Showing posts from 2012

LATE POST: How Shamanism aids an Aging Brain

Near the end of November, I went to a conference on Behavioral Health and the Aging Brain. Although it was for my mental health job, I found myself looking at certain aspects of Neuropsychology and Neurobiology within a Shamanic viewpoint.

Many physicians, psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers spoke about the need to continually utilize the brain as humans age (especially past ~50 years or so). The field constantly emphasizes the need to learn new skills and hobbies, but this conference spent a large chunk of time focusing on Meditation (as increasing both quality and quantity of life) as treatment/prevention of mental illness and dementia disorders.

(I'm not able to directly link to the academic article used in the lecture, but here is a similar one from the magazine, Psychology Today ).

The academic article recommended a "prescription" of 5 hours per week of Meditation (any kind, as long as time is set aside for this new skill). The lecturer, from one of my …

LATE POST: Shamanism for Sunday School Kids!

Well, a month and a half certainly flew by! Get ready for numerous updates, cause I'm a bit behind!


About a month ago, I was asked to help a dear friend with her Sunday School children. She was teaching a segment on Earth-based religions, and wanted to introduce the children to Shamanism by using a Guest Lecturer.

I felt very honored that she thought of me, and immediately started thinking of how to entertain a group of highly active, giggling boys for a full hour! I remember how I liked to learn at the age of 9-10; lots of visual aids and little-to-no lecturing. So I decided that I would have plenty of pictures on my powerpoint presentation, as well as tactile items, for the kids to play with.

The week before, I streamlined my powerpoint to include the very bare bones of Shamanism (what is known as Core Shamanism ) and put in lots of beautiful pictures of different cultures, different animals spirits, and differe…

Plant Shamanism: For the Love of Rosemary

I love the Rosemary plant.

Rosemary is a great friend of humanity, especially during the colder, winter season. Somewhere, in my many life experiences, I heard that Rosemary can help with depression (and SAD). Since then (I think it was during college), I've always kept a large stock handy in the fall and winter, when I feel particularly blah and lazy and unfocused.

Back in 2011, I learned to approach the Rosemary plant shamanically, with the intent to start & strengthen our relationship. After Journeying to her during my classes, I learned the following:
I have a yummy spicy hardy scent!I can dispel Anxiety and Depression, and help to sharpen your focus so that you can Act with Intention:I can stop the feeling of "being trapped in fear" when both depressed and anxious.I am a brain stimulant, and can affect your levels of Serotonin.I can grow in hardier soils, and I call to animals & critters which will eventually enrich the earth.And I am a "conduit for Magi…

Introduction to Shamanism mini-class

This weekend will be an exciting one; I will be presenting a short "introduction to shamanism"class to a group of Sunday School kids at a DC church this Sunday!

Shamanism covers such a wide array of cultures, practices, belief systems, etc. that I'm not sure just how to shorten it for their attention span. I'm thinking lots of pictures, animal symbolism dictionaries, and rhythm instruments!

I'm hoping to figure out how to add PowerPoint slides to this website, so that you may download it. Any hints from more technical-minded readers?

Keep an eye on this space for the write-up!

The Removal of Emotional Pain

In writing a new client, I was asked about my specific shamanic skillset and training.

In my head, I giggled, because I pictured all of my fellow graduates in Avengers/Power Animals costumes! <--Coyote appreciates the hilarity.

Shamanic healers are trained to facilitate spiritual healing in a variety of ways. We can reduce pain, speed physical healing, assist with pregnancy issues, reduce symptoms of disease, etc. We can bring messages to loved ones, and receive ones for our clients. We can work with a variety of Spirits, especially those of the Land/home, and help settle the relationships between a family and their House. We bless and honor the community with which we work, and help facilitate important growth periods (and death periods). And we can call you on your bullshit, if you lie to yourself about who you are or what you do.

Each person I graduated with has exceptional skills in different areas above, and I love coming to them for my own healing.

But I am well-trained in sp…

Further lessons in Coffee vs. Tea (by way of Acupuncture!)

My poor body.

