In part 1 of this series, Damien Gendron of Consciousness in Motion sat down with Juliette to talk about what it's like to live on Skwxwú7mesh lands (Squamish, BC), how shamanism can be a healing balm to current events, and how the world around us responds to our personal spiritual work.
This is the first of a three part series about living a shamanic lifestyle in today's busy world.
In part 2 of this series, Damien asks Juliette to discuss the balance between the Divine Feminine & Sacred Masculine, the role of ceremony in modern times, and the beginning of how shamanism came into Juliette's life.
In part 3 of this series, Damien asks Juliette how shamanism came into her life and to speak about the Shamanic Living Immersion program and community gatherings she offers.
Very often I am asked what do I mean when I ask folks to bring an "eco-friendly offering" to the land or to Spirit when attending my journey circles or medicine gatherings. Making offerings of love & gratitude is an important part of my practice. I make them during every walk in nature, during times of duress, when I feel helpless against the atrocities of the world or when I am full up with appreciation for the blessings of life. Here is a wee time with me at the Squamish River, talking about and making offerings. I hope this can help answer questions and I invite you to join the many of us who are loving up the world.
Enjoy this beautiful day!
Last week a package arrived from a dear friend and medicine woman, Nikiah Seeds of Red Moon Pathways containing beautifully crafted bundles of raw cacao paste, cacao butter, raw beans, and rose quartz crystals. Since early last Spring, Cacao Ceremonies had been coming into my awareness and inspiring a sweetness that I knew meant one day, events would unfold where I would experience this ancient and highly regarded medicine way.
Cacao is a plant ally like many other plants where relationships with the plant spirit can be cultivated and connected with during ceremony, for energetic support, and within your shamanic practice. The energy of cacao has the ability to both be gentle with it's heart-opening experience (as it is an entheogen but not a psychedelic) while also bringing more ecstatic opportunities through its natural mood enhancing and energizing compounds.
On the night of my first ceremony, my partner and I placed a piece of cacao paste, a cacao bean and a small rose quarts crystal into a large clam shell, made an offering of rose petals to this new plant friend, and set it in a place of honour on the altar. We began mindfully preparing the elixir together, warming complementing spices and herbs, whisking in ghee and setting our intentions. For hours beforehand I had been experiencing a familiar, very uncomfortable, physical sensation that occurs when I have picked up an energetic intrusion. Therefore my main task at hand was to tend to this immediately with a shamanic extraction and I hoped this could happen during the ceremony.
When the elixir was ready, we ladled it into our mugs and took our spaces facing each other and listened to a medium's channeled message that my partner had received earlier. Each sip was a bit like a warm hug on a cold winter's day - which actually it was with the largest snowfall in years! A peaceful, calm, and sleepy cozy feeling soon came over me and all I could think of was curling up into a big feather duvet to soak in the good feeling and tend to the intrusion which still caused me a fair amount of discomfort on both physical and spiritual levels. Into a journey I went seeking my extraction guide to remove the projected energy that didn't belong to me and restore myself to a "full cup" state to prevent taking on anything further. The journey was simple - my power animal performed the removal which was different than usual, and while it was in its clutches I saw a vulture circling overhead then come to a river bank to pull apart a decomposing salmon. A scavenger feeding. The intrusion was then passed to my extraction guide to complete the removal process. There were flashes of 3 different likely sources, but truly, the source wasn't my concern - just the healing. After the extraction was fully complete I noticed all of my senses were heightened. The ambient music, energetic awareness, and tactile experience were all very sensitive, alert and far reaching. I was still extremely cozy and super sleepy but with a euphoric and inward feeling. I began slipping in and out of the journey and was guided to channel the energy of cacao, of love, and reiki into the area on my body where the intrusion had been. I could feel immediate relief as I did so, but with a tenderness to it, like after a migraine one's head still feels tender, as if it could return if not carefully tended to. For the rest of the evening I stayed curled in my cocoon, cultivating the heart-filling gift of self-care, the good feelings of the elixir, and the sleepy coziness of a winter's night.
