Sunday, December 30, 2012

Pilgrimage to the Heart of Australia

‘Be Safe and Well
Peace, Love, Courage’ – Egyptian blessing for those leaving on a pilgrimage.

Many spiritual traditions throughout the world link meditation and pilgrimage. For over a thousand years, Tibetan Buddhists have tried to make at least one pilgrimage to the Johkang Temple in Lhasa, often on foot, in a journey that can take many months.

There are Christian pilgrimage paths throughout Europe, some of which, like the Camino de Santiago in Spain have become more widely popular in recent years. And of course there is the largest pilgrimage in the world, the annual Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca that every Muslim strives to make.

Individuals also make their own pilgrimages to places of personal significance to support their spiritual and meditational practices.

The goal of meditation and of pilgrimage is the same. As in deep meditation, the intention to undertake a journey as a pilgrim can bring us to a state of transformation in which the old self is stripped away and we can approach liberation through a new sense of unity.

The Dalai Lama said that the purpose of a pilgrimage is to engage in transformation; if we come home the same as we left, it was not worth the time or money.

The most powerful pilgrimage destinations combine unusual or beautiful natural features and the devotional energy of people who have meditated or prayed in that place, often over centuries. The journey itself can be an extended meditation and those that involve walking the land with reverence bring the energy and patterns of love back to the Earth.

For the last few years, it’s been my practice to take an annual pilgrimage. These have been journeys of the heart, to places such as Tibet, India, Orkney and Peru. This year I went to Uluru, the heart of Australia.

In the ancient tradition of pilgrimage, the journey of spiritually inspired travel is as important as the destination. They’ve all offered me challenges, difficulties, insights and ‘opportunities for growth’.

The path to Uluru
On my journey in September 2012, there were daily challenges of camping in weather that varied from below freezing to +37 degrees, a blown tyre, damaged shock absorber as well as coming across a serious road accident that closed the highway for hours.

All these things led us to our first glimpse of Uluru, which the explorer Ernest Giles, the first European to see it, called ‘ancient and sublime’.

It is a place of mystery, story and ceremony for the traditional custodians, the Yankuntjatjara  and Pitjantjatjara people, known collectively as Anangu – simply ‘people’.

‘The Rock’, a massive sandstone inselberg, is believed to extend six kilometers into the earth, surrounded by low sandhills covered in spinifex and mulga, is a breathtaking presence that draws you close and invites meditation. No matter whether you are walking under it’s huge curves and channels or gazing from a distance, its energy demands your attention and contemplation.

The pilgrimage is a metaphor for life and when we hold the attitude of a pilgrim, we learn that the way we approach the challenges and joys of the journey tells us a great deal about the way we live our lives.

Uluru invites every Australian to come to the harsh desert centre and experience living in this country in a different way.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Eagle Women

Lately I've been hanging out (and dancing up a flight of eagles) with these Eagle Women.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Orbs Come to the Party

Try as we may we couldn't keep those pesky little orbs away from our shamanic ceremony

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Transmissions of Power

Our shamanic retreat was held at Earth Spirit Yoga in Byron Bay

The tepee was the heart of our ceremonial space. Over five intense days we received eight 'karpays' - direct transmissions of power to build energy for our evolution and capacity to hold new consciousness.
First, Mosok Karpay, the 'new rite' that aligns the healing lineage of the Inca with the new times in which we live.

Don Basilio built a despacho or 'medicine wheel' and called on the support of the natural world. Don David cleared our energy, using the most powerful and sacred tool of Peruvian shamanism, a condor feather. Whooooooo! And so our hearts and hands were aligned and all the chakras were worked.

During the next few days we travelled together through ceremonies of connection and reciprocity with Pachamama, rites of healing, expanding the divine feminine in each of us, and later, calling the high mountains for support, linking with our inner masculine energy.

Peruvian shamanism regards the balance of masculine and feminine energy to be central to the evolution of each individual and of the world.