In the past few weeks, I've had poison ivy, allergic reactions to medications (resulting in secondary infections, ugh), eczema from hand lotions (really?!), bloody noses, and extremely dry & chapped lips.

In addition to these symptoms, I've also been at extremely low energy levels. I have just enough to make it through the workday, and then I collapse onto the couch at home. Sometimes I can't even look at my computer for a few days, and my Archery exercises have dropped from 2-3 times per week to once per week.

What is going on with me?!

I crawled into my car and made my way down to one of my own healers, Niall,  for some much needed answers and a "body reset." 

In working with him, I discovered that skin conditions (and the excess dryness in my body) are related to Fire (in Chinese medicine). As he placed the needles at necessary points in my skin, I began to Journey, and ask my Spirits for healing. And this is what they had to say;


Plant Medicine and Food Allergies

As I discussed in my previous blog entry, I am learning about creating healing relationships with plants, and increasing plant medicine in my life (and my clients' lives).

I recently discussed the concept of Food Allergies with Howard Charing, during one of his lectures, and he gave a little bit of his philosophy on GMOs and the folly of messing around with plants and ecosystems. As that is a rather big topic to cover in just one blog entry, I will save it for a future article. However, he did highlight an interesting idea regarding food allergies: Howard stated that both genetic disorders (like Celiac Disease) and acquired food allergies point to a possible lesson from the specific plant.

"What is that plant trying to teach you? Why is it such a difficult lesson to learn? What function does that plant have in your life? What are you ignoring? Why are you afraid of working with that plant?"
Whoa! Tough medicine indeed!

A quick Google search shows that food allergies are …

Plant Shamanism lecures

Recently, I have been listening to Howard Charing's online lectures on Plant Shamanism, and how to work with plants for personal healing and Earth healing.

It is incredibly interesting, and I am also amazed at how far technology has advanced! I am online in Maryland, and he is online in Romania, and many of the other students are from all over the world (South Africa, the UK, across the US, etc.).

In the past two lectures, I've listened to him describe how to begin relationships with plants. Most of his relationships are with plants from the Amazon, and they have wonderful healing properties. However, I am not making my way there anytime soon, and so I want to work with what's around me here in the Eastern US.

As a Druid, I am immediately drawn to trees. I have found that trees function as a "stress buster" for me; on particularly rough workweeks, I have an almost visceral need to take a walk in the woods to relax!

The Celts also had a great love of trees, so much…

What happens on a Healing Appointment?

As I work with new individuals, I am often asked, "What should I expect on an appointment with you?"

Each shaman usually has his/her own routine, that can give a basic structure to the ritual (but also allow room for spontaneous changes/additions). Most of the time, I am able to follow this structure, but sometimes, the Spirits flood my brain with images and I end up doing something completely different!

After I welcome a new client into my home/office, I take care of a few hospitality issues (Water? Need the restroom? Nervous-type questions?), and we make our way into my altar room. I will have my drum, rattle, stones, plants, etc. prepared, as well as a soft mini-bed for the client to lie on. I'll also set up a few pillows for the friend/loved one who has come to witness the Healing, and give moral support for the client (bringing a friend is always welcome, and can take away a lot of the anxiety!).

Once everyone is as comfortable as can be, I begin by honoring all the…

A symbol is needed!

Calling all artists! Especially those who can draw better than me:

I swear that my ears really aren't that big...

Anyway, I'd love to create a symbol or image of some sort that I can put onto business cards, online articles, blog posts, etc.  Something more than just the serene gaze of a Coyote looking out across the distance...

It's got to symbolize the combination of hilarity and healing, as well as unique. Got any ideas?

Giving birth to the Great Project

It's almost September already, and I feel like this year has zoomed by!

I graduated from Gryphons Grove School of Shamanism at the end of April, took a month to catch my breath in May, and began my professional healing practice in June. I've had three excellent months of meeting new people, working with them on their private concerns, and solidifying my relationships with all the Spirits in my head, as well as meeting some new ones (see how I met Artemis!).

As I've continued to balance both my physical work of Psychologist with my spiritual work of Healer, my Spirits hit me with a profound question:

What do you want to do with your Training?

