Friday 2 October 2009


Shamanism has always been about mediating between different worlds and beings
to bring healing and balance within and without. Seeking answers not only for our own lives but also for the difficult questions troubling the world we live in is a way of healing in itself.

It is too easy, when faced by the many global realities of crisis, to become disempowered by the belief that there is no way we can make a difference. Everyone can see the need for creative healing solutions but so often people become overwhelmed and shut down or overstretched and disconnected in response to the suffering all around.

How can contemporary shamanism respond positively to this situation?

“We are the ones we’ve been waiting for”

-June Jordan

Shamanic Explorers is an open group, which uses group shamanic journeying for deep exploration and research.

The shamanic journey is special way of working where the participants use the sound of a specific kind of live or recorded drumming (see sidebar) to change their state of consciousness in order to connect with their helping or teaching spirits. Each journey has a stated intention or mission, which is either a request to the spirits for help, healing or guidance.

Journeys usually range from 15-30 minutes and are often done lying down although sitting standing and even walking or dancing is also possible depending on what best suits the practitioner or the situation. Participants write down their entire experience as soon as they return to ordinary waking consciousness, they then attempt to distill the journey and draw out the answers or teachings in relation to the mission.

The overall intention of Shamanic Explorers is that we work together to discover sustainable healing answers to living in our world. This group also includes people who cannot physically attend participate in this project and contribute to the research pool from wherever they are in the world. We focus on the big issues of our times and our intention is to share our findings with the wider community through Shamanic Hearts to empower and inspire.

In its simplest sense the work of Shamanic Explorer’s is healing through exploration and offering inspiration through sharing. Many great thinkers both spiritual and scientific have been saying for years now that our intentional thoughts and actions have effects that reach far beyond what can be imagined. Therefore, in this work we bring loving intention to our research.

“To heal is to touch with love

that which we previously touched

with fear”

-Stephen Levine

August 22 was the first meeting of Shamanic Explorers

Like any good explorers expedition we started with preparation and safety. This was the research of the first meeting and anyone wishing to join the project later will be asked to do these journeys for themselves:

1.”How can I prepare to work well with global issues?”

(This was a personal journey to make sure that each participant was individually instructed regarding doing ‘big work’ to ensure that they stay well connected with their spirit helpers and are able to be present and balanced in the physical world after the work)

2.”What teachings do we need to remember when doing healing research with The Shamanic Explorers?” (General teachings to share with all)

3.”Please show us a sound and simple way to send healing to any situation!” (Again for sharing, to create a collection of ways of sending healing for general use)

Participants were asked to distill their journeys and share their teachings in a way that would be accessible to people who may not know anything about shamanism or even spiritual teachings. To maintain confidentiality the six participants whose teachings are shared here have been re-named.

There is great diversity in the experiences people have on their journeys and the way that they understand and distil them; some are very brief and some are longer. To preserve this variety and give a flavour of what it is like to work in a shamanic gathering I have simply presented the teachings as they were sent to me:

Shared Mission 1

”What teachings do we need to remember when doing healing research with The Shamanic Explorers?”

Lucia’s Teachings:

Take on the role as an observer, with emotional detachment.

We are not guilty to have created all the challenges in the world and

we are not expected to solve them all on our own.

We are not alone.

Bring love and our own divinity to challenging situations.

Camilla’s Teachings:

When doing healing research we need to remember that the situations that need healing are part of the natural world and couldn't exist without it. We need to set aside any taken-for-granted assumptions we may have about what's wrong, and look for what we can be thankful for, respect what people are trying to get, what they hold dear, and honor and value what they bring, how they seek to express themselves. The presence and participation of a person seeking to bring healing with this attitude is helpful regardless of the outcome.

We need to value things more. In caring so much about nature we've tended to dismiss urban living, commerce and manufacture which make our society possible. We need to see the whole process of manufacture and trade and exchange and means of exchange as a sacred interaction between people, and as a way to celebrate the amazing wealth of this planet.

If some of the goods produced are rubbish, it's because what the producers are really offering by being present on the planet is being rubbished. The rubbish is a distortion of something basic and wholesome that's being disrespected; we can't do anything about the rubbish unless we restore balance by giving respect where it's been withheld. Our own view has to be balanced, before we can see what it is that's not in balance. We have to be aware that exchange of goods is good before we can do anything about the exploitation of our planet and the exhaustion of its resources in greed. If we valued things more we would waste less. If we gave things away instead of throwing them away we would have to consider why we'd got them in the first place - what they were truly worth.

Care and appreciation and respect are basic to all wholesomeness, all healing.