When we participated in similar ceremonies in Peru, at Inca power sites and energetic portals in the Andes, the environment responded with thunderstorms, lightning displays, rainbows, mists, writhing cloud patterns and sweeping wind swirls.

In the watery world of Byron Bay, wind and the sea danced a powerful duet off the Lighthouse. rainbows came and went and cleansing rains poured down.

Another ceremony connected us with the plains and valleys of the Altiplano and empowered our Mesas or 'medicine bundles' containing the precious shamanic objects that each of us brought to the retreat.

Kurak Akullek Karpay linked us to to the sun, moon and stars and to the lineage of elders who can 'masticate' the old wisdom and turn it into nourishment  for the young ones who follow. Completing our cosmic journey, the God Rite joined us directly with the universe and with Wiracocha, the Creator.

At each ceremony, our hopes, dreams and intentions were energetically incorporated in the despacho and our blocks, barriers and inhibitions were swept away and destroyed by fire.

The effects of these powerful ceremonies have continued. Many thanks for the generosity of Don Basilio, Don David and our hosts, Gerard and Tanya

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Giving Back

Once, on a vision quest, I sat and watched a tree being blown back and forth by a strong wind. The tree’s shadow seemed to stroke the ground but more than that, there was powerful energy in the space between the crown of the tree and the earth, brought into awareness by the shadow.

In that moment I understood that just as the earth nourishes the tree, the tree sends even more subtle energies back to earth. The smoothing motion of the shadow told the story.

How often do we ground ourselves by drawing energy from the earth? We know how good it feels to have this connection as we perform energy work or ‘hold our ground’ in a difficult situation.

We are connecting with the energy of love: the prime power of creation that is held by our mother, the earth.

Love is not just an emotion. It is a pure substance with tangible qualities. When we are filled with love, miracles can happen because the substance or essence of love within, draws the same core quality to us and it is from this field that we can do our work of healing, shining, connecting.

We can continue to take energy from the earth and she will continue to give or we can learn from the tree. Sometimes it feels even better to turn the connection on its head, gather our energies and offer them to earth.

Stand barefoot on the earth, reflect on all the gifts she give us, connect with your heart and hold the intention to nurture her with that loving energy. Hold your hands parallel to the ground and feel the energy flow down.

Do a little dance and feel the joy. Acknowledge any trees that are watching. Listen and you will hear the earth whisper a reply.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

When the Mountains Come to the Ocean

Don't you love it when dimensions collide and events in shamanic consciousness play out unexpectedly in our ordinary world?

While I was leading a group in a shamanic journey recently, I spontaneously went into a brief journey of my own (usually I make a point of staying present in the room in case I'm needed).

In the journey, my power animal danced and raced joyously around a field where the huachuma (San Pedro) cactus, used for healing on all levels, grew alongside pink mulla mulla, the central Australian plant that is renowned for healing of the spirit.

What a perfect symbol for the way in which my experiences in Peru last year are blending with my life as a Western shamanic teacher and healer in Sydney.

Spirit had plans for this energetic connection to become my reality - I learned that Don Basilio, my teacher in Peru and his shamanic assistant, David, were coming on their first  visit here.

At Byron Bay, where the continent meets the ocean, they conducted eight powerful ceremonies of cleansing, blessing and initiation. 

Each ceremony included the creation of a despacho; a sacred mandala into which we placed our hopes and wishes, for blessing, as well as our difficulties, for purification.

At the end of each ceremony, the despacho is carefully folded, tied up and burnt, far away where we can't reabsorb our negativities.

Don Basilio is a Q'ero shaman, the son and grandson of shamans, known in Peru as Paqo. He is a Pampamesayok or Earthkeeper, with special, powerful connections to the land in the high Andes. He is also a recognised descendant of the Inca and a holder of the famous prophecies that this time is a portal offering the opportunity for a new humanity to rise.

The mountain ceremonies have been performed here for the first time. Dimensions merge with a gift of grace for our times.

more to come ...

