I am a healer and teacher in the tradition of core shamanism, as well as a sacred sound practitioner and firewalk instructor. Shamanic practice is the common strand that holds all of these together, and the container that holds all of my life and work. I have recently begun to make the connections with my work as a community activist and environmental anthropologist through the Shamanic Political Ecology training programme and Earth Punk Chronicles writing project, all within the holding concept of Sacred Political Ecology.
Opening the Doors
My interest in shamanism was first sparked when I discovered the books of Carlos Castenada at the age of around sixteen. The philosophy they describe, of a fluid relationship with a reality wider and more complex than the seen material world, resonated strongly with both my lived experience and the deeper understanding of the mysteries of nature opened up by my interest in science. In subsequent years, I unsystematically adopted many of Castenada’s ideas and practises in my own life, as well as exploring more of what anthropology tells us about the diversity of human lived experience.
My interest in shamanism deepened considerably when in 1999 I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, for which conventional medicine offered no useful assistance. Providentially, I received a soul retrieval (one of the central healing procedures in core shamanism) from a practitioner in my social circles, which proved to be the turning point in my relationship with my condition. I followed up by deepening my own shamanic practice: teaching myself to undertake shamanic journeys from books by Michael Harner and others, and receiving healing and insights from the spirits of the Preseli Mountains in West Wales, where I was staying at the time.
My shamanic practice remained mostly personal and informal until the summer 2013, when I attended a week-long Medicine for the Earth training with noted shamanic writer and teacher Sandra Ingerman at Lendrick Lodge in Scotland. Over the following years I returned on a regular basis to complete the entire shamanic practitioner training programme led by Stephen Mulhearn, along with Peggy Dylan’s Sundoor programme:
- Shaman’s Path (September 2013)
- Soul Retrieval (June 2014)
- Shamanic Extraction and Healing with Light (October 2014)
- Spirit Dance Breathwork, Rebirthing and Past Life Regression (Feb-March 2015)
- Sundoor Initiation (July-Aug 2015)
- Compassionate Depossession and Advanced Compassionate Depossession (October 2015)
- Shamanic Graduation (October 2015)
- Sundoor Firewalk Instructor Certification (August 2016)
- Death and Dying (October-November 2016)
From 2016 I operated a public shamanic practice in my then-home town of Hebden Bridge, offering individual healings, guidance and instruction on shamanic practice, and regular group shamanic journeying sessions. I also set up and temporarily ran shamanic journeying circles in the nearby cities of Lancaster and Leeds.
In late 2015 I began training in Sacred Sound with Gongmaster Kath Reade. In early 2016 I joined her Deepsong Sacred Sound Collective, initially as Kath’s first gong apprentice, then as an associate Gong Servant (as I prefer to identify myself), contributing to weekly Gong Sound Journeys in Hebden Bridge and elsewhere from then until my departure from the area in late 2020. Along with Kath and my ‘gong sister’ Alison McCabe, I actively experimented with weaving sacred sound with shamanic practice, including through regular shamanic sound journeys combining gongs, Himalayan bowls, drum, rattle, voice and other instruments, an area I continue to develop within my ongoing personal and public practice
Between 2018 and 2020 I completed a three-year course in Shamanic Teacher Training at Cadair Idris for Shamanic Studies in Snowdonia, North Wales. Through this training I developed the programme in Shamanic Political Ecology in order to make shamanic tools, perspectives and methods more accessible to environmental and social activists, for empowerment, more effective action and self-care.