Did She Really Say That?
I knew that shamans were, among other things, masters at communicating with the spirits of the dead and that this was meant to be healing for all involved. Like many non-initiated Europeans, I also imagined that shamanism was typically South American and involved being intoxicated and dancing naked around a fire somewhere in the Amazon. Omar, darling, come on, bring it on. "Having been born and raised in South America is no guarantee to shamanic enlightenment," Omar confessed during our first shamanic retreat in Italy. The truth is that there are shamanic traditions all over the world and that using sacred medicine plants is no prerequisite for shamanic healing. I emailed Maestra-shaman, attaching a summary of my experiences. She replied in less than a day and we talked over Skype. Shamans can also be modern.
Shamanism is not "New Age," it is Stone Age, and has been living ever since (4). It is the oldest form of spirituality, and I was ready to take the path. My first important realization was that reality is multidimensional and that it expands beyond what human beings perceive. This has been a key feature of shamanism throughout history. Shamans travel to other dimensions to gain understanding of what happens on earth. With the knowledge and power gained from these non-ordinary experiences, they come back to ordinary reality and release suffering. Shamanic wisdom includes an original awareness of unity and the understanding that perception is based on our own fragmented belief systems. Embracing the path of the shaman consists of learning to release the ego structure as much as possible, allowing the whole to be manifested in the process. This is the spiritual dimension of the practice, which is accessible to absolutely anyone.
Some might state that I am just a lunatic. I jumped out a window dressed as a yellow canary perched on overpriced stilettos. Fair enough. Let me remind you, however, that the only ritual that I ever performed under such avian circumstances comes down to a daring escape from life. I tried to commit suicide. There, I said it. Tony was being unfaithful to me, and LouLou had just died. I am not selling patchouli sticks for an equinox new moon in Sagittarius conjunct with Chiron. As much as I believe in experiential astrology and enjoy incense, one must face the fact that too much patchouli killed the patchouli. I must, however, still have lavender in my handbag. Unless Omar smudged it in an attempt to clean energies, which he did each time he ran out of Rescue Remedy. My pharmacist once told me that if you’re having over forty drops a day of the magic potion, you might as well just have a glass of whiskey. Her recommendation did not fall on deaf ears. Did she really say that?
(4) Michael Harner, Cave and Cosmos: Shamanic Encounters with Another Reality (Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 2013)
From Shaman Express, Beretta Rousseau, 2018, Chapter 1 "Alive"
Photo by Yaoqi Lai on Unsplash
Shaman Express by Beretta Rousseau (2018) is available for purchase online.