Of cowries and kestrels: beginning a year-long shamanic adventure

The One Year Shamanic Circle begins on April 8, 2011.

SOMETIMES, no matter how much our heads try to steer us in a certain direction, the energies of the universe seem to have entirely different plans for us. We can spend weeks, months, even years pushing towards our goal, only to end up turning around and doing something entirely different and, sometimes, when we accept the transition and go with the flow, our souls begin to sing.

You see, in this western world, it’s so easy to tune out our hearts and operate from the tactical, strategic, careful, sensible brain-mind instead.

Nothing wrong with that, you might say – where would we be if our accountants, lawyers and estate agents flicked off the analytical switch and began to operate purely based on emotion?

Well, as the old saying goes, it’s important to have balance in all things. So, when the brain-mind starts to completely overrule the heart-mind, it’s not unusual for spirit to start giving us a few gentle prods. And if we ignore the prods? Well, prepare your posterior, for the full-blown spirit kick is sure to follow!

Where am I going with this blog? Well, some of you have asked what prompted me to run the One Year Shamanic Circle, starting in April, and one of those spirit kicks lies at the heart of the scenario.

When I first set foot on the shamanic path, more than a decade ago, I had no intention of teaching. My dream was to learn to heal and help people, as well as finding out what all those strange visions and visitations I’d had since childhood actually meant. I remember one of my first shamanic teachers stating that I’d be running teaching circles one day, and I also remember shaking my head and telling her it wasn’t for me.

Great Spirit moves in mysterious ways…

When I was in full-time employment, before I’d dared to step out on my own, I was quite happy to offer healings in my spare time, to coach and counsel when needed, to help people as much as I could. