Today's podcast guest, Juliette Woods, is an incredible mix of mystic, mother, spiritual guide, creative, and earth spiritualist.
In our conversation we talk about...
We cover a lot of ground in this long-form conversation that feels like a lengthy stroll down the beach on a drizzly day...picking up wise little stones...giving the selkies a wave hello and wink or two...remembering the seal skin tucked away in our own closets.
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I'll Have What She's Having! is a visionary interview-based podcast highlighting the real-life experiences, embodied wisdom, life path stories, and inspirational creative offerings of WONDROUS women. This podcast invites women from all walks of life (and men too!) to meet at the beautiful intersections of our unique lived experiences. Joining together in a quantum circle for laid back, fireside, magic-at-the-kitchen-table, no-holds-barred JUICY conversations about everything from creative projects, community innovations, business, sex, intimacy, relationships, motherhood, grand adventures, dark nights of the soul, self care, intentional life ways, sacred practice, necessary rebellion, and those hilarious *this-legit-happened* stories that will have you laughing. We hope you'll feel at home. That you'll laugh enough that it'll count as an ab workout. That you'll heal and soften a little bit. That you'll feel deeply connected. And certainly, that you'll celebrate each other. Welcome to a podcast where conversation becomes medicine.
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Stepping into Ceremony
When we are well prepared and present to intention,
we set the stage to safely step back and allow healing to move through us
without trying to control or struggle toward a perceived goal;
opportunities unfold to perceive medicines and divine wisdom
greater than we can imagine.
An Initiatory Experience
An initiation marks a distinct time of "before" and "after". The kind of experience that, at its extreme, will feel like a complete life over-haul, almost like we have been reborn or achieved a new level of depth/height in awareness. Everything is somehow different or has shifted in a fundamental or cellular way.
Often it is a rite of passage, deep ceremony, intense personal medicine work, vision quest, or healing event that creates a significant shift in the way we relate to and experience the world. It steps us into a new phase of life or welcomes us into a community previously unavailable to us. It applies also to unplanned events like serious illness, accident, or tragedy, as well as natural life stages such as birth, puberty, menarche, labour/birth/parenthood, coupling/uncoupling, menopause, eldership, and death.
As I have learned it, there are 3 distinct phases to an Initiation.
Severance. Threshold. Integration.
Others may have different names or words to describe them, but the essence seems consistent in my experiences and observances so far.
The preparation phase. This is the lead up to the experience, and is when the healing work actualy begins. Sometimes as early as the moment when we commit to the opportunity. We go through a phase, consciously or not, of acts of letting go of our life as we know it, saying Goodbye to all that is familiar, releasing our grip on the anchors that make us feel stable - patterns, beliefs, relationships, perceived goals and desires, daily constructs, ways of relating, ways of being, ways of thinking - and cutting all ties to the way things are.
If you recognize you are in the Severance stage, you can support and deepen this process by:
This is where we cross over from the "before" to the "after". It is the Experience that changes us or the culmination of experiences that leads us to a pivotal threshold or doorway to step through. It may be marked by ceremony, ritual, vision quest, dark night(s) of the soul, a period of deep healing, or it may not even be fully recognized while in the thick of it - particularly when without the witnessing of community or when the experience(s) are viewed as trauma without resulting gifts.
When in this stage, you might support and deepen the experience by:
Often considered the hardest part, and sadly too often overlooked - integration occurs when we are able to Return to our usual life and keep the gifts we have acquired intact. We are challenged with bringing our internal shifts outward to affect change in our day-to-day living and resist falling back into old ways of thinking, reacting, and being. Many times this transition isn't easy, might be messy, and perhaps feels a bit chaotic as things shake up in order to fall into more harmonious places. Touching in with any community, elders, or teachers that held us through the Threshold phase can be a wellspring of anchoring resources.
When in this stage, you might support and deepen the experience by:
A few years ago I wrote some practical, hands-on, tips and suggestions for integrating the medicines from the Threshold, and bringing all of the unseen, personal, inner work Out into our mundane living experience. If you would like more on the Integration phase, find yourself post-ceremony or have recently undergone a personal healing session, please read "Integration ~ the often overlooked time after soul-work".
If you would like personal and direct support as you move through any of these stages, you are welcome to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or book a consultation.
Marj from Basmati.com interviewed Juliette along with invitation to begin writing for their website. Below are the written and telephone interviews that touch on Juliette's personal path, her private practice, and a summary taking us from her introduction to the shamanic way to where she is now.
5 Questions, Answered from Juliette
Basmati: Describe yourself in three words:
Juliette: Wayshower of Remembering
Basmati: What is the greatest challenge you have overcome/are overcoming?
Juliette: Learning to navigate an over stimulated society as a highly sensitive creature.