The next morning I marveled at how completely recovered I felt from the extraction and healing. I had not expected to feel so sleepy and cozy, thinking instead I would become energized and invigorated - though I can still feel the inspiration to dance, journey to the heart, and to create art that did visit me through the cushion my very quiet and inward focus had developed. Later, I read an article by Ruby Warrington where she says, "in ceremonial doses, raw cacao is a powerful heart opener that paves the way to transformation through self-love" This sentiment definitely resonates with my experience and was exactly what I most needed.
I will continue to cultivate my relationship with cacao in all the ways that one gets to know a new spiritual ally. I have added a cacao bean to my mala (medicine bundle), I will journey to the spirit of cacao, I will ingest micro-doses, honour it on my altar, embark on more ceremonies, dream with it under my pillow, read about it and listen to people's experiences, learn how to ensure environmental and humanitarian harvest practices, dance with it, meditate with it, and discover more ways that cacao can facilitate healing, how I may be able to support this plant spirit and its work, and listen for if cacao will become a regular part of my shamanic practice.
Please feel invited to share your experiences with this ancient and prized medicine plant either in the comments below or privately to email@example.com I would love to hear them!
On the morning after our shamanic journey circles we have an opportunity to anchor our work in beautiful outdoor sanctuaries during Sacred Places, Solo Spaces gatherings. Today I created an offering of seeds while singing prayers of support and blessings of gratitude in honour of the medicine bundles we created last night. Here I share and speak a little of this sweet experience. If you would like to join us next month, come find event details on our facebook group Medicine Gatherings & Online Support
Night-time dreams are a powerful source of information, healing and wisdom utilizing metaphor, emotion and they tap into the subtle realms of Spirit and your deep subconscious. It can become a beautiful and personal way of working and is accessible to us all. For many, dreamwork is naturally a significant part of their spiritual practice, while others must dedicate to creating optimal conditions, intentions and sifting & sorting the dream medicine from the elements of our ordinary reality - the stuff of the movie we watched, our personal concerns, or mundane tasks that can colour our dreams.
Many of us don't remember our dreams, are plagued by nightmares or maybe reoccurring dreams, and are passive observers. We might periodically have big dreams, wild amazing dreams, lucid dreams even, but then there are those who are truly Dreamers, Medicine Dreamers, Shamanic Dreamers - those who witness or participate in spiritually guided healing work, receive important messages or premonitions and act on such in our waking life. When dreaming becomes medicine, you become a Dreamer of great potential for yourself, the earth, and our human tribe.
I'd like to share some of my journey with dreaming as a spiritual practice in hopes to encourage those who like me, thought only specially gifted people had anything more than ordinary, random, half remembered dreams. I'm also sharing for those who have been working with me in the dreamtime, and those who have dream medicine as part of their Shamanic Living Immersion solo work.
Years ago, before I began intentionally working in this way, I was greatly inspired by those with dreaming medicine yet firmly believed I didn't have the "talent" for such. My shamanic teacher at the time encouraged me with ways to establish a greater connection to this realm; how to track them, how to distill and interpret their medicinal messages and to become an active participant in healing work being done there. My dream time slowly became a very personal and powerful healing time. I began to make progress in reoccurring themes where I was powerless, stuck, or helpless. As I kept fostering this modality I began to have more of an active role, more influence over what choices I made or what I said, there was an awareness that I was dreaming and I could choose to stay in it or wake myself or continue the same dream if I woke. I was able to track changes in my dream themes as my ordinary day-to-day situations became more harmonious and vice versa, as I dove into healing work my dreams reflected my outer world and what I needed to focus on next. My personal shamanic practice started crossing over with soul retrievals & extraction healing, divination, energy balancing and transmutation happening while I slept. Ceremonies took place, deceased loved ones visited, omens and power animals began giving me insights, and as often happens when working with spiritual teachers, mine would visit me in the dream realm too - even after I finished apprenticing or studying with them, they brought more lessons or facilitated healing work. Sometimes I would wake up feeling like I had worked all night - like a spiritual graveyard shift - leaving me some mornings feeling like I had a "dream hangover". Slightly affected by deep work, a little stunned and a bit tired. At some point I began witnessing healing work for my friends and acquaintances. Not just "Hey you were randomly in my dream" type dreams, but "Hey you were in my dream and this profound thing happened" or "this message came through". Often I made a point to let them know in case there was something relevant for them, but sometimes I just let it be whatever it was.
