The word Shaman, or “Saman”, comes from the Evenk tribal lineage; covering South Eastern Siberia, Northern China and Russia.
It means: to heat up, or get excited/frenzied; a bit like the boiling of water.
Shamanic traditions exist in particular corners of the globe, each with a unique set of tools and ceremonies to promote survival and sustain the community.
Shamanism is often incorrectly referred to as the root of all organised religion. This is in fact, ANIMISM. So, in order for us to grasp shamanism, we must first understand the meaning of animism. 😉
Animism is the basic understanding that everything is alive (rocks, plants and inanimate objects included) and in possession of a soul, or spirit.
Animism acknowledges a universal connection with the spirit world.
Shamanism is the act of actually visiting those spirits in a trance state.
No trance? No shamanism.
All shamanic cultures are animistic, however, not all animistic cultures are shamanic.
Indigenous shamans inherit a close relationship with spirits, through bloodline ancestry. Many can enter trance states at will. Spirits then enter and take over their physical bodies, for use as a vehicle to carry out healings. On occasion, shamans may wage war, or bargain, with these spirits; often a dramatic and visibly aggressive process.
In the Western world, we are NOT part of a traditional, shamanic lineage. Despite this, the word, shamanic, is frequently misused; often as a casual adjective tagged onto anything remotely new-age and spiritual.
Imagine for a moment, travelling all the way to Outer Mongolia to get your dry cleaning done. Not the most time efficient way to go about things, right?
So it follows, attempting to build relationships with localised spirits, in far-flung lands, to try and solve problems in North London. Less still, should we assume that these spirits have any interest in us. 😉
Much as it taints the Western ego, not to be ‘chosen’ in some way, ours is an entirely different sickness!
Any curiosity is completely justified however. We Westerners are rudderless, with no indigenous link, or direct connection to our own lands. This thread was severed long ago; mainly by organised religions, through a crusade for dominance and power.
Meanwhile, Westernised, or “core”, shamanic techniques (heavily diluted though they are), remain a good way to dialogue with spirit. The shamanic drum journey is one such tool.
Shamanism isn’t necessarily all about psychoactive and psychotropic plant medicines either. Despite what you might hear, the vast majority of shamanic cultures don’t work with ayahuasca, san pedro, peyote, iboga, cannabis or cacao.
Finally, shamanic trance work has nothing to do with schizophrenia or western spectrum disorders, despite similarities in some of the symptoms.
Shamanism evolved out of the pre-existing, animistic tradition, 10-15,000 years ago, in 8-13,000 BC; most likely from the Mongolian region.
Aspects of Native American, Aboriginal, Amazonian and Siberian strands were merged in the 70s to suit the modern world under the mantle, ‘Core Shamanism’.
Celtic shamanism is a new age concept. In fact, shamanism didn’t come to the UK at all; the closest European equivalent being Hungary and Finland.
Strands of Celtic Paganism and Wicca however, date back 25,000 years to around 23,000 BC. These traditions were driven underground during the 15th-18th centuries and all but erased from history. During this time, around 40,000 women, pagans or heathens were tortured, burnt or hanged for crimes of witchcraft. Despite this, numerous threads still survive today.
Much of my own training can be traced back to Central America through the Mayan culture. The jury’s out on which is more authentic, but fancy tools, techniques and modalities are unimportant. The key to a successful and rewarding client session lies in present moment awareness and the quality of space that’s being held.
For Chrissakes don’t listen to anything I say! The last thing the world needs is another guru.
Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Jewish, Atheist, Agnostic, Scientist, Rationalist, Punk, Jedi, BeyHiver, Belieber…all paths are welcome so long as you own your process and keep it fluid. There’s no shimmery, sacred text full of answers I’m afraid (sorry).
“Religion is the frozen thought of man out of which they build temples.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti
No, because life isn’t a new age bubble of hearts, flowers and happy-clappy disco re-edits. It’s the entire gamut of emotions. The secret is embracing flow, not attaching to states. Fearlessly diving into the shadows can be far more productive than spouting ‘love and light’ platitudes from the sidelines.
If plants decided only to reach for the light, they’d wither and die. Similarly, those that constantly reach for the fifth dimension clouds are never inside themselves. The roots of our fears need tending to if we’re to experience growth.
The assumption that the axis of the universe hinges upon our individual happiness is also known as hedonism. Ego satisfaction has it’s place – but it’s important to differentiate here.
“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti
Not exclusively. Earth medicine is extremely grounded, with a focus on the inner world.
Mother Earth contains fire in her core and most modern religions brand any form of direct connection, the road to hell. It’s no coincidence that the word evil originates from Eve (the first woman and Biblical apple picker), who ‘gave into temptation’ or stepped into her power.
For years, acting alone, the bloated male archetype has pitched himself as our conduit for salvation. Buried by modern, masculine, HIStorical archetypes such as competition and hierarchy, the ancient feminine stirs, and many of us are hearing her distant call.
