I have noticed over the last weeks that I have been spontaneously speaking of my ancestors at various opportunities. A sign that the power of Samhain is rising up to be expressed as this is a time for the ancestors to be remembered. I have a altar in our home that honours the ancestors so its is part of my regular practice but at this time of Samhain this grows and the focus is stronger. In many ways so much of my healing journey has been about learning about the stories of the ancestors and how this is played out in me. To transform the wounds and honour their gifts that I hold one such gift was celebrated today. I am just back from a walk over 14km around Loch Levan here in Perthshire. The day was Dreich with regular Sumps of rain (Scots for it was a grey day with down pours of heavy rain). The wind was howling and fierce carrying the regular calls of the geese and songs of the swans as their wings fly with the wind. In the time I was out I only met three people accompanied by their dogs who like me were enjoying this extreme weather. This willingness to be out on the land in all weathers is a gift from my father who as a young child encouraged this. I recall one Christmas day when I was about seven out walking in a snow storm hearing under the winds “I am glad were out in this” “why?” I shrieked, “so we can experience it” This attitude he gave to me, which goes beyond a walk in a storm has been a blessing in many areas of my life. Now back in the warm and dry I feel very alive and like I have been through a profound experience shaped in some way by this time with the elements and the land. Over the weekend of November 23rd/24th I am offering a Introductory to shamanism weekend “Remembering our Shamanic Way” here we will explore and learn practical effective and safe methods of engaging with shamanism as a support for our lives. Full details are up on the website please get in touch if you would like to come or with any questions. Reclaiming shamanism for ourselves as natural practice of this land and across all cultures, can be seen as a gift for the ancestors of the future. New possibilities in our relationship with ourselves others and nature open and become reality. So in honour of the ancestors across the veil and for those yet to come I continue to deepen into the blessings of these ways.
Over the years shamanism and ceremony has brought me to a direct and ever deepening encounter with nature as living and sacred. So how does this help me in my everyday life? Well when I stumble, falter and fall in my daily doings this encounter makes the journey back to my centre, creativity and power so much clearer and easier to navigate. This week I was in a situation where I listened to people highly critical of climate activism, describing it as a cult as well as questioning if there is a problem at all. Science and people across the world offer a conflicting view however shamanism gives us a opportunity to find our own truth and power. In my own work if I feel and observe how we are treating our home the Earth and all life upon it including each other it is clear to me that there is a issue we need to address! I see Shamanism as a branch of activism and of this awakening addressing these issues and offering spiritual solutions beyond our personal lives. I asked in a shamanic journey earlier this year about a possible climate disaster and the answer came “if we told you would it stop you planting the trees, working with ceremony and your healing work with people and the land” my answer was clear I am simply to carry on in my work because it is my work and what else am I to do but follow my heart. This encounter with the sacred through shamanic ways and ceremony supports inspires and brings me back practically to a reality that has been with me since I was a child. It also offers this old but new dynamic and creative relationship with nature our earth and each other in what I see as our community to all, as it leads us to release what does not and integrate what does support our lives and contribution to the whole, and we all have one to offer. In response to this and my wish to offer a learning experience for this I have a number of workshops planned to open and deepen to this encounter and to learn practical ways of working with nature as a living and visible face of spirit. I also am offering a course on learning the shamanic journey as a opening to this path and a pragmatic method of engaging with spirit. Full details on my website www.oakenleaf.co.uk
COMMUNION WITH TREES a nine month course starting Saturday 29th September 2019 opening to a animistic relationship with Trees of our land. REMEMBERING OUR SHAMANIC WAY a weekend course to learn and use the shamanic journey as method to support daily life held on the weekend of November 23rd/24th. MEETING THE LAND AS SPIRIT a three day course on the weekend of 27th/28th/29th March 2020 over these day we will work with nature as many shamanic cultures understand as the “visible face of spirit” and that includes us! On the Saturday evening we will have a ceremony with the land. ELEMENTAL JOURNEY a series of five day workshops to deepen and work with over a years cycle the five elements of Air, Fire, Water, Earth and Spirit, starting with Air on Sunday 22nd March 2020.