Over these past years of offering community gatherings and a private practice, people in attendance would later share with me that I had visited them in dreams related to their healing work. Friends started telling me I had consoled them, held ceremony together, stood by them in a time of crisis, or held them during an illness. Now that I facilitate immersion programs working more closely for much longer with people, some members tell me I am there with them at night while I too am dreaming of supporting their personal healing work. Similar to journeying for clients, these experiences don't stick in my memory for very long - it's simply not for me to remember, the work has been done, and I have to consciously work at holding it fresh long enough if I am to share with them. While this can make for very active nights, I have worked hard to maintain healthy energetic and physical boundaries, even when people are actively setting the intention to visit in the dreamtime unbeknownst to me. I no longer wake feeling tired from working all night, but periodically I will set the intention to have a non-working night, and of course like all things my dreaming naturally ebbs and flows too.
These medicine dreams sometimes mirror my private practice - I have a drum or rattle, maybe wearing ceremonial clothing, sometimes we are in sacred tents or my spirit guides are there and traditional shamanic techniques are being drawn on. After our recent community Solstice fire I had multiple dreams per night of people fireside continuing their work with form given to what was being released and transmuted. Then came a series of dreams where I was passing gifts to people I'm close with. Each gift had a visible superimposed, energetic or spiritual essence overlaying the gift. These were all either soul retrievals or medicinal gifts from Spirit supporting their individual work. For one fellow I was giving him a carved wooden robin. The moment it touched his hands the world around him felt just like the last puzzle piece had been set in place. All was right. All was restored.
Other times we are in the land of metaphor, yet there is a clear understanding healing is afoot. I like these ones best. I am comfortable with mystery and love when I share seemingly trivial details that instantly make sense to the other. One such dream I had a few nights ago involved someone dear to me who runs a community group and coaching practice. In my dream he was simply setting up a fish tank. Rearranging the plants, selecting which rocks and statues to put in, pouring the gravel. Again each item had a glow of meaning to it. An essence beyond the physical items that had nothing to do with fish. I didn't know what each piece stood for, but as soon as all the pieces were in place that familiar feeling of rightness came over me and I looked up to see a roster filled full with his clients booked far into the future. The next day I shared this dream with him and when I said he was arranging a fishtank he told me it "totally makes sense" to him, that he has been cultivating a new environment for his practice and when an eco-system is in balance things flourish. We both saw this message that spiritual work is being done where his practice will expand to the next level and thrive - just like a healthy fishtank!
Dreaming as a medicinal modality fascinates me. If you are a Dreamer please feel welcome to share your latest and how it relates to your spiritual work. If you are a Shamanic Teacher engaged in dreaming with students, I'd love to connect with you! And if you would like to start an intentional dreaming practice but think maybe you can't, send along a message for some tips or dive in and pre-register for the next Shamanic Living Immersion program. Bless your night-time dreaming!
Shamanic living is more than a practice. More than something one "does". Definitely more than attending interesting workshops or a periodic ceremony. In this time and place, where our urbanized and generally spiritually neglected lifestyle creates a sense of disconnect, and "nature deficit" has become a condition - the draw to a deeper life is strong - yet sometimes we fall into thinking our spirituality is something "to do" instead of a way of living. Around the world entire cultures, ways of being and daily life tasks were intrinsically infused with our relationship to Spirit. There was no separation between collecting a hen's eggs and our prayers, no distinction between grinding corn and divination, dreams were important, living by the phases of moon and sun was normal, souls were tended to after trauma, blessings were sewn into clothes and always offerings to ancestors and nature deities were a first thought - not something to "remember to do" but naturally arising from day-to-day activities. Living life as a million little ceremonies and sensitivity to unseen aspects. Here is an article I wrote for elephant journal on 10 ways to turn ordinary moments into sacred ones. Early in one's practice yes, these may be things "to do", but for those of us who feel shamanism & spiritual living is more a remembering of forgotten wisdom or a path of clarity through the distractions of our day - we can come to a place of constant spiritual awareness and dialogue while we move through the mundane. But lets be clear - we aren't at the whim of guides, not half checked out in the land of non-ordinary reality, and certainly not being drawn off into journeys or possession by spirit all willy-nilly. When one is noticing omens, listening for insights, allowing spirit to give us nudges throughout our day, we must also be fiercely present, grounded and firmly in our human plane. This is where discipline and discernment play an integral piece.
