Category Archives: Mystery

So You Want to Be a Shaman


Photo by Joshua Newton

Thumbing through a course catalog a few years ago I noticed an offering that included the ability to obtain a Certificate of Shape-Shifting. I casually wondered what the Final Exam might look like. Does one have to cross the sprawling campus as an Elk, a Mongoose, or some other animal? Or perhaps hiding in plain sight as a cedar tree would qualify.

In my files somewhere I have a Certificate of Sainthood – yes, it’s true . . . but that does not make me a saint, as any of my close friends or family members can assure you. What is it that makes us who we are anyway? Is it the certificates and degrees we hold? The role or position we have acquired? Our status, possessions, grandmotherly-ness or shapely physique?

Of late I have run across a number of people who openly declare themselves to be Shamans. The number is now surpassing, in my mind at least, those who claim to be Gurus. It seems like being a Shaman is the new, cool thing to be. Overheard on the bus, “Oh, did I mention I am a Shaman?”

Some of the practices we employ as healing facilitators fall under the category of ‘shamanic’ by nature of their connection to time-honored indigenous healing practices used throughout the world. Generally, we stop short of deciding that makes us Shamans. Perhaps, to use a phrase coined by Hank Wesselman, we are at best shamanists. 

We have found that it is wise to embrace humility foremost before the vast mystery of this life we live, this unfathomable universe. I remember a story of a young teenager who, when asked if he was a Christian replied, “I am trying to follow Christ.” This seems like the kind of answer that can really lead somewhere.

Just as it is easier to say you are a Christian (or a Buddhist, or a Saint) than it is to be one, it is also easier to say you are a Shaman without actually having any ability to remove someone’s pain, forecast the weather, or locate reindeer. That goes for pretty much every endeavor in life. In each village, town, and city there are people with advanced degrees who jumped over every hurdle the university presented to them, yet can’t do the work. You know them, don’t you? That’s why it takes us so much time to find a good doctor, a good lawyer, a competent therapist, or social worker, or palm reader, or bartender, or . . . .

OK, back to wanting to be a Shaman. We recommend you start slowly and carefully to examine your desire. If fame, fortune, and status are drivers for you, stop reading now. ‘Cause that dog won’t hunt.

A true Shaman is a servant – they serve the collective good of their ‘tribe’ through courageous efforts to obtain knowledge, and more importantly to acquire experiences that can lead to the ability to assist people to heal at all levels.  After they set foot on the path they spend an enormous amount of time purifying themselves, experimenting, turning within, taking stock again and again of their own motivations, and coming up against a shit-load of inner and outer challenges. In other words, it’s no picnic. On the other hand, it is a fascinating adventure, one that can lead to mastery, mystery, and even death. But since we all face that last one, perhaps it is time to take up the Master Game and lean into the call.

You may want to start your exploration here:

Michael Harner’s Foundation for Shamanic Studies

For a fascinating read try Hank Wesselman’s shamanic trilogy Spiritwalker, MedicineMaker, Visionseeker

Seeing You in Wholeness

When we work with individual clients or with a classroom of people we are always asking internally, “What is needed? What can move this person, these people closer to health? What energy will guide them to embrace the wonder and mystery of the body and mind coming into balance, moving forward? It is our desire to be facilitators of healing for those who come, and to ignite an interest in just how profound an experience it is to be a human being. Helping people heal is an honor, and we would love to share that with you.

Join us at Hollyhock on Cortes Island, and let’s explore both the science and the mystery together.

Cell-Level Healing
Wild Awakening For Health
October 7 – 11, 2018

Embark on a deep, guided exploration of your innate ability to focus energy for health and wholeness in body, mind, and spirit. Looking within, both through powerful micrographic images of cells, and through time-honored practices, explore the healing nature of your physicality and your mind. Touch the heart of stillness in meditation, enjoy hands-on practice, sing yourself to joyfulness, and deepen your ability to be of service to yourself and to others through the refined techniques of Cell-Level Healing.

More info here:
https://hollyhock.ca/programinfo/hawkes-folsom/

A Walk in the Mist and the Mystery

 

Yesterday (uncharacteristically) we decided to take a hike before breakfast. The ‘uncharacteristic’ part I refer to was ‘before breakfast.’ Up near the Canadian border we often go hiking on a familiar trail with our dog leading the way. Rama is an excellent trail dog, unless other dogs or people are around. Then he is a run-away, nut job, ever up for a romp with others, a friendly chat, or simply to follow anyone while leaving the ones who feed him behind. 

The day was set to be very hot, so getting out ahead of the heat was what drove us up the hill before taking in sustenance. And being out so early meant we also succeeded in avoiding people and doggies, a complete win.

While hiking I noticed how often my mind, just like my dog, runs off with me. Then in a moment my attention is captured by the way the morning light is touching and illuminating the broken trunk of a tree that has upended itself into the river below. The beauty of it touches me wordlessly. I resolve to be still, a wordless observer of the woods, but before long I am planning a project like this one. I will write about “Forest Bathing”, and hold forth with data about how the aromas given off by trees are as healthy for us as the oxygen they produce in such abundance. Ah, the mind – so quick. 

At the next lookout spot over our beloved river we note to one another the milky-white color of the water, and tussle with each other about the look and definition of run-off, and snow-melt. The sandy beach below has become more rocky than last we saw it, my hand-carved wooden offerings are still in place, someone has chain-sawed off a small piece of a downed tree. 

In this way my mind creates a world, populated by ideas, beliefs, musings, projects, and I become identified with it. ‘I am’ becomes, I am the hiker, the dog-lover, the carver, the notice-er, the river viewer, the one who comes and goes.

All the while a stillness is present and in brief glimpses I apprehend it, and even fall under its sway now and then. I am caught in stillness, even as my ears hear the river, caught in illumination even as the morning light touches the mossy tree ahead, held in the mystery even while swimming in the mist of the mind.