A healer does not heal you.
A healer holds the sacred space for you to heal yourself.
Don't you know how powerful you are?
A healer facilitates your own healing by opening a channel in which your body can receive vital energy, and then...
Your body knows what to do.
Because its natural response is to heal itself.
The healer guides your mind to silence, allowing your body to take the lead.
A healer can direct your body's own energy, reminding it of what it needs to do, and then your body will do it all on its own.
Allow it to.
You are powerful.
A healer does not heal you.
A healer holds the sacred space for you to heal yourself.
When I was a child, I used to sit on the floor, cross-legged, and, unintentionally, rock back and forth, and back and forth, and back and forth. I would always wander off into a daydream whilst doing this, and I never knew I was rocking until I came back from the daydream and caught myself rocking.
My mum would hate it. I remember her walking into my bedroom more than once, because I did not respond to her calling my name (I didn’t hear her – I was off dreaming), and she’d find me rocking. She’d exhale sharply, and say, “For goodness sake, stop rocking like that – you look like one of those neglected orphan children!”
I suppose I had a sad look on my face? I never really knew what she meant, but it obviously pressed her buttons (more than once). For some reason she associated rocking with trauma.
I never felt sad or lost (or traumatised) while rocking, or daydreaming. I felt calm and balanced. I rocked a lot, right up until my teenage years, and even now I sometimes catch myself doing it without knowing straight away. It was years later, at the age of about twenty, when I discovered through reading and research that many shamans rocked (to drumming, to chanting, or to silence) as a way to reach trance state so they could journey.
Finding this information was like coming home. I remember feeling overjoyed; someone understood; I’d found solidarity! And the more I read, the more I identified. All these things – rocking, dreaming; all my very many dreams I’d had, ever since I could remember – the flying dreams, and floating dreams, and falling dreams, and the people and creatures I connected with through them – now meant something.
It’s a strange thing to feel overjoyed and deeply sad all at the same time. I felt sorrow that I had no tribe; there was no village and no elder to recognise what I was doing and guide me through it, and I wouldn’t be the only one – most children with shaman tendencies, growing up rocking and dreaming in the year 2000, would have to find their own way. It made me realise how much we'd truly lost amid the growth of technology and everything that takes us away from nature and from our spiritual selves.
So I did what I’ve always done: I taught myself. I read everything I could on shamanism and its practices, from Native American, to Celtic, to Siberian, to African. I identified with Native American and Celtic the most, particularly remembering my Native American spirit guide as a child, and the sense of safety and familiarity I felt while in his presence. How I wished I could remember all the words he breathed into my ear when I was three. I could only remember a fraction, but I knew he taught me a lot in my dreams.
In those pre-internet days, I found someone local – a shamanic teacher by the name of Ivan, who was running a training programme. I wasn't one for seeking out teachers, but I felt a need to do everything I had read; to somehow put it into practice so I could grow outside my own mind. But I didn't and never have believed in "gurus" - one should always follow their own path with their own mind. Ivan never portrayed himself as a guru, or as knowing everything, which was good. I liked him on our first meeting. Fair enough, this wasn’t going to be a testing month-long trek through the Amazon Jungle with native shamans teaching me their ways, but it was the year 2000, most tribal villages have been decimated and their shamans (and their teachings) lost to us. It was a start. (And the Surrey Hills was magical enough!)
That was when I found myself on a seven-month long shamanic warrior “death and rebirth” course with Ivan McBeth (now passed away), and while I was doing this, I was still reading and studying. I’ve always been eclectic with my studies – I think how I grew up in my early childhood demanded I look at many different cultures and viewpoints. I eventually found myself reading about the practices of druidry and witchcraft in England, and I found yet another path I could follow. Whereas shamanism spoke to my soul and my undeveloped abilities, this other path spoke to my creativeness and dramatic flair: the path of the witch.
I discovered it was entirely possible to be a solitary witch, and the idea of a coven never appealed to me anyway, for I felt too ingrained with my shamanism through my spirit guide to be fully immersed in the teachings of a coven.
So, in the years 2000 and 2001, respectively, I happily dedicated myself to the path of a solitary witch, while I was also initiated as a shamanic warrior. In essence (and if we’re going to go by labels), I suppose I became a shamanic witch.
I have read so much, and some books were from the library. Some books were given away or lost amid house moves over the past two-and-a-half decades, but I remember some of what I read and still have a lot of those books. The below are a short list of books I found inspirational and helpful while studying and practicing shamanism. Of course, I didn't agree with every single thing in every book, but who does? Books are supposed to make you question, think, and find yourself, and they did just that. (Note: I read these in 1999 / 2000 / 2001 - times have changed, as have I - but they opened doors for me at the time.)
