesting how some people could feel drained in the wilderness. My perspective has always been that “nature can only energize us.” Still, at many workshops I’ve observed how some participants get exhausted just by breathing clean country air. It makes sense that focus can make a difference in the way we feel, we think and we react to the world around us.

Spending a day with BP is like spending a day with Grizzly Adams. For those of you who have no idea who Grizzly Adams is please skip over the simile because it probably simply indicates how old I am and what kind of teenager I once was… ☺ Basically all this means is that BP is somewhat eccentric and gets along with wild animals these days more so than humans. I like the clear, crude and direct approach but not too many waitresses in down town Montreal appreciated any of BP’s advice. I even started teasing her at the end of our visit by pointing out that none of these beautiful, young creatures had claws or fangs. She laughed hysterically and said quite seriously: “I never worry about claws or fangs. It’s the fake smiles and the practiced excuses that scare me.”

There’s no way I could disagree.

A lot about our visit this time around centered on questions that BP had on the Shaman’s path and what it means to receive a shamanic healing. She shared some stories about old acquaintances or clients who recently approached her with an idea of starting a shamanic retreat in her area. She didn’t know what to think about it and was looking to hear some of my perspectives.

One of her question was: What does it mean to be a Shaman?

To be honest I don’t like this question and for some reason I always get stuck having to answer it. ☺ Everyone who speaks about the Shaman experience always has to start by expressing that the word was born in Russia. Right away, language and culture breaks the word away from experience and people begin to argue on whether or not it belongs in First Nation tradition or, whether or not it can be taken seriously with Caucasian people. Soon all you’re left with is one over simplified definition of an experience, which literally reaches beyond Western, modern day understanding.

“YES!” I cried out a little too loud for the quaint restaurant we were in, “Shaman’s are go-betweens (so to speak) between different realms of consciousness. But there’s more to it … “

I had the impression BP liked the fire in my voice and in my eyes as I spoke on this topic because she couldn’t stop grinning from ear to ear. At some point she asked: “Why I hadn’t created my own Shamanic retreat ages ago?”

“I’d be the first begging to go,” she said.

From my perspective lots of the Shamanic retreats that I’ve been invited to (hoping to not get anyone upset here…) cater to individuals who have money and are looking to eventually become shamanic practitioners. Not to say that there’s anything wrong with this vision; but honestly, it varies from my own. I’ve always felt called to bring Shamanism into the homes of everyone. You don’t need to believe in Shamanism or to actively seek it out to get something out of it… Sincerely, I’ve always found that people who know very little about Shamanism always receive the most out of the shamanic experiences we bring to them. I guess it always boils down to expectations.

I love the idea of being part of a community who gives value to the Shaman’s role. What I appreciate the most out of the workshops we give is how G and I are busy 24hrs a day for 4 to 5 days. We get to do our thing and we get to do it all the way through and for everyone. It’s amazing how every participant (at least in our last workshop) surrenders to whatever healing or learning the dreaming brings forth. It’s beautiful, powerful and contributes to all that is good (from my perspective).

At one of the workshops that I gave in N.B. almost 10 years ago, I remember how the participants marvelled over this unexplainable breeze, which existed all through the weekend while the Medicine Wheel was up. As soon as we took down the Wheel this strange wind suddenly totally disappeared. It was crazy -- I actually traveled in the dead of winter to northern N.B. in the midst of a blizzard to introduce shamanic practices connecting specifically to death, to this group of 18 nurses who mostly worked in palliative care and knew absolutely nothing about the Shaman’s way. ‘Til this day I always look back fondly at how simple and how beautiful death appeared in that circle.

“Breath” - that’s all it was.
It’s not like there’s a breeze every time I make a Wheel.
It was there that time and for them only.
After all they called to it and they asked to know more about it for 4 whole days. All I had to do is listen and do my job; which meant sharing the experience, the knowledge and the wisdom I was receiving from the other realm.

Every circle, every individual, every workshop etc… offers a different need for learning and healing; and a different story or experience. It’s one thing to try to define Shamanism or the Shaman’s role; but it’s a whole other story to define how the Shaman connects to the dreaming space of his or her collective. One thing is for sure there’s no Shaman out there who can exist without community. It’s as if the Shaman energy is totally dependent on collective energy.

At the end of our visit BP asked me: “When is the book coming out?”

Again I laughed out loud and shrugged as if to say: “Who’s got the time these days?”

Still for the first time in years I managed to reply: “I’m actually working on it.”

It became plainly obvious that I had lots to say on the topic and that some actually cared to hear about it. We’ll see.