It’s time to go within, stoke these (hell)fires and take personal responsibility for our darkness. This is no easy path, but it beats today’s secular equivalent of projecting outwards on smartphones and filtering #instagram selfies.
The oldest known shaman grave in the world is located in the Czech Republic at Dolni Vestonice. This grave site was evidence of a female shaman (or udhigan, if we’re to use the correct term).
“If masculinity is de-essentialised and unlinked from male bodies, it becomes slippery and hard to characterise, relying on ideas that reinvoke social inequalities, such as rationality and aggression.” – Surya Monro
fears and concerns.
Niggling fears, doubts and concerns? Look no further:
It’s good to keep your feet on the ground, so believe nothing and question everything. The modalities presented here aren’t at odds with modern scientific principles. The idea that earth, air, fire and water make up all matter has been the cornerstone of philosophy, science and medicine for two thousand years.
Creative imagination doesn’t have to be exempt from rational thought. A structured approach gives us a map to navigate inward, creatively reshape our existence and ground our experiences in a meaningful way when we return.
“Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited, imagination encircles the world.” – Albert Einstein
If the self help industry is effective at solving our problems, why are we constantly going back for more? On which scale are we improving ourselves and who are we pitching ourselves against?
Mitakuye Oyasin is a phrase from the Lakota language meaning, “all are related”. Native American culture teaches that each action must not only benefit the community, but consider the impact on the next seven generations. Personal growth isn’t a nice-to-have,it’s a responsibility. A humbling thought when we consider our own government struggles to think past the next financial year or four year term.
Check yourself: Have your life goals been reduced to a dreary set of custom emojis? How does your personal growth benefit the wider community?
Trust the process, sit a little longer and find out what’s on the other side.
There’s no pressure to disclose anything you’re not comfortable with; we can work with the essence of your issue regardless. If relaxation is the goal, you may wish for me to keep things simple, but above all, stay within your comfort zone and try not to prescribe an outcome.
A degree of fear and trepidation is healthy as it signifies the commitment you’ve made to yourself. Like excitement, boredom and sleep, fear can be a useful gateway to access the good stuff! Sometimes we need to move through these gateways to shift habits that don’t serve and subconsciously drive our life choices.
Unfortunately, there’s no shortcut and none of us are exempt, but living a heart-centred existence needn’t necessitate a ‘growth through struggle’ approach. Let go of the need to validate a session through the level of drama and suffering. Sometimes the process can be ecstatic!
I recommend a course of ten sessions to walk the walk and bring about meaningful change.
Keys to success are in the transition from a recreational approach to a devotional one. This requires hardcore dedication and an unbroken commitment to becoming your deepest truth. An integration process isn’t something you can compartmentalise and engage in when it feels convenient, and I can’t do it for you.
Pipe up and ask for help. There’s no such thing as getting it wrong.
Setting a clear intention is important. A lack of focus or tiredness can leave your session scattered. Group work and the act of sharing your experience can also increase its potency. When we end a session, subtleties can often get lost or go unnoticed so quiet contemplation and a journal of notes are essential to keep a session alive.
We live in a very visual culture, so clients can hold unrealistic expectations around receiving elaborate visions (which can happen and often do). Visualisation techniques can improve with practice, but insights can arrive in any form; thoughts, memories, sounds, colours, smells and intuitive feelings are all important.
Without ushering in an existential crisis, can you define nothing? There are many textures and nuances to nothingness which offer a million avenues to explore. Or perhaps you’ve reached the pinnacle of enlightenment and are experiencing the Zen state of Sunyata? If so, what’s your secret and can I book an appointment? ;-b
Being at the mercy of the world around us can be a buzz kill. Contrary to what modern, new age forms of spirituality might have us believe (*cough* ‘The Secret’ – Rhonda Byrne), humans are most definitely NOT at the centre of existence. Neither are you comparatively special or chosen. The universe is much bigger than us mortals and isn’t going to bend itself to suit our every career, car, house, holiday or whim.
“80% of energy is programmed to repeat itself habitually and 20% is available to free will, choice, accident and spontaneous happening.” says my good friend, Leo Rutherford (Eagles Wing College of Contemporary Shamanism). “Therefore old patterns will keep on trying to re-assert themselves until a sufficient amount of work is done to retrain the other 80%.”
So whilst you can’t “life is abundant” yourself into a Porsche, you can work on the processing engine that perceives ‘lack’ in a clapped out Fiesta from the inside-out, effectively changing the mirror.
Monkey is welcome. Embrace the full extent of your thoughts and amplify them if they need to be heard.
I’ll use techniques that will ground these thoughts in your body so we can work directly with the energetic sensations, and emotions (energies-in-motion) that come up.
It’s not always necessary to stop the mental chatter. If you can’t tune out the monkey, you can still journey successfully. This is partly why we use the drum as it gives your analytical, left brain something to focus on while the creative, right brain wanders. Similarly, the layers upon layers of vibrational frequencies produced by gongs are beyond what the brain can process. This is enough to put the most restless of monkeys into a deep trance state.
