Shamanism, Why is it Different?
I gain clarity and nourishment from what some people call ‘The invisible realms’. I often have a sense of having one foot in this ‘other world’. This is the land of the mythic, a land of story, archetype and myth.
As a shamanic practitioner, I’ve used my shamanic skills and my drum to help me to journey to the places that are connected to unspeakable emotions. When they’re found, they start to emerge into the light, to be honoured and energetically cleared. The strength of this shamanic work is that it can help me view my situation more objectively in terms of light or dark energy.
This is how simple it is for the Q’ero lineage I’m connected to.
How Can Shamanism Help?
‘Only if we dare to widen and change our perception, through spiritual practices and altered state experiences, will we know that consciousness is not local, that the brain and body are only our current vessels and that the underlying reality consists of an energetic web, a symphony of interconnected frequencies’
(Mackinnon C p291, 1994)
The land of the mythic connects us to our imagination and offers a golden thread that journeys through life with a creative spark. For me, shamanism has helped me to discover this thread and be aware of clearing the traps, roots and blocks that hold me back on a generational or ancestral/karmic level.
What Does Shamanic Journeying Do?
In essence, the shamanic journey is a way of using rhythm and intention to access the mythic and spiritual realms, through an altered state of consciousness. Often, when I need to find a balance between the inner and outer worlds, drumming or journeying can help me to connect to deeper aspects of myself. Traditionally in a shamanic journey, a person can access advice and help through his or her spiritual allies. In my shamanic tradition, we journey to the three main worlds: Lower/ the underworld ( Ukhu Pacha), the middle world (Kay Pacha) and the upper world (Hanaq Pacha).
Through this process of journeying, we can embody the wisdom we receive into our relationships and every practical aspect of our daily life.(Sandra Ingerman et al)
I use journeying techniques and my intention to access all aspects of the questions I want to ask.
By spending time in nature or ceremony, a shaman is able to access and experience their ‘wild’ or ‘animal aspect’. When we can do this, we can become truly conscious of ourselves. When we step outside of time in nature or ceremony, we can detach from the constraints of being human. Then, we are able to really look at aspects of ourselves with greater perspective
‘Humans are a part of creation and shamanism is our way of connecting with the whole’
Hummingbird (archilochus colubris) in flight, sipping from tropical flowers.
Re-write Your Own Story
Re-writing our stories can help us to feel validated empowered and connected to the earth. It helps us to focus on the more positive qualities and processes we want in our lives and let go of any remaining heavy issues. It works very much in the same way as seeing or vocalising a positive affirmation on a daily basis.
‘Shamanism is not a course, but a life journey’
In the shamanic circle at Unity, we will be empowering and honouring our authentic selves and energy bodies through ceremony and journeywork. This is an invitation for you to fish in enchanted waters and begin the process of re-writing your story in a safe, therapeutic container.
‘At the boundary between eternity and time, Between spirit world and sense world, Between archetype and individual creature, Everywhere participating in the nature of both, and as if forging the bridge
between the two poles that flee each other, There, upright at nature’s horizon, Stands the human being’
Giordano Bruno ( 1448 -1500)
May you walk softly on the earth, with beauty.
Shamanic Practitioner: Ali Rabjohns 2019.
Blackie, S, If Women Rose Rooted, The Journey to Authenticity and belonging. September Publishing, 2016.
Mackinnon ,C. Shamanism and Spirituality in Therapeutic Practice, Singing Dragon, 2012.
A Natural Hot Tub
A natural hot tub lit underneath.
It was a beautiful summer’s evening, just perfect for lighting our natural hot tub in the garden. When we moved into our house several years ago, we stripped one of the bathrooms and took the old iron bath out into the garden. My friend Gaye gave me the idea of turning it into a hot tub and now it’s sprayed copper and in a secluded corner of our garden. It overlooks a stunning view of the downs and fields in the distance.
Sunset with the hot tub.
This hot tub ceremony was really to honour myself, as I’ve been so busy lately. It feels like time is speeding up faster and faster !. The summer has been a very full experience and I’d just been on a vision quest for a couple of days. The culmination of the vision quest ( which I may write about at some point too) meant that I felt I really needed to reflect on the best way to move forward towards the Autumn. One of the most efficient ways for me to let go of heaviness is either through swimming or a nice hot bath.