I was part of a ‘spiritual and transformative’ group in early 2000 that dramatically imploded. We were a gathering of dynamic and creative woman and men though this could not acknowledged by the ‘teacher’ and the system we were taught under. The downfall of this group was that we never addressed our shadow and this energy was not brought into the light. This experience was a challenging but transformative one for many of us for others it became quite destructive. I have found within me is a flow of potentiality from extremes of a concentration camp guard to a shining compassionate Buddha. I say this as I do look and meet what is within me both of shadow and light and in many ways as a result of my own personal story embracing my light became a more challenging encounter. Facing my own shadow and light has been a courageous blessing and certainly has brought a easier flow to life as I have found once I start to navigate within its easier to find my way outside too. What I found however is both mine and not mine and through various process I work with I can bring these aspect of being human I hold into the light of awareness. (If they are there then they are there and its more helpful to know they are than to deny or pretend they are not!) I say both me and not me as when you look into this stuff some of its is ours some we carry for our ancestors and our culture, others are conditioned societal responses all that go to form our personality for ‘better or worse’ and this all goes into the mix of what we present to the world. Shamanism pushes on the areas that are ‘weak’ in our lives and will strengthen the areas that are already ‘strong’ ultimately this process leads to a integrated wholeness that asks us to take responsibility for how we play in the world of both ‘shadow and light’. The more aware we are of this the more integrated and natural way we can be in the world as we are in a process of no longer being a slave to this conditioning there is a gap between our responses to events before us. Working with shamanism beyond this form I have encountered a deeper more authentic flow that we could call the essence or spirit of who I am, my souls expression, connecting with this opens up so many new possibilities for a personal creative expression and offers a more authentic place to bring form to our essence. Shamanism and our helping spirits leads us to this then we may enter a process to express or resist this quality of that ‘which we are’ rather than what we are in our everyday life this unfolding brings the potential of great freedom and creativity. I personally have found it to be a daily dance between personality and essence and sometimes I am in a perfect step and flow and sometimes I stumble and fall without doubt though I am making ‘progress’. In our society we are seeing this dance as while a new awareness and direction is rising up with people owning personal power and authority the shadow is pushing hard to dance out its dance both personally and collectively and if the prophecy of the Mayan is to be, this may well be its final dance. Maybe the blessing of Brexit here in the UK is that is has shown the system that is said to govern us for what it really is, so what is left? Well that which there has always been our own personal authority and our own personal nature. This is why shamanism excites me as it is to this place of our authority and authentic nature that it invites us. As a child I knew this place and bounced my way through the various systems as I tried to express this till with no support it wore me down and I had to find a way to survive. My healing journey began with awareness in 1999 and shamanism has been with me since 2006 and is giving strength and a growing carefreeness to bring this nature of who I am out into the light. The process of disentanglement from our personalities so we can play the game in our everyday (as we need it here!) while honouring that essence of what we actually are is a beautiful journey to take a courageous journey for sure but one that is full of riches. Once we encounter this essence we can start to identify with it we may well find we can loosen up on life. Shamanism has been such a blessing as this has been a path I have had to walk. A mantra could be ‘I honour my shadow I honour my light I honour and express the essence of that which I am.
As part of the core of my work in opening and deepening to a respectful and sacred relationship with all life I am just finalizing details of workshops for 2020 which all hold my own soul signature. A three day course in “WORKING WITH LAND AS SPIRIT”, as well as a series of five one day workshops over the year connecting and relating with the elements of “AIR, FIRE, WATER, EARTH and SPIRIT” full details/date for 2020 will be up on the website over the next days. I also will offer ‘REMEMBERING OUR SHAMANIC WAY’ as a two day introductory workshop to shamanism on 23rd/24th November 2019.