Friday, May 25, 2012

Primordial Sound

Formed into a phalanx
men and women
glistening with beeswax
made powerful
with powdered snakeskin,
send ahead a scream
drawn through
the rusted jaws of fear.

Each throat adds
to the pulsing shield
of sound.

No weapon yet invented
can penetrate that magic.
Thus protected
they advance upon
their armed
and ancient enemies.

I know that sound.
It startles me awake;
reminds me that I too
could die

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Gift that Doubt Brings

One of the persistent companions for some people on the spiritual journey is doubt. Doubt puts us in a painful and lonely place and is even said to be a major block to our evolution. But, we’re human, and there it is, creeping up on us unexpectedly.

On the other hand, doubt brings us face-to-face with the very shamanic experience of having no solid ground under our feet. It calls in the ‘not-knowing’. The willingness to not know the answers, although it can be scary, is the fertile space of darkness in which new worlds are born.

For a little while, recently, I came to the edge of my courage and belief to a place of uncertainty: of my journey, my practice of shamanism and even of myself. I no longer knew myself as a 'hollow bone' or conduit of Spirit, and instead was asking whether I should even be doing this work.

But Spirit had plans and led me to contact Sandra Ingerman, an American shaman, one of the foremost exponents of world shamanism today. I put my doubts directly to her.

Here’s part of her response: “Shamanism is a practice of direct revelation. This means that it is up to the helping spirits to come up with healing methods and solutions to client's issues. The practitioner does not diagnose or perform healings without consulting first with helping spirits. For they see the issue from a different perspective than we can see from a human egoic level of awareness.’

This simple reminder brought me back to my courage. Of course the way to work with any issues, at least from where I am right now, is through my beautiful, reciprocal relationship with power animals and guides!

What joyful support from the other side of Mother Earth through the magic of both Spirit and technology.

Wanting to integrate this more, I asked in a shamanic journey to be shown the essence of Shaman. No answer. That night, I went to bed with the same request.

The next morning I received an email from Narelle Nicholls, a sculptor, who makes life-size clay ‘dwelling places for spirit.’ After a day of email discussion on a range of things, she offered to send a picture of her spirit home for wolf/shaman. This felt like an important moment.

It takes my breath away that Narelle’s vision so perfectly transmits the core of Sandra’s message. Here is power through the eyes of Spirit while Shaman takes the secondary role as ‘hollow bone’, channel, immersed in Spirit, ego-free and seeing from the heart.

I feel that I have a lot to learn from this teaching and this spirit being.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Transducers of Consciousness

Like it or not, we are becoming ‘shamanized’. We are experiencing an internal shift that will lead to the collapse of the space-time reality that we think of as ‘normal’. What an opportunity to live in shamanic consciousness!
It’s not something to worry about, but we can find ourselves challenged by new views of the constructs that we once thought were reality.
If we allow it, we can become transducers of consciousness (converters of energy from one form to another)  as we take our part in an experiment that calls us to wake up to new levels. This can lead us to become co-creators of our destiny, to stretch our human consciousness and to rely on each other to rebuild our world together. 

Crazy or heavenly, that’s the call.
By living like a shaman we can bring simplicity back into a world that has been dominated by the complexities of ego for thousands of years. Simplicity is not just a cool idea, it is the way we were originally designed. It’s the imprint of traditional and unconditional selflessness that is open to all possibilities.
As the new world advances, we find ourselves naturally wanting to stop thinking so much. We know that it is putting a strain on us. We find ourselves surrendering, not giving up. With surrender, we can breathe into freedom.
We are not alone. Help is here. Spirits, angels, power animals, guides and ancestors want to support us as we learn to live from our hearts. The world turns over and we become conduits for the flow of life, love and cosmic consciousness. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

New Shamanic Journey Course

Starting on Wednesday 2 May from 6.15 to 8.45pm I’m teaching a series of six shamanic journeys called Healing Through the Chakras at Awareness Institute, Crows Nest
In this course we work with the synergies of two ancient healing methods – Shamanic Journey and Chakra Healing. It's also a great opportunity to connect with a community of like-minded people who continue to work with shamanic techniques. 
Refine your Shamanic Journeying techniques by travelling through the doorways of perception related to the energy centres of the body (chakras). Surrender to the sacred realms for personal healing, empowerment and guidance in your life. Let spirit teach you about your own gifts and intuitions.