It is also where a human teacher can be a wealth of support. Spirit has sooo much wisdom to share - but spirit also doesn't live as a modern day human. Some of our guides may have lived in times where cursing and warfare were normal parts of community living and advise us accordingly. Spirit also may give us intense lessons without certain sanity saving tips and supports. And to be honest - not all spiritual entities have our best interests at heart. Having an integral human teacher to notice your blindspots, alert you to potential hazards and bring you wisdom on healthy shamanic technique, energetic management while navigating current day-to-day living and importantly - to support healing during challenging times. Its one thing to grow through a spiritual crisis - its a whole other ball game to go through it alone. It is often said we are Spiritual beings living a Human experience. So while some struggle to bring a spiritual side into their lives, others struggle to keep humanity in balance. Does anyone come to mind when you think of someone living more in the ethers than seems to serve them well? Someone who appears to crash through life, burning up friendships or always choosing complicated circumstances saying "Spirit told me to" ? A friend? A 'healer' in town? You?
Shamanic living is both a spiritual practice and ordinary life walking side by side every step of the way. Its living fully, with a rich knowing of self. Diving into the deepest, hardest personal work to better revel in the beauty of the world. Its aligning our hearts with our actions - bringing internal healing out into the mundane world. Consulting spirit during hard decisions and using our intellect to implement a plan. Its going to a job every day and finding ways to be a harmonizing agent in the world - no matter what we are doing. Knowing what is our sh*t is and what has been projected onto us or what we are picking up on from another. Its feeling when things are out of balance between the mundane world and the spiritual realm, and having the wisdom to look within and to our guides before acting. Its buying less packaging not to be "environmental" but because we actually treasure our relationship with mother earth. Its thanking the land for its blessings and allowing safe passage before a road trip. Listening to the nudge to take the next bus but being wise enough to discern if it is a passing whim or actual guidance. It's a strong relationship with spirit while having both feet firmly on the ground. Doing our work, bringing balance and holding the light while we go about our ordinary lives. Walking the walk and knowing our practice is something to live - not do. This is shamanic living.
If these words tug on your heart strings, if you hear the call but can't see the first step, my suggestion is to find your tribe, connect with a mentor, keep company that raises you up and "speaks your language". You are more than welcome to visit www.ShamanicLiving.ca for inspiration and if you would like to join us, please do. The world needs wise hearts, compassionate intellects, and sensitive warriors as change makers. I truly believe by repairing our relationship to the natural world and tending to our own healing, we are having a huge overall impact. In my opinion, tending to our personal healing is just what needs doing when we feel helpless in the face of atrocities. Plus... it's science! We have all sorts of scientific demonstrations - everything from Russian experiments linking the electric impulses in DNA samples with the owner's emotional states over distance to Dr. Emoto's work with water. From Sandra Ingerman's Transfiguration healing work measured with GVD cameras (I was a lucky participant in some of this!) to the famous Rice Experiment (Here is my home study with photos) I am reminded of Spider wisdom - if you witness a spider building a web, first they put their support lines firmly in place. Then they begin in the center, tending to the small things. The work then grows out from there into something bigger and far reaching. It's balanced and beautiful. Sometimes it shines in the light, and other times hidden from view. We can do the same with our spiritual and ordinary lives.
Ahhh summertime soul-work season is upon us! So many exciting, deep, fun, and powerful opportunities for collective yet also personal healing work. Solstice celebrations, fire ceremonies, the Conscious Goddess Festival, workshops, vision quests, plant spirit experiences, spiral dances, labyrinth walks... yummmm! Such good stuff! and yet... afterwards...
What happens after?
After such moving and personal healing work, after our heart-felt connections and tribe building, we head home. Back to our mundane world of jobs, spouses, kids, emails, bills, television, grocery store lighting, facebook trolls, rigid scheduling or simply home alone to more solitary and solo lives...alone. Yet you just had this powerful, earth shattering internal experience! and these two worlds may feel like separate realities that really have a hard time even coming close to meeting. You might feel irritated, discombobulated, frustrated, having strange dreams, or simply dying to convey your amazing insights to others who can't fathom its depth. You might even just forget - like a lost dream upon waking.
This time of Integration is often considered the hardest part of any initiatory or deep healing work.