Tim’s Teachings:

Be very peaceful and calm and connect yourself with the nature.

Marion’s Teachings:

Have your feet on the ground. Make sure you have good support from your teacher(s) and keep connecting with your helper(s) as you go.

Remember that we (humans) cannot know all the implications of what we are doing before we start or even after we finish but as long as we have a good intention and clear hearts to journey with we will create good energy.

Remember that as the globe and the universe is round, there is no boundary and the ripples that we create with this work will come back round to us again.

Do not assume knowledge; to create safety and freedom remember that you sometimes have to do things very differently from what you expected.

And remember that it can be fun to change the world!

Ingrid’s Teachings:

Remember to ask for help from Helpers and Teachers. You are to trust spirit.

My teacher says this work is about healing, he takes me to a large reflective expanse, like a large glass lake. I am shown hands gently holding and putting out the smoke from large chimneys and gently dissolving the buildings that produced smoke.

"You must promote the wind turbines" I am shown a line of wind turbines along the north coast, "this will give the mothers and the fathers work."

I am told that this way of wind turbines is right for now until the sea turbines are ready.

Beth’s Teachings:

The idea/symbol of the helix is crucial to my understanding the stuff in my head and in journeying: the intertwining spirals, touching from time to time, spiraling through many dimensions (not just from lower to upper), but through and along, through time and space, (perhaps 13 or more dimensions, as in string theory); also different but specific connections between the spirals (cf: genes – 2 pairs which always interconnect in the process of reproducing identical instructions for the next generation).

The importance of connections and those who help us make the connections – ‘connectors’. Very often, perhaps always, there are special helpers for particular missions – and on the journey I was reminded of helpers who had come to me to help on various projects, pilgrimages and so on. I suspect that when the Explorers journey on specific missions, our special helpers will work together too, and new helpers will come with us. Of course, there are already many spirit helpers working on missions we will undertake.

Shared Mission 2

”Please show us a sound and simple way to send healing to any situation!”

Lucia’s Teachings:

Connect to a situation and concentrate on it.

Form a circle around it and ask for the light to come in.

Hold the space.

Camilla’s Teachings:

To send healing we have to have it to send. It is our sense of connection to the universal all-is-wellness.

Stand in a high place over viewing the situation, with your face toward it. Place both hands flat on your heart (chakra), one covering the other, and focus intently on sending healing to the situation. When you are intentional enough and heartfelt enough, gently draw your hands away from your body in a gesture of offering, allowing a white bird to emerge from your heart. Hold the bird up poised in your cupped hands and ask it to go and carry healing to the situation.

Q. How do we tell the white bird where to go?

A. The bird is a pigeon. Pigeons always know where to go.

To be intentional enough and heartfelt enough we need to connect to the situation, and how we do that is for each one personally; if we need information in order to connect effectively we shouldn't be shy of asking for it. The outcome is not our concern, meaning that we don't take it personally. Sending healing is a way of formalizing and empowering a spontaneous out flowing from the heart. The out flowing has to be prompted, triggered in some way, but it's the clarity and strength of the connection that causes it - the urgency and gravity of the need is only the occasion, and getting caught up in emotional reaction to the need can easily damage our confidence. When I got this teaching I was reminded of an American chiropractor healer of the first half of last century who used to tell his patients: What's right with you is the starting point. What's wrong with you is beside the point.

Tim’s Teachings:

Be very peaceful and calm and connect yourself with the nature.

Marion’s Teachings:

  1. Stand with your cupped hands in front of you and imagine holding a very young being in them (Choose something that your heart opens to, it can be human, animal, vegetable or mineral). Now imagine that you are holding in your hands the children/young of the future.
  2. Now remember that this is the being we are guarding and helping. Start to walk slowly in a circle (clockwise) Take a step and then another. Walk to feel, walk to nurture and to make this tiny being possible, to help it grow and be free, even to help it die. Come full circle.
Now standing with this tiny being in your hands, raise it up towards the sun (you can imagine this if there is no sun) and open your hands to set it free. Now your hands are empty and your gift is given.

This way of healing that cannot harm and is not invasive or directive. It simply sends power in the form of Love and Freedom any situation you dedicate it to.
To finish this or any altered state work, give thanks and return to full waking consciousness by doing some gentle stretches and having something simple to eat or a cup of tea!