I have been a companion of bees for a number of years; this relationship has walked hand in hand with my shamanic path. I see that bees hold a wisdom which humanity is reaching for, such is the rise of interest in “bee keeping”. How we listen and interpret this wisdom though is an individual journey to take. I would like to offer that bees as an expression of nature hold a great wisdom and this is a story of how my recent encounter with two colonies of bees and a group of humans moved and shaped my life into a new direction, one that I am sure the bees orchestrated. I recently was involved in bringing two colonies of bees to a large working community of people close to where I live. The community decided on the new site for the bees as I carried a hive with a friend I recall saying “we have the whole universe in our hands!”. When I am with a colony of bees I am in awe of the way they operate and something happens deep inside me a quiet and stillness comes to me. My approach to being a companion with bees is to build a relationship with them, observe and listen and ask of the bees what is needed, as well as using shamanic journeys to meet the spirit of the bees both of the individual hives and the spirit of bee, along with conversation with supportive people this offers a rich source of information to support the bees . Any interventions are then done using the information gained from these methods and offered as sensitively as possible with minimal and only necessary interventions. Both hives from this way of listening were calling for space which I gave to them by increasing the size of the hive, very quickly one colony began to thrive. The other colony I soon realised came with no queen and was struggling. I used my methods to find a solution that involved the bees input and would sit with the hives regularly and watch their comings and goings. Then there were murmurings from the community that bees were coming to the flowers and they were worried about being stung! I spoke with people in the hope of reducing the fear. Then one day I arrived and the hives had been rearranged, another bee person came looked at them and decided that everything was “wrong!”. Honey was taken from the hives and the space the bees were asking for was removed and the colonies were split! The original idea of the bees being allowed to be as a support for the land was over and a farming and resource approach was imposed. On a personal level the pain I felt was deep and strong the grief of how we relate to the earth opened up in me through this experience; I fell into a immense sadness. I called out to find a solution from the spirit of bee, I got no clear answer yet the following events unfolded. I spoke with a number of people and out of these discussion I went to meet a woman who has a number of hives all kept in a natural beekeeping way. When I arrived she had a visitor and I was left to be with the bees, soon I went deep inside and felt a connection with the bees and from feeling the aliveness of the garden I understood the impact the bees were having on the land and environment I was standing in as well as me as part of the environment for these moments. When she returned I listened to a number of stories about her experiences with bees, as I listened the grief I was still feeling started to drain away and by the time it came for me to leave I was with a great admiration for her and the bees as well as full of joy and inspiration. I left with a understanding that I had never experienced before and what I dreamed was possible with bees I now had just experienced. I felt how bees shape land and environment they really are alchemists. As a result I am now involved in discussions about setting up some kind of advocacy service for natural bee keeping here in Scotland. On a personal level as someone who is inclined to be a lone worker, this involvement with the bees has opened up something in me of working with others with both the advocacy service as well as the synchronicity of being asked to be a trustee of a biodynamic garden. It seems my involvement of working with bees directly as well as with the spirit of bees has opened and shaped a new direction in my life and old patterns are slipping away. Jaqueline Freeman in her excellent book “the song of increase” talks of the hive as a holy place. I met the hive each time as a sacred encounter and trusted in the wisdom the bees held and worked with the guidance both of the hive bees and the spirit of bee offered. My role as human was to listen and shape the environment to support the bees as they did there magic to the land. I also became unexpectedly a voice using language that met the people involved for this way of being with bees, a voice that largely was met with silence. This experience has changed me and new projects are on the horizon as a result. I understand this has come from an encounter with the wisdom the bees hold and meeting the bees in this holy place and maybe orchestrated by the spirit of the bee itself. I know when we engage with spirit our life will change and my story with the bees I see as a direct example of working with shamanism as opening a sacred relationship with life one I keep saying is much needed in the times we live in. So while it was a deeply distressing experience personally so much is opening from this and I can only wonder that this was orchestrated by the bee spirit? The group that made decisions about the bees decided to move them away from the community as there was too much concern about the bees being with the flowers! I wonder what there experience of this has brought to there life? Shamanism is rooted in the earth and offers a respectful encounter with life and one that is earth centred if we can open to find the questions and listen well to the answers that spirit and nature gifts us our relationship with the earth changes which brings us to a more natural rhythm. In Natures Sovereignty we work with the understanding that “nature is the best manager of nature” if we can listen and allow this to be so, and act for the earth and all life what kind of world would this be and what would we humans become as a result? It would be a radical move away from how society is now but the wisdom may well be with us if we can listen.