This question knocked my off my paws, because in truth, I hadn't really thought about it! I had just assumed that after graduation, I would become a professional healer, and work with those who found their way to me in Parkville, MD.

Not good enough, they said in my head. Too easy.

And they're right. It's too easy to just wri…

Stick a needle in a coyote and what do you get?

... A surprisingly relaxed Coyote!

Today, I visited one of my favorite healers, Neighborhood Acupuncture. I've visited them every few months for the past year and a half, and have become good friends with some of the practitioners there.

Now, as someone with a few tattoos and regular blood tests (yay modern medicine), you'd think I'd be all right around needles. And for the most part I am; I don't enjoy it, but I can turn my head away and take a deep breath and think of something else for a bit. But although I'd always been interested in acupuncture, I would shake with anxiety every time I approached an office. And then we'd slink away, tail between our legs.

Maybe it was the mystery of it, or the unknown amount of pain it might entail, but I never had enough guts to just do it.

Until I met the practitioners at Neighborhood Acupuncture in Laurel, who explained the steps of an appointment exactly, and described the varying ranges of "uncomfortability" …

A funny synchronicity about Artemis...

I've been practicing my archery skills for a little over ~4 months now (see my previous post about Red-Tailed Hawk!), and I've started to feel a bit of a poke in my brain from a Goddess of Archery...

Synchronicity, in a shamanic perspective, is one wonderfully obvious way for a Spirit or Deity to begin communication with a shaman. For me, it begins with with a lazy daydream or an idea about a particular animal or myth. I'll Google it, and then read a particular line or two that really make me think about either a deity's philosophy, or I'll start seeing a particular animal Everywhere.

I had enjoyed some of Artemis' mythology, and was interested in getting to know Her a bit better. But I wasn't quite sure if she was interested in talking with me. So I "set up" a way for the Universe to give me a really obvious sign. This set up has to have a few mandatory items:

1. A specific physical manifestation (either a picture in a book, words in a song on a …

How a Coyote learns a lesson in Focus from Red-Tailed Hawk

One of the most difficult things for me, during Journeywork, is to maintain my focus on the images that are flowing through my head, and to follow them to their logical (or bizzare) conclusions.
Working with Coyote, who likes to flit about as much as I do, it's doubly hard. On the one hand, I've gotten very good at splitting my attention in at least five different directions. I can hear one animal in part of my head, see a shadowy intrusion inside a client, hear my teacher's voice singing her sacred songs, blink and visualize my hands into paws with claws, and listen to my client's questions.
However, on the other paw, when working with Bear, he is very specific about the level of intense focus I need for certain workings. It can be dangerous, if I am not paying full attention, and I can lose myself, or a part of a client that I am bringing back.
I am not the best person for fully focused mediation, preferring activities that keep both my body and mind busy on a tas…

Another step in my journey of Reiki Healing

Hurray and Huzzah! I received my Reiki IIIB healing attunement at Free Spirit Gathering this past month!

This achievement has been about 3 years in the making. I first heard about Reiki from my Senior Druid, back when I was a member of Grove of the Other Gods, ADF. I was having a bit of manic anxiety and high levels of stress, and she offered to give me a session. Immediately, I felt a tingling sensation over my shoulders and back, and could actually feel the calming, soothing energy flow out of her fingers and into my body. For the first time, I was able to actually feel something real!

During my first pagan festival, I saw that Reiki attunements were being offered, and I was a bit wishy-washy on signing up. Eventually, I swallowed my nervousness (Would I be able to feel anything? Would it work? I'm not Japanese, does that matter?), and went.

My teacher was very knowledgeable, practical, and logical. She was able to explain Reiki energy and healing in a very scientific, non-fligh…

Stuffed Monkeys need healing, too!

A few of my more recent healing appointments have been remote healings, and so I thought it might be a good idea to describe what may occurr during these appointments.

Essentially, the only main difference between remote healings and in-person appointments is the physical presence of the client. I set up my room the same way, I set up the blankets and furs/pelts the same way, and I make sure that I have my stones, tools, drum, rattle, and other items.