Written by Dianna Hardy, February, 2019. This article was first posted on Between Fire & Ice on 22nd February, 2019.
When I was around twenty-one, I paid rent to live in a self-contained room in a house. The bathroom was separate, but all the kitchen equipment was in the room. The room was on the second floor and had a beautiful view across a green hill and a couple of fields.
I had a wooden, carved snake. A cobra I think. I bought it from an ethnic African store on the High Street of some town in London - it could have been Richmond. It was a couple of feet tall. I’ve always loved snakes – they’re one of my totem animals (a guardian one in fact, but that’s a post for another day). I placed this snake beside my door, inside my room. It was, to my mind, the guardian of the door – I often told myself this jokingly, and I would usually give it a pat on the head when I left the room before locking the door behind me.
I’m sure we all have small, slightly daft things like this we do, that don’t really mean a lot at face value, but we do them anyway for whatever reason that might be. Sports people are well known for having little rituals before a game or a match – it focuses and balances the mind; it makes you feel better, too. Actors will say “break a leg” before each theatre performance, and so on.
Patting the head of my snake before leaving the house was my little thing.
One day, I was on a train heading to somewhere I can’t remember now, but I was going to be out all day, and I remembered, with a sinking heart, that I had forgotten to lock my door.
Now, this was a room where one of the neighbours – a man in his mid-thirties – had walked in by “accident” before. He then apologised, saying he thought it was his room and he wasn’t paying attention to where he was going. (It was the middle of the day, and I hadn’t locked the door because I was awake and busy, and I didn’t see the need.) I was never truly sure if I believed it was an accident – not least because I had been stalked before by someone who did intentionally break into my bedsit (a different one) a couple of years before this.
Regardless of whether it was an accident or not, I didn’t want it to happen again, and I had always made sure the door was locked from then on, even during the day when I was in.
So remembering I had not locked the door, while on this train, made me feel quite upset. There was nothing I could do. Except there was something I could do…
I closed my eyes, and went into that dream state (like meditation) I’ve always been very good at slipping into, and I focused all my energy on my wooden snake that guarded the door. In my mind, something similar to a “spell” formed, and I concentrated my intention on the snake, speaking to it in my mind and willing it to guard the door and attack any intruder who might enter.
I did this for at least five minutes; maybe ten. Time is never something I’m properly aware of when I’m in this state. In my mind, I was feeling for the right time to pull back and end the trance – I wanted to be sure the “spell” - my intention – was fully complete before I pulled myself out.
There was a very loud CRACK to my left that made me jump right out of my dream state with a gasp. I looked to my left, and the entire window pane next to my seat (I was in the window seat of the train) had been shattered by something, and the glass had formed a pattern across the whole pane: tiny diamond-like shapes stretching from one side to the other that looked very much like snakeskin.
That was the answer I was looking for. The logical explanation, of course, is that a tiny stone, or piece of grit had flown up from the track, caught the glass pane at a specific angle (at that exact moment) and caused it to crack.
To my mind, however, the other, metaphysical explanation was also one hundred percent valid: my snake had answered my call, and the spell was done.
Which is the “correct” explanation? The answer is both – they are both correct. Because, as the saying goes among witches, “as above, so below”. We live on the material plane and everything that is “other” is connected to it. The scientist will find logic for the artist’s art (even if the artist does not need it), and the artist will find a spirit for the scientist’s experiment (even if the scientist does not need it).
I long for the day we can – as a collective – accept and appreciate this about each other without disagreeing and arguing. We all walk the same path, just from different sides of the track, and as far as I’m concerned, both explanations – both viewpoints – can exist in complete harmony. As with all things, acceptance is the key.
Whichever view you lean towards, my intention to protect my home came to fruition. The rest of that day went well. I accepted my spell had worked and I let it go, forgetting about my unlocked door (no longer “unlocked” to my mind), and when I came back home, everything was in order, no one had been in my space, and none of my items were missing. Perhaps everything would have been fine anyway, but that wasn't the point - the point was my well-being and balanced state of mind. We can always help ourselves, even if we think ourselves helpless. Many laugh at the thought of "prayer", but prayer with intention is very similar to what this was - if done right, it is energy focused and directed. The power of the mind is phenomenal and the second greatest tool we have as human beings. (The first is the ability to love.)
My wooden snake … I can’t fully remember what happened to it. I think it broke at some point over the past twenty years and went to wooden-effigy heaven (yes, that’s a joke). I didn’t feel particularly sad about it because I don’t believe items hold power on their own – only the power we give to it – but writing this down has made me think it would be nice to get another snake.
Perhaps this time, I’ll get a real one.
Written by Dianna Hardy, February, 2019. This article was first posted on Between Fire & Ice on 21st February, 2019.
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