I opened sacred space in the garden and set my intention to release anything that no longer served me into the water. It took ages for the fire to heat up the iron bath and about an hour to fill it with water, using a bucket – I think I need to use the hose next time!. Anyway, these acts were therapeutic in themselves. I also cleared the nettles around the bath, that had grown up over the summer time. I made a special bath oil concoction with 100 % natural organic Doterra essential oils of geranium, marjoram and lavender mixed with fracturated coconut which I love. I also added Epsom salts to help clear any heavy energy from my luminous energy field.
I placed tealights and candles in jars all around the bath. The air was so still and clear that I could light a candle and the flame would burn true and bright, without any protection. So, I also had some church candles and a few moroccan lanterns placed around, so I could see where I was going in the dark.
The tub got super hot (quicker than I expected) and took ages to cool down enough for me to step into it, which I did once the fire underneath had gone out. There’s nothing quite like sitting in a bath that’s been heated naturally with a fire, with the iron of the bath generating heat as well. Eventually when I sat in it, I could feel myself being warmed through right to the very core of my being and to my bones. It’s so delicious and such a lovely thing to do.
Dreaming a New Vision.
Watching the cosmos.
While I was in the bath, it was almost a full moon ( or just three or four days off), so I could see the moon travelling slowly across the sky. Three shooting stars flew over me and I also heard some tawny owls calling to each other. The air was so still that I could hear traffic and distant music. The trees rustled around me, holding space. It was absolutely divine . I let go of ‘doing’ all the time and enjoyed just ‘being’ for a while. It was time to regroup my energies, a magical timeless experience and perfect for a summer’s evening.
Changing Woman by Susan Seddon Boulet
The Sun and Moon Festival
How better to spend the ancient Lammas festival , the traditional first corn harvest, than at the Sun and Moon festival at Herstmonceux castle?.
I didn’t know that this beautiful castle was also a college in term time! Owned by a Canadian university called Queens, it was bought some time ago when the castle fell into financial difficulties.
The grounds were extremely impressive. There were some of the oldest chestnut trees I’ve ever seen, over 800 years old. We called them ‘The Dancing Ladies’ and there were a line of them just near the cafe.
My Secret Garden
My favourite place was a secret garden behind the folly, where it was a heat trap for dragonflies and butterflies. Here, it was peaceful, magical and utterly enchanting. This was especially so by the water’s edge, by the moat and the lake nearby. We found an exquisite eucalyptus tree, which helped us to ground our ceremonial work while we were at the festival.
Earthkeepers Lammas Workshop
The Sun and Moon festival promoted wellbeing on all levels and I attended some interesting and amazing workshops there, including vortex healing, the Anusha healing symbols connected to the stars and three Goddess workshops. However, the real reason I was invited there was to facilitate two workshops.
One was a creative workshop, where through ancestral work we created a ‘give away’ for the land, woven with five threads and a corn stalk. On a very rainy afternoon, a group of women sat down and worked as they might have done thousands of years ago. We spent a very enjoyable afternoon singing, connecting and laughing with each other. We wove the threads of our ancestors, considering our male and female lines. We wove in our talents and skills as we went.
The second workshop was in the castle itself, this was a flower blessing with sound healer Carolyn Richards. We used the sound of the tibetan singing bowls to take us to the upper worlds. After journeying to the upper worlds we retrieved the highest essence of energy we could for our partner we were working with. Using a red flower to honour our feminine and a white flower to honour our masculine, we dipped the flowers in sacred well water and blessed each other with the words ‘I bless you my brother, I bless you my sister’.
It was a beautiful ceremony and all round a lovely experience, well worth attending next year!.
There is an old woman who weaves the night sky..(traditional song)
There is a woman who weaves the night sky,
See her spin, watch her fingers fly.
She is within us beginning to end,
Our grandmother, our sister, our friend.
She is the weaver and we are the web,
She is the needle and we are the thread.
She changes everything she touches
And everything she touches changes.
(Repeat 3 times)
It’s possible to journey with changing woman, or spider woman at this time of year, what does she have to say to you?.
800 yr old Chestnut in the grounds.
