Creative Shamanism is a term I give to the way I understand and teach shamanism. Creativity is a flow of energy.
That is why these sections are in the area of water in the medicine here. Water flows, carries and cleanses, just like the shamanic practice. It is also soft and fluid and very powerful. It equates with compassion and the flow of unconditional love and freedom.
I stumbled upon shamanism as if by accident. Compelled to follow a path of play and creativity I was surprised at first that it was the door of shamanism I was led to. I spent a few minutes checking myself at the strength of the resonance shamanism seemed to have with art and creative flow. But then I just accepted the intuition that they were the same thing and nothing has held me back since. This was well over a decade ago now, many trainings and explorations have followed that moment! Naming Shamanism as the root practice of weaving a life of creativity and joy has given me the most fun, challenging, imaginative and healing map to play with. My passion is sharing this map with others and restoring a world of inter-connectedness, empowerment and respect for all living things.
People ask me regularly what Shamanism is. It is a good question. Even though it is a tradition of enquiry and method that dates back tens of thousands of years and is known as the bedrock practice of all spiritual traditions and religions which have evolved in each continent of the world, save Antarctica, it doesn't have an easily graspable definition in today's culture which would land it in-keeping with the every-day practicality of its way of working.
Shamanism has zillions of ways of operating and expressing - it is creativity at work and play! But I think Shamanism can be best explained as an Aim. Shamanism as an aim is to restore the essential state and nature of all living things.
For a human working with shamanism, shamanism can best be reached as a way of being. It is a way of looking at life to be able to operate with life as a co-creator. Shamanism is like being a child who plays but who meanwhile holds the awareness of what we are engaging with so that play can key in with what is in place and create positive change and movement. The image of the clock maker and the turning cogs comes to mind when I am exploring analogy of the shaman. The shaman needs to know where the cogs are, and what makes them turn. They need to know also that they can find the link with the universal energy that creates movement in the first place and align with this with conviction and power. They also need to feel as an absolute that the most powerful influence of turning cogs is the life force and free will to return to ones own true preference and expression of any individual or organisation. This is what brings the authority to a healing. Therefore the shaman always works in service to listen to what is calling in any living being as their true expression and knows that their assignment is to aid empowerment and restore everything to its essential and simple way of being. The shaman has to get out of the way of any ideas about how things should be and listen to a deeper voice of knowing which we have come to call 'spirit'. The word shaman literally means 'he or she who knows'.
Shamanism is also to find a way of being both the player and the playwright. The shaman fluctuates between being asleep and unconscious in the play of life and then wakes up and becomes conscious again and learns how to rewrite the script. The shaman experiences this reality and then can switch to read the programmes that are behind creating this reality and co-create with them.
To step onto the shamanic path as a practitioner is to engage with a practice of ego-dismantling and truth restoring. We keep humble. We call a shaman a shaman with the understanding that they keep themselves humble and are always in the process of doing the inner work, meanwhile having done all the necessary training and preparation work in order to hold a clear container of wholeness for healing projects and sessions. This process cannot be rushed and it is a deep responsibility to take this title.
Shamans in indigenous cultures are expected to have tribes who elect them and keep an eye on the egoic element. To be a shaman or a shamanic practitioner is to offer oneself in service to restoring wholeness in the best possible way. The ego state depends on security and is often manufactured from fear and would inhibit the emergence of pure solution.
Originally all organised communities would have had different technicians of the sacred who were called to look after different aspects of creative life and keep life in harmony. Each role would be a calling to individuals. I believe that everyone is shamanic. In the past, shamanic life would have been the original state of being for all cultures. That aim of restoring the natural state of being to all living things would have been something to keep going rather than as we know it now as something to see as far away and bring back into our world. The subject of animism comes closest to this way of describing the shamanic way. Animism honours and appreciates the spirit in all living things. You can imagine the worlds of the fairy stories and the tales of Celtic life being so much more achievable if you acknowledge that reality is governed by our perceptions. For cultures where everything was seen as alive and with a spirit, the whole process of communication with the worlds around humans would have been so much more interesting and developed. In cutting this reverence for the spirit of all things out of our lives we have cut out certain languages and senses too.
Our earlier ancestors had developed cultures which were led by the understanding of the way in which reality was made and what was needed to keep it flowing. Each member of a community would have a practice that helped the natural flow of things to keep in harmony. It was understood that every aspect of life, every thought behind a deed would have an effect on everything else. In languages the word 'I' would be obsolete.
So pots would be made with this reverence in mind. Seeds would be sown with this reverence in mind. The weather, the soil, the animals and the tools would all be held with a respect and graciousness for their contribution to life and their importance as being a member of earth's community that would each help to bring a peaceful and positive environment into being. In a community, everyone would be given the conditions to be heard and seen so that their innate sensibilities and gifts could be brought our into the world. There would be so many ways to serve the whole. Shamanic culture would be held by those whose calling was to delve deeper into the laws of shamanism and keep order and there would be healers and sacred artists of different flavours with distinct gifts and styles. But essentially, everyone would be working with the same aim in mind. You can see how the structure we have inherited today could come from this but the difference in aim has distorted everything.
In essence, in shamanic cultures, everything would be listened to and considered. This is what we are bringing back into being as we embrace shamanic practices. This is what we are restoring when we look to a vision of how to bring healing to today's world. Shamanism in the present is as much about helping individuals to heal as it is to bring in structures and containers that are healthy and non-hierarchical. Often it is the structure that is sick rather than an individual and the present day requirement of shamanism calls us take responsibility for the organisation of how we are held as members of the earth community and install temples for listening and flow.
Every shamanic practitioner and teacher too has their own different area of specialism. I prefer to call myself a shamanic educator because I like that the meaning of educate means 'to draw out'.
My specialism as a Shamanic educator is definitely to help draw out the gifts of an individual and listen for their calling. I spent years studying children and their ways and was especially inspired by 3 and 4 year olds. I would be fascinated by the preferences they showed. With my own children and then later with others I was lucky to be shown the role that nature and the elements had in keeping them opening and in an inspired state.
Therefore everything I hold with the little red drum has the intention of drawing out the essential true potential: Listening to the heart beat and giving it permission to play its own tune. The trainings that I hold support people to click back in with the natural way of things. To be honest, I don't actually know what shamanism is going to look like in the future. My responsibility as an educator is to encourage people to be as imaginative and creative as possible and to be led by spirit to find their ways. My reputation as a course writer and leader is that I am playful and kind. I am a trained counsellor and have 26 years of experience working in education and creativity. My interest is in Circle and building models to support people to be themselves and to shine brightly with their innate talent. I find you need to be very trusting in the process and be open-minded as a Shamanic Teacher or Educator to bring the best results for people. It is a wonderful thing to be constantly surprised and forever amazed at the effectiveness of this work.
The trainings that I hold really help people to go through a letting go of what holds them back and make a relationship with what they come to know as being spirit. From my own experience I know that Shamanic training takes time and is a process of initiation which has to be sensitively guided. For this reason I choose to hold 3 year trainings and take a small group through to give everyone the attention and holding they require.