I can tell you from my experiences as a brainwave technician, as well as my personal development, and field of shamanic practice - this happens much more often than is desirable. It happens in the realms of medical, mental health, spirituality, alternative therapies, and training schools - this western workshop mentality has forgotten how to hold people all the way through to the other side of Integration. There is a lack of guidance and support for people working to bring their new gifts, healing and insights into their regular lives. (and actually the personal process often starts BEFORE the event!)
Here are some tips to support this sensitive and important time:
We talk a lot about building relationships with the land, connecting to nature, establishing a place where you listen to the trees whisper wisdom, invite the river to cleanse your heart, draw on the strength of stones...but what happens when you have to say goodbye? When you move and leave your shrines, fae, elementals, and place of solace behind? When a land is no longer accessible to you, here are a few steps of my leaving process.
Shamanists, animists and certain energy workers often speak of “medicine” in ways that are sometimes confusing to us. Usually when we think of medicine we think of a prescription a doctor gives us or an over the counter pharmaceutical to ingest. So what does it mean when we hear our alternative health practitioner speak of the medicine of a cherry blossom or of a garden snake? What healing alchemy could they possibly mean?
Many alternative health and spiritual practitioners work with energetic fields and spiritual consciousness, bringing harmony and balance to our lives with the aid of our natural world. Examples of disharmony in these realms would be the tension one can feel in a room after an argument has taken place or a sense the person we are talking to isn’t being “present”, or has a jittery nervous energy. In these cases, the medicine is not drawing on a chemical compound interacting with our physical body as with medical medicines, but instead it draws on the energetic and spiritual qualities for an ability to restore a healthy balance within our emotional, spiritual and then in turn, sometimes our physical health improves as well.
Let’s think of some of the qualities cherry blossoms bring us. Softness. Beauty. Sweetness. Gentleness. They are delicate and uplift our spirits after a long hard winter. These qualities make for a sweet remedy to any residual hard feelings after an argument. A shamanist when seeking to bring balance may have the spirit of cherry blossom come through to be applied in a variety of ways. We can bring a bouquet of cherry blossoms into our home, swish them in our water cup to create a flower essence, we can sit under a tree while the breeze snows petals around us on the wind or even visit the spirit of cherry blossoms in a meditation or shamanic journey.
Now what about a garden snake? What healing qualities might be found here for the ungrounded, anxious person? Let’s think about snakes for a minute. They are belly to the earth grounded, their skin shedding makes them experts at releasing what they have outgrown, they are acutely aware of their surroundings with a tendency to rest in complete stillness and without wasting energy on useless movement. These aspects all would help balance out an ungrounded person. If a garden snake came to the shamanic practitioner in their journey and brought these medicines, they could be integrated over time by practicing these qualities, perhaps by walking barefoot or lying on the earth, finding ways to release and let go of situations that bring anxiety, and taking time to be still in the sun.
Other times we may hear spiritual healers speak about “being in the medicine” and again this has a different meaning. In this case it is usually a reference to undergoing a process of deconstruction followed by growth that is being supported by a conscious personal spiritual practice. A sort of “what doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger” type experience. Outwardly it may look like a personal crisis such as the end of a relationship, loss of a job, death of a loved one, maybe mental or physical illness. Inwardly, there is an element of mindfully moving through it, drawing on all the spiritual and energetic supports one has available. Prayer, meditation, energy healing, plant medicines, journeys, vision quests, yoga, dance, making offerings, dream work, journaling, intention setting, following our cultural spirituality, all the aspects of our personal practice - this is being in the medicine. When balance has been restored and health regained, we often find we have reached a better place than previously imagined, stronger, and having learned valuable life lessons. A new and healthier relationship has been found, or a more satisfying job, even renewed physical health and strength.
A lovely exercise to try is to identify an area where you feel out of balance, or that you could use some support with. It might be a weary heart, a difficult relationship with a co-worker or racing thoughts at bedtime. Find your symptom situation, and set an intention to notice a natural remedy of energetic or spiritual medicine as you go for a nature walk, sit in a garden or meditate. See what catches your eye, stands out or appears in a dream or meditation. It may be an animal, plant, stone, clouds, wind, warm sunshine, rain drops, bird song - be open to the many forms it may come to you. Then relax and sit with the idea of the remedy until the medicinal qualities become apparent. You could journal stream of conscious style or research information, or simply tap into your inner knowing. Then allow a method of connecting to this medicine come to you. If you need some support in this area, here are 7 ways to cultivate a relationship with spiritual medicine, in this article or you may choose to book a shamanic session with me. To learn more about my practice and how we can facilitate well-being together, visit www.3foldbalance.com for sessions & journey circle information and www.shamanicliving.ca for our year long immersion program.