We are the dance of the moon and sun
We are the power in everyone (the hope that’s in everyone)
We are the turning of the tide
My spirit sighs, my spirit sighs.
There is a time to be together, there is a time to be apart
But when our love goes on forever…
My spirit flies, My spirit flies.
See this beautiful article about Lammas by Glannie Kindred here.
May you walk in beauty,
For all our relations. Ali Rabjohns 2017.
My Favourite Parts of Summer Solstice
I love watching the sun rise and I’ve also been taking in the beautiful sunsets over the past weeks. The skies at this time of year are worth drinking in and making the most of. This is the point where the sun starts it’s journey back towards the shortest day of the year, the Winter Solstice. So, as well as an outer manifestation of light – we are also celebrating the return of an inner reflection or journey.
An Impromptu Ceremony
Solstice Mandala by Emma Tuzzio
One evening, I invited a friend to create a flower solstice mandala in our garden. We showed gratitude for all the light available to us (unseen and seen). This is symbolised by father sun Inti Titi and our longest day of the year, the Summer Solstice. We shared a fire ceremony together, letting go of whatever it is that’s holding us back from stepping up and fully shining our lights into the world or participating in networks of light.
Weaving the Solstice into My Every Day Life.
With my students on the actual day of the Solstice, we spent some time creating flower garlands from willow and tissue paper. I shared with them an old creation myth, an old Mayan story about how the sun and moon were born. We sang a solstice song together and went outside in the blistering heat to a place in the shade. I had prepared a felt rope spiral in the grass for us all to walk into the centre, like a labyrinth.
First, we walked into the centre with a rose each to celebrate the birth of the sun and it’s long beautiful rays of light to the west as the sun sets. Secondly, I had some baby bird feathers. Each student took a feather to symbolise the story about the moon and walked with a feather into the centre. The students used rattles and musical instruments to help each other focus and walk along the spiralling path.
Our solstice celebration was surprisingly moving and it felt like such a positive way for us all to celebrate the longest day of the year. We honoured our talents and skills by speaking them out loud to our group. The students helped each other to say what they needed to say by listening carefully to each other.
We also honoured the Christian Martyr St John, who’s Birthday is celebrated on 24th June. This is signified with a huge fire on that day that burns all through the night. The students sleep in their sleeping bags around the fire on that evening.
The Holy Well Spring, Eastbourne
I feel it’s important to weave these earth festivals into our lives in a way that’s manageable and inspiring. I visited a holy well near Eastbourne with my Earthkeeper friend, Carolyn. This is a sacred spring just coming out of the chalk cliff towards the Beach Head end of the cliff next to Eastbourne. It was a beautiful hot and sunny day and there were many people around on the beach, so we didn’t do much except silently honour the spring and Mama Cocha the ocean. Then, we sat at the top of the cliff eating ice-cream !.
Whatever you do on the solstice, may your talents and skills shine brightly for us all.
‘This Place’, a song lyric by Jehanne Mehta
Written in 2009. This is currently in the Earth Pathways Diary.
This place is ancient, a place where the roads meet.
Showing lines in the landscape that were laid down by stars.
The wisdom of the earth has been holding in secret.
Begins to be known again as the years pass.
This place is ancient, a place where the trees grew;
The groves of great yew trees and later of oak,
Where creation was honoured by the old ones, the wise ones
And this place still remembers the words that they spoke.
This place is ancient: great stones mark the sunrise,
The moonrise and star-rise, the cycles of time,
Where the land holds the key to the wide cosmic dance
And we learn where we came from and how to return.
But this place here is new, it is under construction- far stronger than stone is the love that we share.
This place is inward. It points to the future. This place is a temple because we meet here.
For all our relations.
Beltain gathering in the garden.
A Beltain Ceremony
For me, all of life is bursting with fertility and the power of it’s own potential at this time of year. I was very much guided to connect with our hearts at this time and our own feminine/masculine archetypes within us. We had a beautiful ceremony at my friend Sharifin’s house. First, we opened scared space. Then we shared poems and sayings connected with blossom and spring. We made garlands for our heads with blossom and willow.