That is what I see when I look to the root of all of the more surface layer challenges. I have come to learn my nature is very much like the ocean tide; flowing in fully and bringing up treasures from the deep unknown, then ebbing back into myself, retreating into that mysterious unknown before returning once again.
I am always learning more about how “extra sensory” I am, how to preserve that in a good way and to transform it from burden to medicine. Learning how to embrace this sensitivity and still function efficiently without becoming overwhelmed or burned out, that is at the root no matter what form it is presenting me with.
Basmati: What is unique to you about your work?
Juliette: I think there are 2 things that set my work apart from what I see around me.
In my teaching programs I aim to support the reclamation of a person’s heritage traditions, ones that resonate with each individual rather than give over a set lineage to follow. My aim is to offer a comprehensive structure with room to tailor and fit into day-to-day living, recover forgotten cultural practices, and encourage strong “best practices” for safety.
Another aspect is my background in neurofeedback. I draw on my knowledge of brainwave patterns, “trauma imprints”, and how they both manifest as behaviours or nervous system imbalances. This gives me an additional layer of information and ways of working when receiving clients.
Basmati: How do you guide clients into their own healing/inner freedom?
Juliette: My intention is to always empower my clients by facilitating their connection to personal practices of direct revelation while cultivating a greater knowing of their own medicine ways and innate wisdoms. When someone comes to me for healing sessions, I generally invite them to also attend regular gatherings or teachings as opportunities for experiential learning and offer them free online supports or discussion groups. High encouragement is given to establish personalized spiritual practices that fit into their lifestyle and are informed by an individual’s own cultural heritage. It is my belief these are key supports for self soul tending.
Basmati: What tools have you found least/most effective in your work?
Juliette: The natural world and compassionate listening are strong supportive tools for efficacy in my work. They both create connection, provide a wealth of information, and are soul healing balms.
Least effective - I would say easy access to “too much” information. This ease of such a massive volume of teachings available right now come with the pit fall of not allowing oneself to fully integrate before moving into deeper work. It also provides temptation to seek advanced methods without a proper foundation or with inappropriate timing. If a student’s teacher advices one to wait until they are more suitably ready, a current temptation for many is to find another teacher, or book, or article to tell them anyway. This can create anything from confusion to harmful practices.
This video is a beautiful example of how the medicine gifts we bring to our Healers, Teachers, Facilitators, and Practitioners supports their work continuing for the community.
The dollars we pay is the energy exchange to keep them and their families alive, housed, recognizing their years of training, skills, and continued education, while compensating for their time - much of which is unseen by their clients, students, or members.
Medicine gifts, such as the sacred Peruvian tobacco used in this clearing, may be the only way to ensure certain ceremony or healing work is done. In many lineages, the facilitator is never to purchase such medicines, it must be grown, harvested, or gifted. Such gifts also honours their lineage, their teachers - both spirit and human, and the medicine ways themselves.
Without this gift of tobacco, this particular clearing and the ceremony to the Airts (directions) before it would not have occurred. It is a blessing to the community to receive such, and a sweetness to me to be entrusted and supported in this work. Many of the flowers I use in my offerings, and the herbs used for our smoke cleansing ceremonies have also been gifted during gatherings or even sent in the mail! <3
Don't think this way is only for the spiritual helpers in your community, gift your chiropractors, doctors, massage therapists, professors, mechanics, even your baristas! What would support them in supporting others? What would honour their time and skill?
Working intimately with my lia mala (medicine bundle) is a significant part of my personal spiritual practice and energetic well-being. Over the years of offering the Shamanic Living Immersion, I began carrying a lia mala for the community as well. In this way, each member is able to receive energetic clearing and spiritual healing support via my tending to this bundle.
It is treated similarly to my own, albeit holding different contents. It is brought to sacred places, opened to the healing elements, offerings are made, medicines added, and receives the energy stream of traditional shamanic techniques. It comes with us to each circle and session the SLI members might benefit from. They are welcome work with this energy source long distance or held in their laps as needed.
Working in this way also supports Myself. Before I had received the dream telling me to create one for them, I had been navigating the effects of a large number of people very often "reaching out" to me in unseen, but very real, ways. Healing work and support was being asked of me throughout each day and each night, even into my dream time as members moved through their deep healing processes. Community outside of the immersion program also call on me in this way and I knew I needed to find more effective means to move this work a little more "outside" of myself. Upon creation, the remedy was felt immediately. If you are a Teacher or Practitioner, perhaps this share inspires you should requests for your energetic attention require a different way of holding.
During the summer months people often share with me they are having a tougher time connecting to Spirit. Embodying our spiritual practice and cultivating a relationship with nature while we are already "out 'n about" and loving up Summer is the remedy I suggest.