Illumination Through Shamanic States of Consciousness

Shamans and shamanic healers are found universally in ancient human cultures. In all hunter-gatherer societies individuals have used altered states, or for our purposes, Shamanic States of Consciousness - SSC - to interact with the spirit world on behalf of their communities. Over time healers in settled societies have limited themselves to specialised fields.

It may seem that therefore complex societies no longer have any use for systems that are basically tribal and related to very simple technology. However, altered states of consciousness are a natural biological response, available to all human beings. They come about through the synchronization of brain wave patterns across different regions of the brain.

The path through sacred relationships to spiritual empowerment is one that every human being has a right to travel. If we go far enough back, we all come from tribes that lived in accordance with the rhythms and patterns of nature and that long, long history is encoded in our DNA, even though we and our ancestors have been urban dwellers for the last two or three hundred years.

These synchronized brain wave patterns take us back to more ancient brain processes that can be intuitive, visionary and can lead us into a greater sense of balance.

Shamanic journey states and visions are related to astral levels of perception. Many spiritual traditions speak of the ‘alignment’ of all the levels of our being as necessary for us to function at our best.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Looking for Legends in a New Land

…and the warm, abraded earth
has secrets trodden into it
by soft-pad creatures;

stories danced by fire light
to keep the star-cold night at bay;

pictures heard in trickled sand
and when the wind played Vandal 
no-one moved.
That was the point, you see.

I place my feet aligned to ancient bearings;
walk the song set down by feathered soles.

Old gods reach out to write their laws
on vellum stripped from paperbarks,
then sweep away their footprints
with heavy hanks of she-oak.

One or two among the poets
recognise that these are sacred,
give up their dreams of oak and beech
and pale-eyed wolf.
Let themselves be led by dingo spoor
to something altogether older.

Sunday, April 8, 2012


Shamanism is the most delicate of practices that requires attention, care and respect. It involves holding openness, willingness, not knowing, vulnerability and trust that if the heart is open, harm cannot be done. It is about seeing the sacred in all things, releasing fear, opening into love and connecting with nature, the great healer and teacher.

A word that is often used in relation to shamanism is ‘impeccable’. The dictionary says that this means perfect or without flaws. Given that most of us are only too aware of our flaws and imperfections, how do we begin to live an impeccable life?

Interestingly, it’s not by pushing ourselves to be perfect, but by gently peeling away the layers of what we think we know.

Start small by questioning any long-standing beliefs or ways of doing things that are automatic. If we do something because ‘I’ve always done it that way’ it’s a good idea to stop and ask ourselves why. The best way to do this is in altered consciousness.

When you have some quiet time, go into meditation or do a shamanic journey to a drumbeat. When you are deeply connected, ask yourself or your spirit guides where this belief came from. You may be surprised at the insights you receive.
Your choice to act or think this way may prove to be well founded. But, if it's causing a problem in your life and is a deeply ingrained habit or pattern that you’ve never questioned, it offers a great opportunity to change. 

When we act without thinking, we reinforce ‘consensual reality’. This is a set of often unspoken beliefs by a group or community that limit what we think is true. By adhering to any rigid, unexamined beliefs we limit our own freedom.

Living like a shaman requires that we keep questioning until we strip away all beliefs that no longer serve us. Little by little as the layers disappear, each moment becomes an opportunity to make skilful choices. Burdens from the past or fears for the future no longer limit the possibilities of now. That’s impeccability. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Shamanism in the Modern World - 1

In a time of transition, when prophecies of a new humanity are playing out, it is said that the simple act of living a conscious life can support the transformation of all humanity.

