What tools do you need, to be a Shaman?

Shaman's Tool Basket
Shaman’s Tool Basket

What tools do you need, to be a Shaman?

We’re having this conference, next week — perhaps you’ve heard about it by now?  It’s the Earthways Shamanic Path Gathering 2016 and you can learn more about it at our new website .  Before I had even finished lining up all the speakers, people were asking me, “Will you have vendors?”  Yes, we are having vendors, but more importantly, the Conference is about EXPERIENCING aspects of Shamanism:  learning how to go on deep meditations.  We call these meditations, “journeys,” and the skill is called, “journeying.”  Throughout the conference, you’ll have the opportunity to go on many different journeys for many purposes.

Shamans come from all over the world, and customs differ from one place to the next, but when I go journeying, I like to have a comfortable place to sit.  I like to wear comfortable clothes.  I prefer shade if I am outdoors.  If I’m outside I wear a sun hat.  I like to smudge myself with locally dried tree flowers.   I like to use a rattle to make a rhythmic sound.  And, when I have completed my journey, I like to record my experiences and quench my thirst.  Those are the basic needs.  Inherent in that is a list of objects: Chair, clothes, shade tree, sun hat, dried flowers, bowl, lighter, feather fan, rattle, notebook and pen, water.  Some extra things that I have found helpful are: a candle, a blanket or wrap, favorite talismans (I have some special necklaces, and some post card sized pictures, and family relics) a cloth to set them out on, and a pouch to put them in. I have a rattan picnic basket I put most of that stuff into:  It is my Tool Basket.

It’s that simple, really.  When I am teaching classes about Shamanism, I tend to bring a lot of stuff with me, for illustrative purposes.  And, when I am conducting special Ceremonies, for example, a Welcoming Ceremony at our Earthways Shamanic Path Gathering, then I would have more items, to decorate an Altar.  More candles, flowers, statues of totem animals.

I’ve been practicing Shamanism for a long time.  I have everything I need. Yet, I have a fondness for rocks and shiny-sparklie things.  And I understand that many people are new to their Journey,  and don’t have what they need to Journey comfortably.  When you feel comfortable, your confidence as a Shaman, increases.  So, yes, there will be vendors at the Earthways Shamanic Path Gathering and there will be opportunities at the Gathering, for you to make some of your basic Shaman Tools:  a rattle, and a pouch.

Share Your Peace With Mother Earth, Father Sky, and the Big Waters, All Around Us.

(c) 2016, Whale Maiden

Do you see the wind?

When it is windy, Honorable Shamans and Fellow Pagans, do you see it? What do you experience, when it is windy? If I’m indoors, I see the effects of wind: I see the flags flapping, and I see the tree branches and leaves whipping. A leaf or two may roll by, like a small tumbleweed. But that is not the wind, itself, just a manifestation of the wind.20160321_102639

If I go outside, I can hear the wind, whistling through the tree branches or leaves. (Am I hearing the wind, or the tree, reacting to the wind?) While outside, I can feel the wind hitting my face, my arms, and wherever it hits.

And, while outside, I notice that which direction the wind is coming from. And I note, this is a cold wind, bringing cold air and temperatures down from other parts of the country.

When I talk about the local seasons, our local wheel of the year, I must remember that a marker of Fire Season, is Wind.

How do you see the wind?

Share your Peace with Our Earth.

(c) 2016 Whale Maiden

Being In The Shamanic Flow

I don’t have a very long commute to my office, Honorable Shamans and Fellow Pagans, and some days it seems to take me a very long time to get out of my house.  But today, I’ve realized that part of the work of being a Shaman is knowing that I am exactly where I am supposed to be, all the time, no matter what time it really is.  When you are a Shaman, you step into The Flow.

My little town has some boulevards:  roads which have two lanes going North, a lovely landscaped median, and two lanes going South.  These are also called, “divided highways,” as you’ll see in my picture, here.

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My town also has more than its share of people driving around  who are just visiting.  I mean, they are tourists or snowbirds:  they aren’t from around here.  They get lost,  easily and frequently.  So this morning, I was driving towards this   “T” intersection, where a two lane road, meets up with this 4 lane boulevard, and I watched as a little car headed into the intersection, and then, instead of going  around the landscaped median and South, he made a tighter left, to the South, and began coming my way in the North bound lanes.  I stopped short, honked the horn, and flashed my lights and got his attention.  And by this time, I was straddling both North bound lanes, much to the confusion of the car behind me.  So, I ‘held space’ for the little car.  After a moment, the little car moved around the median and proceeded very slowly South.  And I made my way to my office.  No matter what time it was, I had arrived there, on time.