A medicine wheel is a concept in many shamanic and nature influenced cultures and spiritual lineages, used as a map to orient oneself. It allows you to experience the energies (or medicine) present in each direction. It shows you where you are, what phase you just came from, and what awaits you. The aspects of each direction varies by culture and within that, vary by lineage and within that, sometimes varying by individual - but the general concept appears universal. A repeating cycle to get one's bearings and to move through. This has been one of the most powerful teachings I have received - it greatly influences my life and my practice.
The idea is to use your Medicine Wheel to help you mindfully move with the natural energies present at any given time as opposed to struggling against unknown forces. To be able to work with the natural rhythms of the world in a medicinal way. A supportive and healing way. Knowing when it is time to let things rest, or when it is time to rally the troops. When it's time to sow seeds, and when to harvest your efforts. If the natural world around you is slowing down, you may find it more frustrating to be ramping up and pushing ideas forward. But if you wait until the phase with latent energy dedicated to new growth and action, you may find your projects flows effortlessly. You can apply a Medicine Wheel to any aspect of your life, be it your age, your creative process, your spiritual practice, a challenge, or your emotional stages. Generally one moves clockwise around a wheel, this way when "feeling lost" or disoriented, you can find what stage you are at, know what has been completed and see what is coming next. Looking at the Seasonal Medicine Wheel above can be very helpful to begin with as we are so familiar with the repeating seasons of the year. Trees give us a perfect example to follow. In winter they have no leaves, their branches are quiet, sap slows, they lay dormant with their life force energy deep down into the earth. With springtime, tree energy begins to quicken. New shoots, fresh blossoms, birds return with joyous song. There is growth. Summer sees branches full of leaves turned toward the sun, full of life, energy, bearing sweet fruit. Children climb and play in and around. Animals visit and nibble. It's busy and there is a vibrant energy. Come Autumn this energy begins to retreat. Energy dedicated to leaves are no longer the priority. They grow dry with lack of vitality and are released from the places they've known, and become mulchy goodness for something else. Sap begins to slow with the cold. And the energy has returned from the outermost edges and vibrancy, back deep down into the center. Now.... think of all that but with a baby conceived, birthed, growing from maturity into eldership, and finally released back into the mystery where we came from. Now try it with the creative process of a project or idea. See the flow?
Some cycles are faster moving, like the Moon. Instead of a 365 day wheel its only 28. There are many many who align their actions and orient their internal realm to work in synchronicity with the moon. This moon pulls the mighty ocean tides, affects women's menstruation (ehem...moontime) biodynamic farmers pay close attention to this energy, and you may notice that neighbourhoods, people in public places, children and even your sleeping patterns are affected as well. The Medicine Wheel of the Day gives us even faster cycles of rest and activity.
Which wheel is for you?
Each direction of each wheel holds a plethora of aspects related to that phase that all have a natural flow to them. It is that direction's "medicine" and it's available to you! Looking at the samples here of the Seasons, the Lunar, and the Menstrual, you might find similarities among them all. You can get a sense of being able to amalgamate all three into one.
You might find you can identify where cultural deities that you work with would sit. Kali? An Cailleach? Kwan Yin? How about Totem Animals? Solstices and Equinoxes? Elements?
Meditate, journey, consult and find or create a wheel that you can identify with, something meaningful.
As I mentioned above, many cultures and lineages have different Medicine Wheels steeped in tradition and history. I encourage you to look into your heritage, find an elder, research and see if there is a natural resonance there within you. If you notice the tops (or the North) of my examples, you will find a certain similar energy represented there among them all, but your research may show those energies sit in a different direction. You may also find some people start in the East while others start in the North or South. This is the beauty of diversity. This is where you find your Medicine Wheel.
A bean feasa of Celtic lineage shares stories & insights from her animist and 'shamanic' practice on the West Coast of Canada.