But instead of having the client sit or lay down in the middle of my room, I use either a picture, or a stuffed animal to represent who I'm working on:

(I'm a big fan of monkeys, so I have many to choose from for remote appointments!)
And then I conduct the appointment, following the same guidelines learned in school or spontaneously given to me by my Spirits.
Because I am not directly interacting with my client, I may give guidelines over the phone/via email before the appointment, along with follow-up questions afterwards. I c…

Deer Antlers

Free Spirit Gathering was a wonderful experience. For the first time in numerous years, there was not an official Shamanic Healing ceremony in the Labyrinth, so me and many of my friends relaxed and worked on our own healing. I received my Reiki IIIB attunement, and observed a healing with Phoenix fire in order to facilitate a healing for a friend. Many of us also received acupuncture and energy healing from Neighborhood Acupuncture.

On the last day, we learned that the woods around the Labyrinth had been clear-cut and treated with heavy-duty pesticides. This was a bit of a shock, as the area always had such wonderful energy for healing and meditation. My friends and I walked to the Labyrinth, bringing gifts of milk, honey, wine, and song. As I asked for healing for the land, I spotted a two-point deer antler, shed by a buck a while ago. I brought it home, cleaned it up, and tried to figure out its message.

In a wonderfully psychic twist, upon arriving home and booting up my computer,…

Healing Ceremonies for the Community

This weekend, I will be attending the Free Spirit Gathering, in Darlington, MD.

I first attended this festival a few years ago, while I lived in NYC. This place is where I had my first Shamanic Healing Ceremony. This place is where I met my Teacher, Caroline Kenner. And this is the place I return to, year after year, in order to "reset" my brain, get away from my normal, everyday life, and work on my own Healing.

Last year, I was a Senior Student of Gryphons Grove School of Shamanism, and worked with a few of my classmates and Caroline in performing daily Healing Ceremonies at the Labyrinth in the Woods. I really enjoyed the experiences, as I was able to trust my vision the more clients I worked with. I also grew in confidence, and learned how to trust my instincts when faced with things I've never seen before.

This year, I may not assist in as many Healing Ceremonies, as I am looking forward to my own growth and healing. I hope to join a Sweat Lodge, as my last Sweat w…

Cross-posting for a friend regarding the philosphy of Magic

June is quite a busy month! I had my very first private, professional healing ceremony, and now the floodgates seem to be open (the whole month is almost fully booked already).
I read a well-written article by a friend of mine, which discussed an interesting philosophical viewpoint of magic in a Druid context. As with all personal blog entries, I agree with some of his views, and not quite others (in the same way). But it certainly got me thinking about how Shamanism falls in between Magic, Therapy, and Divine Healing.


(original article can be found here)

"To begin with a discussion of magic in Druidry, one must begin with a discussion of magic in modern Neopaganism and the occult movements as a whole.
Most definitions of magic trace their roots back to Aleister Crowley's: to him, magic was "the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will." Crowley commonly spelled "magic" as "magick," using the "k" to diff…

"Hello stranger, can I ask you about your spirituality?"

I've had a bizarre week.

During my social hours, I've begun a new friendship*. I met this person through a group of friends, and so it was pretty easy to integrate her into the rest of my group's silliness and laughter. However, I've been having dreams and strange flashes about her all week!

 It first began when we were all trading embarrassing stories from our childhood-- things that seemed so traumatic back then, but are ridiculous with the hindsight of experience. She spoke about a particular experience when she was 13, and how she called for help for a situation, but didn't receive any. As she told the awkward finale, I immediately blinked, daydreamed an image of shadowy intrusion, and then blinked back to normal vision. I thought I might have projected the image, so I ignored it.

Ha ha ha, guess you can see where this is going...?

I dreamed about her that night, and she had somehow been injected into one of my mundane work dreams... paperwork, computers, plant…

How Coyote works best at rehabilitation clinics

Healing through Laughter: that's been my motto for the entire length of time that I've worked in the mental health and human services fields. However, Coyote is not usually the first Spirit that comes to mind when thinking about Healing...usually it's Bear (who is a great lover and healer of humanity), or sometimes Wolf, or even a variety of birds (Eagle, Osprey, Hawk, etc.). And while I enjoy working relationships with many of the above, Coyote and I work best in large groups.