You can learn more about this at our upcoming Earthways Shamanic Path Gathering, April 15-17, 2016, here in Fort Myers.  Follow this link to our Registration page.

So I say, See the Magic in Your Land.  Feel It.  Feel your connection to the world all around you.  And I say, Share Your Peace with Our Mother Earth, Our Father Sky and our Big Waters that surround us.

(c) 2016 all rights reserved, Whale Maiden

What is a Shaman?

One day a friend of mine asked me, “What is a Shaman?” I said, “a Shaman is someone who is somewhere between a priest/priestess, a healer and a teacher.”

There are shamans all around the world, and there have been since time began. Or at least since humans began.  Some people become a shaman because they grew up in a tribe or other indigenous close-knit community, and someone in that community taught them the knowledge of healing and divination that was handed down over generations.

Other people, like me, didn’t have the knowledge handed down to them from family members, but felt a “call,” to become a Shaman.  I’ll write about this some more…

I believe we are all connected through energy.  I am connected to people, plants and trees, animals and minerals.  All these are beings, and have an energy pattern that can be seen/felt and interacted with.

One of the things Shamans do, is go into Altered States of awareness.  That means, they do something to change their energy, to change their vibrations.  Some Shamans ingest plants or beverages that change their awareness.  In my case, I meditate.  I dance.  I make sounds (tones).  I listen to music.  I play a rattle or a drum.  The noises and the movements, change my vibrations, change my energy.  Once I’ve done that, then I feel calmer, and my senses are heightened.

If I do a walking meditation, which is part of a Shamanic Nature Trek, then, when I am outside and calm and relaxed, I see more of the plants and animals and minerals around me.  The colors are more vivid, the sounds are more pronounced.  I get in tune with the vibrations of the plants and animals and minerals around me.

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Also while in an altered state, I travel to the other worlds to meet with my animal guides and spirit teachers.  We all  have animal guides and spirit teachers.  I go on these journeys to solve problems and help myself and other people.

Since being a Shaman is a way of being, it becomes the way you operate.  So I say, See the Magic in Your Land.  Feel It.   And I say, Share Your Peace with Our Mother Earth, Our Father Sky and our Big Waters that surround us.

(c) 2016 all rights reserved, Whale Maiden

The Edison Festival of Light

There are many festivals in Southwest Florida during Fire Season, Honorable Shamans and Fellow Pagans, but the “granddady” of them all — the biggest display of lights, is the Edison Festival of Light Parade, which honors Thomas Edison and his many inventions, and it comes to Fort Myers, February 20th.

One way you can tell it is getting to be time for the Parade is to go downtown Fort Myers this time of year, and inspect the sidewalks.  Chances are, you’ll see duct tape on the sidewalks, like this:

Marking Our Spot for the Edison Parade
Marking Our Spot for the Edison Parade

That’s right.  This time of year, people put tape of different colors on the sidewalks along the Parade Route, to reserve  “their spot,” and as far as I know, this system works.  As it gets closer to the actual Parade Day, people will put out yard chairs.  This has been going on for over 30 years.

Southwest Florida has over 1.5 million people in six counties.

Fire Season is coming February 15th

So, Honorable Shamans and Fellow Pagans, the Wheel of the Year is turning as we speak, and Fire Season is almost here in Southwest Florida. We are winding down the rainiest Dry Season I’ve ever seen.  In the Earthways Shamanic Path, we observe the Seasons right where we live and honor the turning of the wheel of the year, with ceremonies for them.  I use Southwest Florida in most of my examples because that is where I live.

You may recall that in Southwest Florida, the spiritual aspect of  Dry Season is a time of respite after Hurricane Season, a time to enjoy the beautiful Florida weather before the bulk of the Tourists arrive.  This year has been unusual, in that we have had  11 inches of rain in January.  The average is just under 2 inches in January.