Ingrid’s Teachings:

My teacher told me to sit by the fire; to sit with palms facing in front of heart with focus on the middle fingers, then to see in the minds eye and hold in the palms that to which healing is being sent;

to walk and walk healing thoughts to recipient into the earth with every step;

to sit with candle, to mediatate on flame, send love and healing to the given situation, blowing the candle out with dedication to the recipient;

to sing your healing song to send healing to any given situation;

these are many ways, there is more than one way for there are many people.

Beth’s Teachings:

On this journey the drumming sounded out “THIS SPACE … THIS SPACE … THIS SPACE ….”

I saw a kind of upper room – plain and empty, but I got the feeling that this was space or a room for the Explorers to come and place their missions/intentions/prayers to be left for the relevant gathering of spirits to help, work on and apply healing to.

This might be a group ritual that could be used alongside each member’s own healing ritual.

These teachings from the first meeting although varied and presented in different styles, have certain themes that repeat and phrases in different journeys which echo each other. This is a normal occurrence when journeying in shamanic groups: there is diversity but also a subtle unity as if there were some constants in the fabric of the universe that connects all of us.

The exploration continues.....

Friday 28 August 2009

Welcome to the sunrise of Shamanic Hearts


Shamanism is a spiritual practice which uses altered states of consciousness to connect and work with helping spirits for empowerment healing and guidance. Learning and practicing shamanism is on the rise internationally in many modern forms: courses, trainings and workshops are available throughout the fields of holistic healing and personal and spiritual development. Shamans, shamanic practitioners and teachers advertise their services across the media while intrepid programme makers travel to tribal settings and film or take part in shamanic initiations, rituals and ceremonies with varying degrees of sensitivity, respect and sensationalism.

Shamanic Hearts explores contemporary experiential shamanism: how people learn and use these ancient healing ways to live well and make positive changes in themselves and the world around them. Contributions will include articles on aspects of shamanic culture and practice, findings from shamanic community research projects and sharing of individual experiences of life on the shamanic path.

While the aim is to incorporate many kinds of discussion in these posts, our main focus is on first-hand experience: 12 years of teaching and practice in this field offers a rich resource to draw from with many contemporary shamanic voices willing to share this extraordinary work.

We will also be looking at what it might take for the roots and shoots of shamanism to live side by side with acceptance and mutual respect. Shamanism has lasted for over 40,000 years and is spread across the globe. All contemporary shamanic practice exists because of its ancestry and owes gratitude and acknowledgement to the traditional shamanic cultures where, in many cases, shamanism continues to be practiced today.

What is an ethical approach to shamanism in the 21st centaury? Is it possible for this prehistoric spirituality to survive its journey from the times and peoples where it originated and thrive with integrity in our modern global culture? How can we practice with genuine relevance to the culture and the times we live in? What actual use does this sacred work have in our everyday lives?

The global shamanic revival raises controversy about how people with no hereditary shamanic tradition use or misuse shamanism. Practicing and teaching for the wrong reasons or without adequate knowledge or training is one of the concerns in our fast-track commercial society. Inappropriate use of traditional cultural practices is another hot potato and this argument has further ethical and political perspectives, because in the wake of historical colonialism and continuing abuses of the human and spiritual rights of indigenous peoples: a lot of hurt and injustice remains to be addressed.

Looking from a different perspective shamanic practice has proved to have a universality, which allows people from all walks of life and any culture, faith or religion to expand their consciousness and bring wisdom and healing into their lives and the lives of others. The potent and profound resource of spiritual reconnection which shamanism offers seems to ignore the borders that humans impose and serves the interest of global health and restoration, which argues that it is good and even necessary to share this healing way in our troubled times.

As a Western European teacher and practitioner of contemporary shamanism, my experience shows me that there is no quick fix to these ethical dilemmas. It becomes clear that the practice of shamanism, like everything under the sun, has its light and its shadows. What we can do is to pay attention and keep asking, “How, if at all, can people with no traditional shamanic heritage make use of shamanism with respect and care?” This blog aims raise awareness and keep eyes, hearts and minds open to this question and all the issues it raises. At the same time our intention is to build bridges between ancient, traditional and present ways of healing and living that can benefit everyone. By sharing explorations, experiences and ways of practicing shamanism we hope to give something back and give thanks as well as inspiring new ways of cooperation.

I have been deeply moved by the help, healing and wisdom of my helping spirits and the abundance of wise and powerful teachings and healings received by the groups and individuals I have worked with over the years. Shamanic Hearts is a space for people to share some of these special experiences and teachings with the wider world.

We welcome participation in this blog, so if you have a contribution you feel would serve the aims and spirit of Shamanic Hearts you are warmly invited to submit a piece to me at We also appreciate your feedback, which can be left as comments to this blog.