Humor, as a social construct, is difficult to teach, and difficult to explain. Who can tell what one will find amusing, or the difference between "laughing with someone" versus "laughing at someone?" Throw in a thought-disorder and it becomes doubly difficult.

Coyote's tricks are usually played out as tricks upon himself. He becomes the safe person to laugh at/with, because he's already done something so idiotic, and failed, that he is the first (and loudest) person to be…


Yahoo! I've graduated from Gryphons Grove School of Shamanism!

I received three different Graduation certificates (available under "Awards & Certificates" page), as well as my Lantern and Shamanic Elder beads. Caroline giggled, as she called me the "Youngest Elder" and fed me Elder berries!

This school was a life-changing experience. I started my education while still living in NYC, and traveled from Queens to DC and back at least 1-2 times per month. After over a year and a half of all that travel, I finally made the move down to Maryland, and had a much shorter commute (5 hours down to 1 hour!).

My dear friends and classmates have helped me through my Father's death, the ending of relationships, the changing of jobs, moving south, and adapting to a completely new way of life!

Although I have graduated from this school, my education is not at an end. I shall keep the focus of this blog, Tales from a Shamanic Apprentice, because I have so much more to e…

The subject of Fear in Psychopomp work

Last week, my Grandfather died.

He lived to be 82, and had a good death. He was able to die and then come back long enough to say his final goodbyes to many of my family at the hospital. I am so thankful for that, and I am thankful that a relative was able to perform his Last Rites.

His death occurred on the New Moon of this month (April 21st), which is a day that I have set aside for personal Shamanic Homework. As I am focusing on Psychopomp work (see previous entries), I found that I had a great amount of fear and grief that kept me from Journeying.

In previous times, if I was fearful, or lazy, or procrastinated too long in my Shamanic Homework, I would arrive in the Otherworld to a verbal lashing from my Spirits! The general Two-by-Four that hit me over the head repeatedly was, "How can you expect us to work with you when healing clients if you won't get off your ass and learn the work?!?"  Of course, after a few bites and Dismemberments, I went on to have some pretty…

Ecumenicon Presentation

This past afternoon, I had the honor of presenting at the Ecumenicon Interfaith Conference. I was presenting on Shamanism, and how it can be used to help Substance Abuse clients.

Here's the short little blip that I wrote for the website:

Shamanic Approaches to Addiction; Terrapin; Saturday, 3:00 pm; This class will give a quick overview of basic neurobiology & psychology of addiction, and introduce shamanic/spiritual theories of addiction. Students will have the opportunity to explore direct knowledge of addictions through Pathworking/Shamanic Journeys, learn about co-occurring disorders of mental illness, hear personal stories from addicts themselves, and practice skill learned in-lecture. Sounds pretty cool, huh? Well, after brainstorming my outline, I decided that there was no possible way to fit in all of the above-mentioned things into 1.5 hours, so I had to do a bit of tweaking. I mainly focused on specific counseling techniques, how substance abuse/dependence are d…

Another Ancestor Dream

I was walking with my sister, Teacher and classmates into a grocery store. We stopped at a freezer to get something, and then we were under psychic attack (?). Caroline encouraged us to gather round, and began chanting the name of all the Egyptian gods. They appeared in the sky overhead! Isis, Nepthys, Osiris, Khnum, etc. And then I began looking for Anubis (saying, "Where's Anubis?" in my dream). I turned to my sister and said, "I love my religion! When we call for help, the gods really come!"  As I kept calling out, looking for Anubis, I was transported to a small village in very ancient times.

This village had about 40 people, in a forest-type place, and of course, I was drawn to the Dead. They were kept in stone bairns/cave-like structures. The bodies would be covered in white, on a ledge or table, with lit torches at the head and foot of the ledge/table. The stone caves had an inset wall, and I didn't smell any rot...

Children were playing in a cleared…

Thoughts about a Purge-Ritual

It's taken me a while to post this (had to back-date this entry for the time it actually occurred!), as the Purge-Ritual really through me off my whole routine for almost an entire month.