Thank you to BP for sharing so many of her perspectives. I’m actually still working on most of them…. ☺

P.S. I want to give you the address of this Lodge in Golden where we gave our latest workshop. It's worth booking an holiday there. The people who own this land are wonderful. I'll come back with the coordinates unless someone beats me to it in the comment section. Thank you.

9 comments:

Rose said...

I love those conversations with friends where you come away with new perspectives and get to look at your old ones properly. I love that energy, that buzz you get.

I think the sea is an energy of itself as well, like the country, because even country folk will say about sea air being tiring. I lived in the city for a few years and hope I never have to again. My friends were not surprised I left and could always tell when I had left it too long to go somewhere green with no people...

Would love to read a book by you! Would love to attend a workshop of yours too... if I was in the same country as you, but I quite like it here *grin*

Lisa F. Tardiff said...

Rose,

We have people traveling from Wales, Paris and Ireland to participate at our workshops. You are more than welcome to come for a visit too....

You can arrive a few days before the workshop and leave a few days after. This way you get to enjoy the area (Montreal, Qc. Canada). We help with accommodations with all of our guests so you don't have to spend on hotel rooms.

Our workshop is 1100$ CDN This includes lodging, food and the workshop itself. We always suggest to those who travel from abroad to bring a little extra money for some outings outside the 4 day workshop.

Check me out on Facebook.
I'll add you to our Medicine Wheel group and you can get more info on the workshops from prior participants.

If you want us to come to your country -- you have to get a group together. We're more than open to come for a visit as well. Most people like to come to one workshop here in Canada first -- before making that kind of commitment.

There's lots of possibilities.
Take care

LISA

Rose said...

Ah... I am sure one day I shall have the money but not right now. All about priorities and timing isn't it... Dreams are what keep us going and what we get to work at making come true.

*hugs*

Emily said...

BP sounds like a woman I would love to meet.
I love this comment - '“I never worry about claws or fangs. It’s the fake smiles and the practiced excuses that scare me.” This is SO true. Cities are exhausting, I much prefer to be in nature, surrounded by animal and plantlife. Its honest, its real, there is no bullshit.
I cant wait to move away from city life.

Lisa this comment jumped out at me - ''One thing is for sure there’s no Shaman out there who can exist without community. It’s as if the Shaman energy is totally dependent on collective energy.''


I really like this entry.

Michelle said...

For some reason this brought up for me one of the themes we worked on in Golden about our own weak links...and how if as a community we are not working on our stuff being real then it is harder on the Shaman...I see the fake smiles in my daily work with people I like knowing they are there now before I was oblivious and in Illusion.
I am seeing how to use it to my advantage but not losing myself in the rollar coaster. I am with Emily on the nature comment I feel more rejuvenated in nature but I am able to bring the nature to me even in an office.

Lisa F. Tardiff said...

Michelle,

I like the idea of "bringing the nature into the office."
Tell me how you manage to make this happen.

LISA

Michelle said...

I started feeling suffocated at work and noticed that my office felt blahhh lol so I looked around my house for things I could take with me to the office.
I had a vase that has red and purple swirls on it really pretty but it felt empty. I searched for something to go inside it and found some cattails, a few feathers and some long grass and a butterfly and a bamboo plant.
I recieved two angels as gifts for my birthday one year and I brought them to work also. I also have some pretty glass crystal hangings on my window so when the light shines through in my office it casts these rainbows along my desk and floor.
I put up pictures of waterfalls, trees and animals on one of my walls. My staff comment on how they feel calm in my office. I notice that before I didnt personalize my space so I started with pictures of my family, then the animals and then nature. I want to add a water fall statue so I can hear the water too but little steps when its right.
I also purposely turn my chair so I can see the pine tree outside and the wind through the poplar leaves.
I am noticeing the seasons out my window and have been trying to bring this into my space inside, it helps me to feel better. this is how I feel nature in the office?

Jen said...

I get thrilled by the city itself. I looooove cities. I don't love crowds of people. But somehow, I really find myself feeling calmer and centered when I can look upon a city skyline at night. I find it a beautiful thing. I love the pace of the city. It feels like another world.

I also love nature, but I get really bored. In small bursts I like nature and I really think that when I'm older that's where I'll need to be to find peace. But right now, I'm a city girl.

Lisa F. Tardiff said...

Jen,

You can still connect to Spirit and follow the laws of nature and the stars if you live in the city. It may take a bit more commitment but it's well worth the time.

Keep your eyes on the dream....
That's what counts.

LISA