One of the physical markers of Fire Season, which starts February 15th is that the temperatures have been dropping.  People turn on their heaters, or start their fireplaces:  the smell of smoke wafts through the air.  We get skies with just a bit of haze in them from the fires.   One of the big thing that happens in Southwest Florida (from October to April) is the burning of the Sugar Cane fields prior to harvesting it.  You can read more about sugar cane harvesting .  Fire Season runs till about mid-June.  At the tail end of Fire Season, the thunder cloudes start forming and we start getting a lot of heat and lightning, and eventually, forest fires.  To prepare for forest fire season, this is the time of year when foresters do “prescribed burns.”  This clears the underbrush to minimize the risk of fires later in the year.  Sometimes, these perscribed burns get out of control because of unexpected winds.

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palms after a fire, January 2016

The final physical marker of Fire Season in Southwest Florida is that we are teeming with visitors:  Every street and highway is full.  Doctors’ offices are full.  Churches are full.  The list of festivals to attend each weekend, is staggering:  it isn’t possible to attend every festival that you want to.

We will be having a Fire Season Celebration on Wednesday, February 10th from 7:00 PM to 8:30 at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fort Myers. (UUCFM).  Come about 6PM for the Community Dinner.  Then, we will gather — probably starting in Room 4, and have a ceremony to honor the end of Dry Season, and the beginning of Fire Season.

And, Share Your Peace with Our Earth.

~Whale Maiden~

~~~ ♡ ~~~

Although the Earthways Shamanic Path is based in Florida, it can be celebrated anywhere. You just need to explore the magic of your land. What is it saying to you? What are the seasons, where you live? What do they mean to you? How are they celebrated?

Join Whale Maiden in the discussion at the Earthways Shamanic Path – Facebook Group

(c) 2000 to present, Whale Maiden. All Rights Reserved

Brighid and the Groundhog See Their Shadows and Go Bowling

I must confess, Honorable Shamans and Fellow Pagans, that the Pagan sabbat that I know the least about is Imbolc.   Imbolc is approaching on February 2nd.  My pagan friends used to explain this holiday to me as it was when the Lambs arrived and the Ewes began lactating.  You will find out  more about Imbolc here

My local CUUPS Group is having an Imbolc Gathering on Tuesday evening, February 2nd. The announcement says, “We will Gather at 6:00 PM to invoke the Triple Goddess Brighid. We celebrate the first stirrings of Spring. We will gather in the Amphitheater in Holton Eco-Preserve of the UU Church of Fort Myers. Our intention is to call for protection and blessings of the Waters of the World. We will especially focus on our waters of SW FL and the Everglades.”   I understand “First signs of Spring,” and “nursing Lambs,” in general terms, but it hasn’t quite fit my reality here in Florida because in the Florida Earthways Shamanic Path Wheel of the Year, this time of year it is (NORMALLY) Dry Season, and we are headed into Fire Season.  I’ll cover that in the next post.

When I was growing up Unitarian Universalist in the Northeastern USA, I loved the whole liturgy  about the Groundhog — Punxsutawney Phil — coming up out of the ground to greet the guys in their top hats  and to see his shadow.  My Mother taught me about Groundhogs’ Day.  She said it was half-way between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.  This is a factoid my young, rational mind could grasp:  It’s six more weeks of winter, no matter whether Phil sees his shadow or not.   But I remember how happy I was when the days began to lengthen and the snow began to thaw, and the mud began to return.  And I loved the days when muddy footprints would freeze up.   I remember waiting for the signs of Spring.

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When you are a kid,  you don’t have to “deal with your shadow issues,” because you are a kid and you are actually busy accumulating shadow issues.  It is left to maturing people, to inspect the cold dark places of their soul, and thaw them  out with sunshine, so that new shoots can grow.  And this work of deep introspection, and the radical growth of springtime, is incredibly told in the story in the movie, Groundhog Day,  which you can look up here  on the IMDB .  The movie stars Bill Murray, and Andie MacDowell.  In this movie, Bill is a weatherman and he wakes up February 3rd and discovers it is Groundhog’s Day, again… and again… and again…   it’s like rolling gutter balls repeatedly, until something miraculous happens.

And, Share Your Peace with Our Earth.

~Whale Maiden~

~~~ ♡ ~~~

Although the Earthways Shamanic Path is based in Florida, it can be celebrated anywhere. You just need to explore the magic of your land. What is it saying to you? What are the seasons, where you live? What do they mean to you? How are they celebrated?

Join Whale Maiden in the discussion at the Earthways Shamanic Path – Facebook Group

(c) 2000 to present, Whale Maiden. All Rights Reserved