A climate emergency has been announced in the UK and politicians talk of the “great steps being taken to address this emergency”. If we accept that we are in a emergency what action can we each take to respond to this call and what role does something like shamanism offer to this? A memory comes to me as a young child while at my first school witnessing new born mice being drowned in a glass jar. I became so upset distraught and hysterical, it was really my first direct witnessing of the cruelty of humans, the rational for their death was we have to many. It would be easy to see my response as a over reaction from a overly sensitive child which of course is how the school saw it and I became a problem child with issues. However if we go deeper I was aware of a knowing that all life is sacred and as such is to be respected. My reaction came from this truth in me being crushed. It seems clear that humans still see nature as something to be managed as our own natures are sought to be managed by the hypnosis of media and societies conditioning. If we are going to address this climate emergency as a whole, how can we learn to live with nature as a part of nature? How can we become open to think for or like the earth and open up to expressing our own unique nature? Every action we take has a impact the ripples will flow out across the collective. The deeper I go into our inter connectedness through my own spiritual practices the more I feel this to be a reality given to us by time honoured wisdom – so what we do does make a difference! It is a relatively new occurrence for humans to not turn to the spirits for guidance, working with shamanic ways brings new possibilities and invites an emergence of our own nature as well as a return to this respect of all life and honouring of the sacred. If as a society we each lived this what kind of world would we live in? One where our unique nature is encouraged as a expression of the sacred. These things may well not be resolved in our life time however I believe we have the wisdom available to achieve this, so what is needed is a willingness to try. I do see I am making progress in this and working with shamanism opens me to a more natural way of life one that holds respect and honours the sacred connections of us all. It will push on areas that hold us back from expressing who we are and strengthen the areas where we do. To live this in daily life in our current society I find is a challenge but wherever I go in my daily reactions this is the place I drop back into when I give the space to it in my daily practices my own encounter with shamanism supports and helps me reclaim this. In preparing for my upcoming tree course I have read a number of articles where science is understanding trees are alive in ways they did not know before. This is a move back to a animistic world view and if we are to address our climate emergency then animism surely has a part to play where we see the earth as a living organism that we are a part of and not as a resource for humans to take from. Along with my ongoing sacred activism events I am currently developing some workshops giving opportunities to deepen into this. I was told once there is very little each of us can do so we had better do something. With the discoveries I am making with shamanism and my connection with our earth what else am I to do! There are amazing things happening in the world currently as we are pushed to move in a new direction and we each have a part to play.
Walking with the land is a rich and powerful part of my daily practice; to walk as a part of the natural world brings many health benefits. I work with the local cycles of nature as a indicator of where we are within this cycle. Here in Perthshire the hawthorn is not in flower as yet, which is when I acknowledge the full arrival of Beltane. However the creative power and fertility is really moving and the land is changing daily- It is a real joy to feel and witness this. We may well feel this creativity and fertility flowing through us at this time as well as we are part of this natural cycle. So may the fertile and creative blessing’s of Beltane be yours.
Here is a update on upcoming workshops. In July I am offering a day event, “creating and working with altars” as well as a Friday evening and weekend workshop “ceremony for everyday and everyone”. I aim for this to bring a strong support for our daily spiritual practice .
These workshops are open to anyone that feels they may be helpful to them so no shamanic experience needed. I again am offering the “remembering our shamanic way” in June, a weekend introductory to shamanism workshop.
In September I am very excited to offer “listening to the trees”, a nine month journey of partnership and friendship with the trees. This is a series of 9 day workshop to grow deep relationships with the trees for healing, guidance and wisdom. Full details of all workshops are up now on my website, if you feel these would support your spiritual and shamanic life, do get in touch.