The call to consciousness comes through a vast range of traditions and techniques, but one, a visionary and mystical path, emerging from the mists of pre-history, speaks to the longing for a more authentic life among modern, urban seekers. This is Shamanism.

What am I doing here, an ordinary, Western, city-raised woman, lying on a narrow ledge in the Blue Mountains beside a collection of stones, feathers, candles and bowls of water that I have arranged in a circle?
I am undertaking a ceremony of transformation through one of the most ancient initiatory rituals known to humans; a Vision Quest. The circle of objects is my Medicine Wheel, an energetic portal through which I hope to travel in altered consciousness, to call in & balance the energies of other worlds.
I am invoking the power of the circle and of all the circles, spirals and curves of nature to help me enter ‘shamanic space,’ the place from which my soul expands towards ecstasy. Two currawongs and a goanna watch as I call to Sprit to give me a vision of the mystery that I both long for & fear.
A traditional tribal shaman is a master of transformation who enters altered consciousness or trance states to explore and interact with the worlds of souls, nature and Spirit. He or she seeks wisdom, healing and empowerment for all. Although the word ‘shaman’ comes from Siberia, similar practices are found among original peoples in North and South America, many parts of Asia, Tibet, Australia, Africa and Northern and Southern Europe. The shaman is a master of ecstatic states that give direct connection to these worlds.
Traditionally, these shamans were chosen by ‘the spirits’ for the difficult and demanding task of service to their communities. Sometimes they endured a serious illness followed by a remarkable healing. By their results shamans gained the recognition of their people. Tribal peoples have always had ambivalent relationships with the shaman who is essential to their wellbeing but also feared for his or her powers.
So, what is the relevance of this ancient, esoteric practice to the modern world? 


Shamanism in the Modern World - 2

I believe that the underlying emptiness in the materialistic western worldview has unleashed a growing hunger for reconnection with our deepest selves. At some level we all long to be held in the natural cycles and rhythms of our mother, Earth. Shamanism, released from its cultural and tribal contexts, which vary across continents, teaches that everything is connected. For sophisticated, urban dwellers to relate to this, we’ve needed to make sense of it within our own cultural and educational frameworks.
This includes the teachings of scientific disciplines such as quantum physics. Its description of a field of energy connecting all things echoes the fundamental shamanic principle of a web of life. Psychology helps us understand the three shamanic worlds (lower, middle and upper) in the light of major levels of consciousness. We can relate to the idea of ‘spirit guides’ through the concept of archetypes as developed by CG Jung.  Ecology teaches practical and spiritual ways of caring for Earth and deep ecology helps us to understand that everything is alive and has soul. Cosmology is a window into the mind-boggling extent of our connections to the universe.
While these materialistic supports can help, shamanism is much more deeply rooted in the human body and psyche than such an intellectual approach suggests. It arises from an ancient, soulful, ecstatic, joyful approach to being fully alive and in ‘right relationship’ with our world and does not need the findings of science for validation.
Shamanic practices have survived because they work. Many people find them strangely familiar. Perhaps this is not surprising. As well as being encoded in our genetic history, some of the most recognisable stories and images from major religions have a shamanic sensibility. For instance, Buddha touched the earth and called upon it to witness his enlightenment, Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness and the vivid and exuberant depictions of spirits and demons in Tibet grew from the blend of the Bon shamanic tradition with Buddhism. All of these speak of deep and ancient roots in the mysteries of Earth & Cosmos.
Urbanites who are drawn to this today do not learn the tribal shamanism of old. Instead, they study a neo-shamanism that is still embedded in the sacredness of life, nature and the universe. Now we learn to be, not shamans, but shamanic practitioners, healers or therapists.
While we are not chosen in the traditional ways, I’m sure our decision to enroll in courses such as a Certificate in Shamanic Practices is still guided by Spirit. The training of today continues to be rigorous and transformative, based on surrender, initiation and scrupulous purifying honesty. The capacity to balance the energies of the dark, cavernous underworld, the spirit version of our material Earth and the high vibrational world of the sky, happens paradoxically when practitioners both surrender to and gain mastery over the powers generated in these worlds.
One important, traditional technique that is still taught is the famous Shamanic Journey. In altered consciousness the soul travels on waves of sound produced by drumming, clapping, singing or rattling. It is an effective way to directly access personal and spiritual guidance. People who are drawn to a deeper exploration of shamanism can learn to use this and other techniques to help their communities and the planet in the time-honoured fashion.
Shamanic techniques meet three fundamental human needs – for guidance (known in shamanism as divination), healing and empowerment.
•        Practitioners seek guidance for their clients by journeying into the spirit world and contacting guides for advice and direction.
•        They may seek healing for clients through soul retrieval. This is a shamanic method of repairing the disconnection that can happen after trauma or suffering. Soul retrieval offers a way of bringing a person back to wholeness.
•        They work to empower their clients through a journey to find and install a ‘power’ animal. This animal has an ongoing role in the person’s life and a loving and reciprocal relationship develops.
Many people today have persistent difficulties with the concept of power, often because they’ve had negative experiences of someone else’s power over them.
In a transcript of a radio interview Michael Harner, the Western world’s foremost exponent of Shamanism, explains it in a helpful way, ‘…the person who's doing this work is drawing upon an experience of power far beyond himself or herself...this power comes from harmony…some people might say God, some people might say love. But this power has tremendous strength, & so when you draw upon it, particularly for good purposes, then this energy is there.’