I’m not a millionaire or a monk. Vows of poverty don’t validate authenticity, nor do they force any kind of enlightenment (whatever that is). Our decision to work together is mutual and you’re free to choose where you spend.
Currently, my fees are below the London average (owning a practitioner space has its advantages) and can be tailored to your earnings on the basis of trust. Some form of energy exchange is necessary but if you’re experiencing financial difficulties and would really like a session, please speak to me in confidence.
In general terms: talking therapies, are a fantastic way to bring your issues into sharp focus before ‘diving down’ to work with raw emotion from the inside-out.
Sound therapy is great for deep relaxation and breathwork is fantastic for working experientially with emotions and linking them back to ‘held’ narratives in the body. Finally, drum journeys are good for creative visualisation and guidance.
Without wanting to sound too cryptic, the type of session I’d recommend depends on the issue you’re working with. Normally in the first instance, simple is best.
Have a look through my treatments to see if anything draws you in and call me if you need to talk things through.
All sessions are held in the strictest confidence. Nothing will be shared unless you divulge information that suggests a genuine risk to life, in which case I have a duty to inform the appropriate emergency or safeguarding services.
48-hours advance notice is required for cancellations to allow me to rebook your appointment slot.
If you’re unable to give a minimum of 24-hours advance notice, you’ll be charged 50% of the fee. If you fail to show, you’ll be charged the full amount. This must be paid in full before your next treatment. If I’m able to fill your slot with another booking however, you won’t be charged.
Please arrive 10-15 minutes early for your appointment to give you the opportunity to decompress before we begin. If you know you’ll be running late, please ring ahead and I’ll do my best to accommodate. Due to other bookings and commitments, it may not be possible to extend the session.
Come as you are, spill the beans over a cuppa and I’ll design a session to suit. This doesn’t have to involve anything too heavy like endless delving or trite ceremonial chanting if that isn’t your bag.
Equally, the experienced or curious among you, who like to work with smudging, guided visualisations, invocations and ritual, are encouraged to go wild! Sage, rapé, tobacco and cacao are great allies to work with when the situation calls, but you have all the inner technology you need, so I’m a fan of keeping things simple.
Generally sessions last around 90-minutes, including time for sharing and integration. For more information, see my treatments.
This depends on your intention. Be your own guide, there are no rules.
My aim is to pass on techniques that you can take away and use yourself, without supervision. In my experience, developing a level of competence, shifting behaviour patterns or integrating childhood traumas with sustainable coping mechanisms can take up to 3-6 months.
This work is a fantastic compliment to any traditional talking therapy (including Seven Directions Counselling) as an aid to work with surface thoughts.
Cognitive talking therapies have us believe that dysfunctional thoughts lead to dysfunctional emotions or behaviors. Shamanic work puts the theory in reverse, working with abstract felt sensations from the inside out.
Pause for thought: Feeling tones came before the ability to think and analyse (unless you were spouting that doctorate as a foetus). The English-language shoehorns approximately 3,000 words into sonic shapes to define these states; an evolving art that’s as useless and poetic as catching a butterfly. How many feelings do we experience without definition?
Please declare any medical conditions or prescribed medication upfront and if you have any concerns, speak to your GP.
Modern medicine places an emphasis on prolonging life or finding a ‘cure’. Complementary therapies however, are geared towards improving the quality of life, but this isn’t to suggest that the two concepts can’t work together. Working shamanically doesn’t promise a destination, but more a template for an ongoing inner journey towards complete emotional assimilation, which gradually leads us beyond the manifestation of these outer experiences.
Think of your body as a dense group of cells, each vibrating at a different frequency. Challenging, disharmonious emotions can become trapped in this matrix, resulting in physical disruptions and any number of health conditions (dis-connect creates dis-ease).
The good news is, it takes a lot more energy to store this pain than it does to confront it. Book a free consultation and I’ll be happy to discuss how.
Post-session is where the real work begins. Integration is a necessary component if we’re to break patterns and move beyond emotional conditioning. This is a process that takes place on its own terms and requires a gentle easing back into the everyday.
Don’t plan anything huge, drink lots of water and lay off the toxins for a while! Staying grounded is important to settle things; conscious breathing will keep you in your body and nature is your best therapist. Take yourself outdoors, contemplate life by a tree, or walk barefoot on the Earth.
If you need help, you’re welcome to call me. See also, tips for navigating a healing crisis (coming soon).
Your experience is sacred and it’s important that you choose the right people to share it with. If you’re in crisis mode and need to reach out, it’s normally best to speak to me, or others who shared the space with you.
Stay as contained as possible as seeking validation from another can dilute the experience. The act of explaining away our process, is giving away our power. We’re particularly at risk if we come into contact with heavy, judgemental types, whom I call energetic predators or dream stealers.
See also, tips for navigating a healing crisis (coming soon).
Sure. This short life is filled with points of transition which challenge us to find flow. Many of us feel out of touch with organised religion, or considered neurotic by medical ‘professionals’ as we navigate the upheavals of modern life in the urban jungle. Read more.