Male and Female Archetypes
Imagine that you have a King and a Queen archetype in your heart space, what would they say to you?. What would they say to each other?. This is a good time to re-evaluate your relationship with yourself, your friends and family. Sacred water from a local well was available for people to bless themselves where needed.
We went outside into the garden, where luckily the weather was kind to us. A spiral had been laid with felted rope in the grass and little tealights to light the way. In the centre of the spiral was a young maple tree, with it’s variegated leaves just emerging. We took it in turns to drum and rattle each person into the centre of the spiral and out again. Some people walked slowly, some danced and ran!. Each person took his or her own journey. Some had a question for the journey, some held an intention for themselves.
Then, the sun was setting and a sacred fire was lit at the bottom of the garden using the Q’ero tradition. We released what was no longer serving us and welcomed in a light quality in it’s place for the fertility of our future plans and projects. Once we had all worked with the fire and connected with the fire being in the centre, everyone voiced a need to jump over the fire!. The energy was high and bursting with potential at this point. after a time, we all came back together in a circle around the fire holding hands.
At this point, we made a heart meditation and sent healing energy wherever it was needed in the world.
After closing sacred space when the embers had died down, we shared a wonderful array of food together. This kind of event keeps me going for a long time and is a wonderful way of planning the next six weeks for the heart, head and hands.
The earth festivals are a gentle rhythm connected to nature and it’s seasons. They are an organising principle for us humans to set our intentions and let go of what no longer serves us. Why don’t you have a go at creating one yourselves?. I recommend Glennie Kindred’s books wholeheartedly.
May you flow with beauty,
For all our relations.
Breathing and Walking ..
Blossom in my garden, which is in the South Downs National Park.
With such beautiful weather recently, it was time to dust off the walking boots and venture out into the wilds of Sussex for a medicine walk!.
I’m very lucky to be living near the South Downs Way and in the South Downs National Park. What better way to spend part of my weekend than to honour my local ley lines, dragon lines or energy lines, across the spine of the downs from Devil’s Dyke to Lewes.
I took with me corn and tobacco as offerings for the ancestors and the land spirits or elementals who may need sustenance along the way.
My intention for this walk was to find a clear way through a complicated situation I had been drawn into. Walking is great because it’s healthy and it’s free. It gives me such a sense of freedom and happiness when I can see for miles all around me.
Gorse on the South Downs
Walking takes me back to being a child, hearing the larks in the summer meadows and smelling the gorse in Purbeck, Dorset. A friend says that when gorse isn’t in bloom, kissing goes out of season, meaning of course that gorse is always flowering – but it’s particularly gorgeous at this time of year. When I looked up the shamanic meaning of gorse, it said ‘enduring affection’. I loved seeing the bumble bees gathering the nectar from the gorse flowers. That was beautiful to witness and bee energy reminded me very much about the importance of community living. The bee also reminds me of hummingbird medicine, sipping the nectar of life in the sun, a liquid sugar mellowed by sunshine.
Dew Pond near Ditchling Beacon
One of my favourite times was walking through a field of rape. This is a cultivated plant related to the brassica family, so it has quite a strong smell and a beautiful bright yellow colour that would cheer up anyone needing a boost of positive energy. Another special time was seeing the light reflected on the sparking water of the dew pond. There was just so much light out there on the surface !
Philip Carr Gomm inspired me to walk the land in Sussex with his book ‘The Druid Way’ .
As I walk the land where I live, I’m brought back into right relationship with the earth. I find it incredibly grounding and it helps me to be present. I got a sense of the thousands of people through the ages who walked on these paths before me. Different historical filters moved swiftly infront of my mind’s eye as I walked along the beaten chalk paths.
Another beautiful moment was when I walked back through Lewes and stumbled across a beautiful apothecary called A.S Apothecary with natural, local beauty products. I got to try out some of their skin serum on my sunburn. If you get a chance, you must go !
A medicine walk should really be walked alone, as then you’re not distracted by walking and talking. Then you notice the shapes of the clouds and the auditory , kinaesthetic, visual, instinctual messages you may receive from spirit. However, for me walking is also about celebrating relationship and friendship with another.
I’m doing another medicine walk this next weekend – I hope I’ve inspired you to try it!.
If you have any questions about Medicine Walks or would like me to help you create one, please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
May you flow with beauty,
For all our relations.