A while ago I was pottering around Google for information on Shamanism which I have had an interest in for over ten years. I first encountered it during my Reiki training with Elaine Swords who uses The Native Amercan Ways. I loved being part of The Circle and gained a lot from my time with Elaine and all her wisdom. Then I discovered Forrest Yoga and Ana Forrest who also uses the Native American traditions.
It seems to me that The Shamanic Way keeps inviting me along to find out more. My Google potter led me to an “Introduction to Shamanism Day” with Paul Francis and it was so easy (yet again) to be part of the gathering as it was held at The Buddhist Centre in Manchester.
The word shaman ordinates from Siberia/Mongolia and possibly means “one who sees in the dark” or “one who knows”. It has been practised all over the world. Before the time of agriculture we lived as hunter-gatherers and all hunter-gatherer tribes practised shamanism.
So, what is shamanism? It is definitely not a religion. It is a way of experiencing the world and having a direct personal connection to Spirit without the need for priests, temples, texts, sects….. And so what is Spirit? A short answer, it is everything. Everything is made of energy and therefore, everything can be communicated with because energy is conscious and alive.
Shamanism has probably been around since 33,000 B.C. or even earlier. The oldest religions are Jain/Hinduism and they began 3,500 years ago. Peoples from all round the globe have used the ways of the Shaman to live and enjoy their time on this earth.
There has recently been much interest in the Shamans of The Amazon and many westerners travel there to learn more about themselves.
I simply travelled into Manchester to find out more and Paul Francis was the perfect person to explain and enlighten me and others. The day was full and so much knowledge was passed on. We were given the chance To Journey. One of the joys of the day was to be asked to simply soften and use our imaginations and enter fully into whatever occurred.
One of our Journeys was to discover our Power Animal. I was pretty convinced that mine would be a wolf, a hound, anything large and canine! Well, I have to say that during my journey, wolves and hounds aplenty popped by but they all looked at me in a superior way, turned tail and strolled off! I was not impressed with the process so gave up and sat down in my imagination and felt vaguely pissed off. Out of nowhere a beautiful butterfly landed on my arm and “gave me the eye”! So somewhat sheepishly I realised that here in all its beauty sat my Power Animal.
This gorgeous creature is described in the Medicine Cards by Jamie Sams and David Carson as being all about transformation. The power of Butterfly is the ability to know or change the mind. You must observe carefully your cycle of self-transformation and like Butterfly you are always at a certain stage in your life activities. It is a never-ending cycle.
I found this information absolutely fascinating as I feel that my whole life as been about finding out, informing myself and gently altering my ways of being and adapting to changes in my physical, emotional and mental bodies. Many years ago I returned to Zimbabwe to visit friends and on a wonderful trip into the bush whilst sitting quietly by a pool of water the most magnificent butterfly alighted on my arm. It stayed there for five minutes and more, simply gracing me with its presence. It was large and blue and everyone in the group simply sat there and watched. I was later told by one of the group who had lived all his life in Africa, that it was seen as very special to have that happen and that butterflies rarely land for longer than a moment.
The day after my workshop we were helping our daughter pack up their house in preparation for the move to pastures new. I noticed a butterfly in the greenhouse and it seemed to be fluttering in a truly unhealthy way. It was caught in a web. I carefully untangled it and it simply sat on my hand in the sunlight for many minutes. It almost felt like it was catching its breath and taking stock. Gathering itself up it turned full circle and flew softly into the autumn air. We have since then had three butterflies in the kitchen and so, I am fully convinced that they are always with me and have been forever.
I have decided to spend time in 2015 learning more about shamanism. The Medicine Wheel is where I will begin. So over time I will doubtless be writing more about all that occurs!
May your days go well….