The shamans role is to build partnerships with helping compassionate, and over time, trusted allies in the spirit world. The spirits have a greater view for our life and see us in our creative power rather than how we may see ourselves in perceived failings. It is from the spirits that the solutions and healing for our problems come, then it is for us to us to do something in the everyday with their guidance. People I have learnt from who grew up with shamanic ways use ceremony and listen to the spirits to maintain harmony and health of individuals as well as the community and this is very much a living and regular part of their cultures way. Shamanism is thought of as the oldest spirituality on our earth and is still very much returning today to our western culture. It is a fairly recent phenomena for people to not believe or consult the spirits for help which maybe why shamanism often feels familiar for people. So what can shamanism offer us today? When I am challenged in my own life I find a question to bring to the spirits for there input and guidance. Having worked with the spirits since 2004 I have a deep trust based on experience in the answers that come and have trusted enough in my own helping spirits guidance to sell a house and move country. This trust in spirit has payed off and has brought a life that I could not of imagined or conceived from my own viewpoint. Learning these ways has brought a resource that has opened up life in so many unexpected ways. In our culture we face many problems and uncertainty in many areas and there seems to be a broken trust in a political system to address these for the good of all life. Maybe what is needed is inspiration for a new vision one that we cannot conceive from our current viewpoint and turning to spirit once more may be a way this inspiration can come through us and out into the world. If it can happen for individuals could it not happen for our society as a whole? In my lifetime I have seen a huge growth in people seeking a new and different way and finding many ways to express this through a variety of spiritual practices. Shamanism is one of these ways and as ever for global change we start with ourselves and our own lives. Working with the question, “how do the spirits see me?” opens us to see ourselves in a new way. You could work with this in a shamanic journey or in meditation or ask this when out in nature and see and feel what comes. When I have done this in my own practice over the years the answer that comes has changed though it is always more than I can see or imagine. Seeing myself with the eyes of spirit has inspired me to step beyond my comfort zone and into a richer life and when challenges come from taking that step the spirits are there to help and guide. The spiritual journey is a amazing one to take a courageous act for sure but as we take those shaky steps the spirits step with us too. I wonder if we will return to a time where this trust and turning to spirit is our cultures way and open to this inspiration once more?
There are two upcoming workshops “remembering our shamanic way” and “ceremony for everyday and everyone” I also am planning a day course “creating and working with alters” and a ongoing course “stories from the trees” details will announced soon, for full details on workshops and booking please see the website http://www.oakenleaf.co.uk/?page_id=42
I was told this story at the beginning of my learning with shamanism
“A western teacher for a time brought indigenous shamans over to the UK from all across the world to teach workshops. Each time he did this he would get many requests for 1:1 session’s with the visiting shaman. No matter where they were from in the world when he told them about this he would always get one of two responses! Either a look of confusion or side-splitting laughter! ”
The concept of one to one in shamanic cultures is unheard off. This is because they would understand the interconnectedness of us all. The health and wellbeing of each person would be seen as the responsibility of each one of us as would a person’s individuals healing.
So if someone was in need of healing, all would turn up to support the shaman in his work it was seen as a community event as this persons need would affect each person in the community as indeed it would impact their relationship with the environment, for a true community is all life, people, trees, water, animals, soil, birds, insects, rocks.
Now just take a moment as I invite you to stop reading and ask yourself what this understanding if it was a part of our way, would mean in our modern society? Can you hold a vision for what this could be and how we would interact each day within our communities?
I have been on an active healing path since 1999 and still am. There are challenges that I need to attend too either that I will need to take to the spirits or get help from a trusted friend. I have come to see that to commit to a healing path is a commitment for life.
However as each burden within me is given attention and transformed within the tapestry of my life a ripple goes out, my life becomes richer and from this grows a deeper connection to all of life and from this, deep respect emerges and from this, a willingness to serve life expands out.
Bees have come to my life over the last years, they come as teachers, not as a honey supply. This story I have shared with you is a way of life for the bee and the more I connect with the way of bees the deeper it takes me into the heart of this story.
Each action I take or word I speak or thought I think it goes out influencing the web of life! Shamanism offers hope for our world, for as the growing experience of a deep connection to all life unfolds, and shamanism offers this possibility the ability to cause harm weakens, as if you bring harm to another (including our earth) you harm yourself, as indeed if bring your love to another you deepen your love to yourself.
