The following was written by Leigh, one of the fabulous participants in the current Full Circle Shamanic Healing Practitioner Program in Tucson, AZ, which began Saturday, October 1, 2016.
Day One. The starting point. The beginning. The proverbial Alpha. As I walked past a beautiful mural of the bold and majestic El Jefe, believed to be the last remaining wild Jaguar in the U.S. (who happens to reside in the Santa Rita Mountains near Tucson, AZ), I felt anxious and nervous and excited. That combination of emotions I once felt on the first day of school many years ago when I was a child.
When I entered The Nest, a sensory stimulating and enchanting space where the group ISA (Intuitive Shamanic Animists) holds events such as this, the anxiety and nervousness transformed to a feeling of peace. I have become familiar with The Nest and the ISA group over the past year or so, and have found it to be a place of comfort and solstice. I joined six other women and our facilitator, Quynn Red Mountain, to embark on a 7 month long training.
Despite the name, these sessions are not intended to certify or anoint our group as Shamans. The word holds much power in other cultures, and the path of Shamans in those cultures is usually strenuous and lifelong. This was made very clear by Quynn at the beginning of our session, during what she termed “Housekeeping”, and also included the nature of confidentiality, commitment to the full series of sessions, and individually signed agreements by each of the participants.
After “Housekeeping” was complete, participants were paired with one another and were to ask three questions to each other.
What is a word you would use to describe your role in life?
What drew you to the series and what do you believe are your intuitive gifts?
What do you want out of this experience?
As answers were shared, glimmers of each woman’s uniqueness began to shine through, along with threads of commonality that connected each of us. A common theme was not giving a word to describe one’s role in life because of a dislike of labels, and being limited or boxed in by a word. I had no problem with my word(s)- Knowledge Seeker. After a few says of reflection I have come up with many, many more-enough for another post!
After breaking for lunch we had our first drum journey circle together as a group. Quynn explained that when a drum beats in a quick and monotonous rhythm, the power of the sound and vibration affects how our brains function, and we can slip into relaxation, a dream state, a trance. The power of sound and rhythm has been used for hundreds of thousands of years, passed on in cultures around the world.
Journeys can be deeply profound, personal, mystifying, and powerfully emotional. After our journey we shared our experiences with the group, and one by one those journey-like traits began to appear in participants’ descriptions and physical body. One trembled with fear and anxiety, others smiled while sharing their experiences, and one fought back tears. Quynn proceeded to explain that to truly connect with Spirit, these emotional blocks from our past traumas must come to the surface and be dealt with and cleared. Only then can you be a “hollowed bone” to be used by Spirit. This is part of our individual internal work.
Our next activity involved connecting with a partner and using whatever natural gifts and talents you have to access Spirit, and Journey for another person. Each of us has always had these gifts and talents as we were born with them. In childhood our imaginations took us to wonder-full places. I have very little memory of my childhood, but I vividly remember playing games with my friend that included magic and spells. But eventually childhood ends, and growing in adolescence within a social structure where learning how to do long division is more important than learning to listen to your own body and your intuition, we begin to forget. We forget how to play, we forget the magic, and we forget our true selves.
This was the most beneficial part of the first session for me because I consistently doubt myself and my gifts/curses. Being able to feel another human’s energy, to ask Spirit about another person using my own set of tools, and get answers which are then validated by statements of “that makes sense” or smiles, nods of the head was very encouraging and empowering for me, as I believe it was for others. The Self-Doubt starts to dwindle and Belief blossoms in its place. There was no set script, no handbook, no step-by-step instructions given by Quynn on how to do this with our partner. I was able to be creative, tap into my intuition in the moment and create a type of sacred spiritual art of action.
Perhaps I am wrong, and by the end of the seventh session I will have a completely different understanding, but the emotions, the remembering, and the art; these three concepts are what I believe to be the cornerstones of this series. More to come next month! If any of this resonates with you, I encourage you to come connect with other likeminded individuals in ISA. The group’s Meetup page has a calendar full of events. If you’re shy like me, you can begin to participate through online events.
Another Healing Practitioner Training series will begin in January 2017. Visit www.shamanicanimism.com for more information.