Shamanism in the Modern World - 3

A shamanic way of working
•        Create a sacred or shamanic space using ritual
•        Set a strong intention
•        Surrender through the heart to Spirit and then let go
Shamanic healers work through the energy or light body: the organizing principle or blueprint of the physical body. Michael Harner, on P120 of  ‘The Shaman’s Way’ describes using his free hand to detect variations in the client’s energy field. This is very similar to the assessment phase of energy healing, theraputic touch, theta healing and other subtle healing systems.
The next level is mysterious. Fully engaged in the space of trance or altered consciousness, he or she is free to explore, travel, call for help and seek support or healing for the client. This is facilitated by:
a.           A medicine wheel. A circle of power that links to the six directions of the natural world and is a bridge to the core of being.
b.          Singing, rattling, clapping or drumming. The different frequencies stimulate or harmonise energetic and brain circuits.
c.           Calling in power animals and spirit helpers as vital links to personal strength and natural wisdom.
d.                   Power objects, often carried in a ‘medicine bundle’, including quartz crystals, feathers, bones, wood and other significant pieces.
Such resources provide ceremonial, intentional and creative alignment, but the outcome is left to Spirit. Shamanic practitioners must cultivate a high level of skill so that, although they are not in control of outcomes, they have deep enough familiarity with the spirit world and its powers, to keep themselves and their clients safe.
A skilled practitioner engages four levels of reality with ascending levels of power.
1.          physical – the level of body, matter
2.          mental – the level of mind, thinking and emotions
3.          soul – the level of archetypes, myths, fairy tales – ‘…archetypal energies can be seen manifested in multiple, interconnected patterns of physical form and structure, symbolic meaning and psychospiritual significance.’  Jeremy Taylor P239
4.          spirit – the level of fundamental, essential energy
A shaman cultivates the ability to function in all levels, move between them appropriately, enter and work in other realities and effectively re-emerge into ordinary consciousness when the work is complete.
And what of my vision quest? My notes say:‘All day I have been releasing my pain and fear into Mother Earth. She takes it in and gives me back a sense of ease and sweetness. The mystery is right here before me. It’s made up of release, joy, intricacy, attention, energy, power. I’ve been in the mystery all day.’