I am a modern shaman. I am still reeling a bit from how this all came about, but come about it did. There was no denying it, no ignoring the call.
For many people, the word “shaman” conjures up images of ancient rituals practiced by native peoples. Drinking ayahuasca, going into altered states, working with both benevolent and malevolent spirits, working with the dead, and drumming, to name a few.
So what persuaded a midwestern white-as-wonder-bread woman to pursue the world of shamanism?
I finally got to a place where it was more excruciating to try to avoid the call than to take that first tentative step on a new life path, starting with a two-year intensive study with modern shaman Kelley Harrell at Soul Intent Arts.
My studies helped me see how shamanism is actually a lifestyle that holds value today for people of any culture. I have purposefully and consciously chosen to walk that ancient path in my modern world. In doing this, I am a mediator between the spirit and physical worlds, and between humans and non-humans in the physical world.
Many people think shamanism is a religion—it’s not. It’s a way of life that realizes, honors, and fosters the interconnectedness and oneness that exists between all in the physical and non-physical worlds, that right relationship we had with all before we damaged it with the illusion of separation and superiority.
This is one of the reasons shamanism is such a strong call for me—at its core, it operates from the same principles I have already been working with as an animal communicator.
While shamanism does include the techniques of psychopomp, extractions, depossessions, journeys, and soul retrievals, it is so much more than that! When I am working with someone, I help the person understand the changes those techniques bring into their everyday life, and how to integrate them in a way that is as practical as it is powerful.
Traditionally, shamans come from a long lineage, but in the modern western world that is usually not the case. Those in the western world who are called to become shamans, like myself, most probably do not have that direct lineage and ancestry; therefore the lineage is called a broken line.
I come from a broken line. I have neither generations of cultural nor ancestral shamans standing behind me. As a matter of fact, to the best of my knowledge, nowhere in my genealogy is there a shaman. When I was growing up, the word “shaman” and anything surrounding that was an anathema, conjuring up murky images of medicine men and head-hunters. Yet, I AM a modern shaman and as such I am learning and re-membering what it is like to be connected to all, and how to help my fellow humans engage in that same re-membering.
For me, the heart of shamanism is where my feet are planted. Right now that is Missoula, Montana, being in connection with all that is around me, honoring my ancestors, the spirits of the land, and honoring those non-human sentient beings with whom I co-exist.