A Purge-Ritual, from what I understand, is used for personal self-work. Deep self-work, with a capital D. I had been looking forward to this ritual for weeks, and I was happy that my fellow classmates were going to be with me, so that we could support each other.

Psychologically, I had felt as though I was stuck in my routine, of work, home, class, etc.  I was very happy to help with the Shamanic Healing Circle back at Sacred Space 2012, but I was out of practice, and psychologically, I was doubting my abilities, and having a hard time shoving my Ego out of the way to get the Work done. This was reflected in the healing work I had done for myself that day, and in the omens that I had pulled from my Runes and tarot decks.

One of the largest lessons that I learned (well, re-learned) immediately was…

More dreams about "Sea Eagles", and incredible synchronicities

Well, had another dream last night in which Sea Eagles were showcased. I don't remember nearly as much information as my last entry, but I do remember searching for feathers, finding some in a grassy clearing, and then the "guardians" of the clearing (who were Lions?!?) challenged me by trying to eat my face (they didn't quite, and then I woke up).

The feathers and birds that I saw in this dream had more of a mottled brownish/greyish color, and the feathers had both tan and dark brown/grey stripes. They were GIGANTIC- as in, almost three feet long, and very very skinny.

I am here at work now, taking a break from client reports, and began searching for more about Sea Eagles. I'm not always a fan of Wikipedia (as the information is only sometimes accurate and cited), but I was blown away by the images and writings on the White-Tailed Eagle . I scrolled down while reading, and as I came upon the Pre-History section, I almost fell out of my chair: "On Orkney Sco…

Dreaming of Death and Skara Brae

I am running through a large house and hiding, trying to protect myself from another tribe's magic-workers. I feel anxious and sad when I am finally found, because I know that I am to be put to death. As I am taken back out through the house, I look for a way out, an escape from my captors. I can't seem to shake them.
We eventually end up outside, on a large boat. I am being guarded as we head back to the other tribe's area (the imagery is of hunter-gatherer society, very early, and very Celtic-themed).
One of the seers from the tribe that has captured me takes a bird to the Chief/Captain, saying that "it is a good omen for them." It is declared a "Sea Eagle" and given to me, after the seer snaps its neck. I cradle the bird to my chest (heart chakra?) and observe it not to be dead at all, but wounded/disabled so that it can't really move or fly. I feel that I have to hide the bird's "aliveness" from my captors. I start thinking of magi…

Broken jewelry at the Conjure Dance (or How Coyote gets my attention...)

Sacred Space 2012 was incredible. I was able to work with wonderful & special people during the Shamanic Healing Ceremony, and visit with friends & loved ones during my volunteer work hours at the Author's Table/Registration Desk, and really let loose during the New Orleans Conjure Dance!

The particulars of the Dance are better left for my more private journals, but the general summary is that I'm out of shape, my feet and calves were killing me for 3-4 days afterwards, and THREE DIFFERENT pieces of jewelry were broken (one right after the other)!!!

After a good night's sleep, filled with wacky silly dreams, I woke up the next morning with sore muscles and a pensive mood that lasted the rest of the Conference. What happened to my jewelry? Is this some sort of Two-by-Four message that I'm just not understanding? Sacred jewelry breaking during a sacred dance, that's gotta mean something, right?

So I began pestering my friends during the rest of my time in Lau…

Sacred Space Conference this Weekend!

This weekend is one of my favorite spiritual conferences, Sacred Space, in Laurel MD. Many of my fellow students will be involved in a Shamanic Healing Ceremony during the opening day (Thursday).

Shamanic Healing Ceremonies at large conferences are set up as "drive-by" healings. If there are more than three-four shamans, then everyone sets up their equipment in the middle of the circle, and clients approach a shaman for healing. Everyone gets a healing at the same time, and so it can be a bit chaotic, but interesting to watch. If there are only a few students, and/or the shamans weren't able to bring many tools, then the shamans bounce around to different clients (who remain seated) and perform the healings there.

I enjoy these Healing Ceremonies, as I get to practice my skills, interact with new people, and introduce clients to a new form of healing that they may never have experienced before. Also, as the Ceremony is right at the beginning of the conference, I'm ab…