Meeting new land you love
A follow up to last year's video, "Saying goodbye to land you love", is a sharing of some of my personal journey and practices with "Meeting new land you love" If you find yourself moving house, discovering new space for your spiritual work, find a landscape that calls to you or moves your heart to start spending time there to begin a brand new relationship - these 16 minutes may support this fostering.
If you find yourself saying goodbye to land you love, here is some of my personal process HERE on the youtube channel that may support you.
I felt it as a student, I see it with colleagues, and I hold it as a teacher - there is a new aspect to the modern teacher/student dynamic that was unheard of in times of yesteryear.
The traditional way of a medicine person, shaman, bean feasa, etc etc was to study with one teacher for a number of years, become an apprentice, endure their and Spirit's sometimes harsh teachings, wait your turn, and integrate the medicines learned over time. Always showing utmost respect, learning as ready to, and mastering one's craft after much diligence.
Today those who seek to dive deeper into their spiritual practice have wave upon wave of seductive workshops, a plethora of fantastic books, online focus groups and videos abound. We live in an excellent time of sharing and availability. It's accessible. Great event coordination can happen. One can pick and choose who we like best, and who to give our precious time to. If we don't like what we hear, well, there is a book at the local occult shop we might like better.
The trouble is this, this sense of urgency. With so much in our western modern world being instant gratification and with great selection, we can easily lose respect for a Teacher and hurry our learning along - because frankly, most of us are starving for something deep, soulful, purposeful and personal. And then we want to share it and "become" useful.
This is how it seems to look...
In traditional settings, an apprentice would never think to go to the next village over and ask a different medicine person if they didn't like their teacher's answer. To do so would end the student/teacher relationship and potentially kibosh any future relationships with other teachers. There was a trust in right timing, that things weren't withheld as a power play but for safety.
As a teacher, there may be many reasons why a question is not directly answered, or skipping ahead would be discouraged.
Yep, I could have asked another teacher what they thought about it and searched for confirmations. I could have trusted the book instead. I could have trusted what my guides were showing me at the time - and likely would have had a rockier road to getting where I am today. This path is not known for its "smooth sailing" after all.
As a teacher, these situations call for delicacy as well as trust. Trust in our work, in the student, trust in right-timing and the ability of both participants. Trust that our ego isn't driving the boat in deciding what should or should not be for another. Trust in the student as a creative, resourceful and whole person. Trust in the balance between holding and guiding a being of free will, or being too controlling or nonchalant about it. And the delicacy to be able to sometimes say No without tearing away at that trust.
A most important cue for both sides - is a sense of urgency. When either participant is acting on feelings of urgency, that is a big cue to step back.
Whether a student or teacher, I wish you blessings on your slow cooked processes.
The Shamanic Living Immersion
The Shamanic Living Immersion is designed to meet you where you are at, from novice to seasoned shamanist, as a guide to take your personal practice as deep as you are willing to go.
- take a year walking the medicine wheel
- step into practices of your cultural heritage
- learn to journey & establish your shamanic cosmology
- develop ways of divination and reading omens
- deepen your relationship with the earth
- cultivate tools to transform challenges into medicines
- receive one-on-one healing sessions
- attend fire ceremonies
Registration opens June 1st each year with only 10 spaces available. We start each October.
In-Person in Squamish or Online Long Distance.
Details are at www.ShamanicLiving.ca
How to keep ourselves protected spiritually and energetically was one of the questions that came in to me and is a very important area to focus on. Here I share a few tips to help all of us with a good energetic hygiene practice to help keep us protected.
For practitioners, here are a couple additional suggestions:
- Spend a good amount of time to set sacred space before work
- Be sure to "arrive" mentally and energetically before each client
- Resist temptation to work when tired, sick, or emotionally charged
- Focus on closing sacred space, thanking guides, and stepping out of work just as much as stepping into it
- Ritual bathing/washing before and/or after sessions, gatherings, or ceremony
- Be clear with boundaries, what is yours/theirs, and be discerning with client/practitioner incompatibilities. Know who you should not work with
- Keep within your skill level. Reach out to or refer to mentors or colleagues if dealing with something out of your league
Bringing our gifts out into our communities in healthy ethical ways is part of the Medicine Ways program that follows the Shamanic Living Immersion. If you are keen to work together in this way, you are welcome to find more details on the www.ShamanicLiving.ca website
If you have a Power Animal and are looking for ways to work with them, here are a few suggestions. This is a topic that can be taken much deeper, but these are great methods to establish a working relationship and get you started.
You are most welcome to join us each October for the Introduction to Shamanism & Journeying that I offer, and of course the monthly Journey Circles and year long Shamanic Living Immersion program are experiential opportunities to really dive in.
A bean feasa of Gaelic heritage shares stories & insights from her animist and 'shamanic' practice on the West Coast of Canada.