Two new dates for workshops have just been finalized, The first in June REMEMBERING OUR SHAMANIC WAY is a weekend Introductory course to shamanic journeying the root of shamanism. The second is a new workshop, CEREMONY FOR EVERYDAY AND EVERYONE held over a Friday night and weekend in July and is an invitation to bring simple ceremony into your daily practice to inspire strengthen and hold you.
Full details are available on the workshop page please contact for booking or with any questions.
Trees have always been very important in my life. As a young child, I was involved in the management of a local woodland. I still visit this place and now with shamanism have worked with clients and my own personal ceremony within this ancient bluebell woodland. Our relationship built over time is deep and we know each other well.
Living in Scotland I love the magic and wildness of our lochs glens and mountains. I have found though I really need to be close to trees for my own wellbeing both physically and spiritually. Trees touch me deeply and soothe me. Some of the trees close to me I have been visiting for many years as you would a friend.
My work has a strong emphasis on the spiritual being grounded in everyday activities. A part of my spiritual practice is planting trees and more recently I am learning to grow trees from seed, so our garden is holding an emerging forest! I recall I planted over 100 trees over three days in our village. On my return home I was so happy and if I had died at that moment I felt like my life would be complete.
As a daily practice and as part of my Celtic ancestry I have learnt the symbolism of trees and I use my imagination in a circle of trees in my inner world. Indigenous cultures would see imagination and spirit as the same thing it is a powerful practice and one that is manifesting out into the world.
Over the next weeks, I will be planting two sacred circles of trees that will have a dedication to peace. One will be a place people can visit to be at peace and as a circle to go for contemplation. It is interesting to see my inner world manifesting in the physical world and this inspires my sacred activism.
There, is something very exciting happening from our children going out on strike demanding action on climate change to the growing interest in spiritual practice. My action with trees is an example of my shamanism expressing itself as sacred activism. I would be very interested to hear how you practically express your spirituality.
I have just created a new workshop to offer “CEREMONY FOR EVERDAY AND FOR EVERYONE” This will be held over the weekend of July 12th/14th. Its aim is to lead students to build confidence and understanding so that they are able to work with a ceremony as a personal daily practice and hopefully if they wish to offer to their communities too.
A daily ceremony has been a strong part of my daily practice for many years and is ever evolving. It holds me and gives space to allow inspiration and creativity to flow through and provides conditions of healing in my work as a practitioner with clients. I am really excited to offer this to others so they too may find benefit.
I am just writing up and reviewing my workshop ” Energetic Recycling” which will be held on March 16th/17th 2019. I am looking at the opening and the place of the Altar.
I have worked with Altars for many years and have come to have a deep respect for their place in a workshop or ceremony. I always extend an open invitation for people to contribute objects to the altar as they love to grow and it helps people prepare for our work together before we meet, thus all our stories are woven into the event.
Alters bring a focus and power to the work and can be as simple as a tea light or created for a single event and purpose such as a workshop and even worked with over many years as in my daily alter that I sit with at the beginning and end of my day.
To sit before a alter I find is quite different to not and lets us know that what we are about to engage with asks for a different level of attention and focus to that which we may use in our everyday tasks and will bring power to our sacred work. As with my workshops, I do not repeat the Altar but create a new one for this specific time and group.
What goes on a alter is unique for the purpose we are working with. In my home, I have an altar to my ancestors both of blood, place, and tradition. I have a simple one for the spirit of the house, garden and land that surrounds me and I have one that has grown over the last 10 years or so, which has the elements and other gifts from nature as well as candles, stones, and crystals for specific aspects of my work.
I also have created alters out on the land, working with the spirits of place and with the stories of the land and with the natural objects as well as energetic connections. This has helped me greatly to become to see the earth as one alter and deepen into a sacred relationship with this visible face of spirit as many cultures speak of the natural world.
So maybe this is something you may consider in your practice to create altars, play and have fun with this and see what grows and if it supports you too. It can be a fun creative practice and as shamanism holds the animistic view your alter too will have spirit and can help guide you as to what is needed, or simply as the question “what is needed for my alter” and open for it be shown to you.