Thursday, September 5, 2013

Traditional and Modern Shamanism.

Every year we host a workshop on our home territory, in Quebec.  We spend the rest of the year traveling across Canada, the U.S and / or Europe.   The Great Gathering idea started fifteen years ago around a Blue Moon.  We had several people traveling from across the World to visit with us and we thought: “Why not make this a yearly event.”  Since 1996, we’ve been on the web hosting a Shamanic community site.  We managed to meet quite a few people through internet.  Yet since being shamanic most definitely implies close contact and natural connections we couldn’t “survive” (so to speak) individually and communally without meeting face to face. 

You could say that before 1998 – I worked mostly in Montreal, Quebec building circles in my back yard.  With technology the concept of “back yards” fell off the grid. 

Suddenly the whole planet opened up to “me” and I could share with literally the four corners of the World.  I would have to give you more details concerning my journey and initiation into Shamanism for you to understand how technological progress synchronically supported my path and purpose, yet for now, I’ll leave it to: “Fate called my name loud and clear…”

I was recently asked in an interview if “I missed the more traditional methods of teaching and living the Wheel?”

I found myself hesitating for a minute before responding.  Honestly, I’ve quested my whole life for traditional, shamanic teachings especially when relating to dreaming.  It’s only recently I realized that I wasn’t attached to the “traditional wisdom;” but more so trying to get away from being psychoanalyzed.  It was clear at the time that I was struggling with what we often call “paranormal skills” and looking for resources.  It just seemed that what would work best with me would be “old Religion perspectives (paganism as some would say).  Today looking back, I’m grateful towards the way my story unfolded. 

“By magic” I’m told I was able to find and to learn from traditional people.  Many initiates today find it incredibly difficult if not close to impossible to connect to elders and teachers who are traditional.  The problem is often the expectations and the initial focus or intent. Ironically manifestation doesn’t appear by fate or coincidence;  we play a role in the way life creates for us. I often tell my students to become aware of the “origin” of their relationships and life commitments (whether it be a job, a party, a project or an illness etc…).  It gives us the clues necessary to move forward in our journey; to seek out learning and healing; and eventually bring forth changes.  Expectations and illusions are empty bubbles that inevitably get popped along the way.

I am clear that although there may have been some magic at play in my journey, it wasn’t the reason behind my good fortune in finding traditional people.  Ironically, it was only once I was unwavering enough to walk this path and creative enough to scream it to the World that the traditional people were able to “find me.” 

In fact in many traditional circles the teachers, elders, or Medicine People determine who they choose as students / initiates.  They certainly don’t advertise their search in local newspapers or magazines; and since Shamanism is not a Religion – there are no Churches for them to call in parishioners.  I’ve met teachers / Medicine men and women who literally waited a lifetime before accepting an initiate.

In the Western World you can become a teacher after University studies.  Experience is not necessarily a criteria unless you are teaching a trade.  In schools teachers are often burdened with overpopulated classes.  Our modern Society indisputably settled close to 50 years ago that all children and teenagers must go to school.  Educators select the educational programs and students are requested to follow without a vote.  Western studies are geared mostly towards intellect.  We test and grade students according to what they remember.  We limit the definition of the word “knowing” to mental abilities.

Traditional teachers choose to their students / initiates according to their own criterias.  Being a teacher doesn’t mean that you have to share the teachings.  Actually most traditional teachers will feel a responsibility towards the teachings and see themselves as protectors of the teachings first.  Experience is crucial; but it doesn’t always relate to age or particular studies.  Understanding the teachings:  What they mean, how they should be used, and who should have access to them is often the debate …

When G and I were initiated close to 20 years ago, we often discussed the topic of traditionalism.  We knew from the start that we weren’t being called to be strictly traditional.  In debates with teachers we often took the side of modern thought and evolution.  We believed without a shred of a doubt that we were being called to bring the old into the new; and attempt to bring change to the World.  For sure it wasn’t because we didn’t love the traditions just the way they were or didn’t respect the journey of our ancestors.  It was more about rational thinking.  People of the 21st century would never go for the way of yesterday. 

In many ways we believed that “protecting the teachings” meant “making sure they would survive a new era.”  Every teacher is called not only to teach, but to apply the teachings to a new generation.  It’s not always simple to provide an education to everyone.  More and more these days we are noticing that we have to adapt our teaching methods to the students.  They have to be involved in their education if we want to start seeing some success.

Traditional teachers often repeat the statement: “You have to be committed to your path and purpose; and you have to labour through the challenges / tests.  Being an initiate means YOU have to do the work and most times it means to make ready to make the impossible occur.”

Most of our workshops are about providing teachings to our students and guiding them towards self-discovery; but the Great Gathering is always about “being called to do the work.”  It’s the only workshop we give during the year where the tests are huge; the mistakes evident and sometimes painful; the competition and support necessary; and the success and failures gratifying.  The GG is geared towards standing in our Medicine.  It’s an experience that feeds us for a year and demands a vigorous commitment as well year after year. 

To come to a Great Gathering you have to be called to it.  There are many ways for this to happen.  Either the dreaming calls you in; the synchronicities fall into place; G and I send you a text message and you can't say no...  There several other ways as well.  It seems "receiving a call" is a unique experience.  

Definitely Gérard and I would love to see at the GG every participant who came the previous year.  We are human and do get attached; yet, the idea of a "calling" comes with its own story for every individual.  I've come to observe that many Great Gatherings have given direction to certain participants leading them to new adventures and long term commitments.  As well, it doesn't mean that because you are not physically with us at a Great Gathering that your Spirit isn't journeying along with us.  This Great Gathering in particular is calling a few people to participate in alternate ways.  We've accepted to try out a few creative suggestions.  

Like I've said in this blog entry: "It's time to open up to change."

This year’s Great Gathering will be remembering the last 15 years of Great Gatherings.  Stories and Wheels will be renewed while some will be completed and put to rest.  It seems like nature, the stars and the Dream Time is asking us to take a conscious step towards change.  Are we ready to walk our talk; and carry the teachings towards a new era and towards new generations of people?  As soon as we announced the dream behind this workshop -- it was quite magical, beautiful and impressive how many first time participants heard the call.  The GG of 2013 is welcoming a good number of new people.  The Moon of Welcome is definitely supporting the vibe for this one.....  

Lets see what manifests together.


The GG starts on Monday and ends on Thursday. 
We’ll be back after September 12th with hopefully countless great stories and lessons to share.

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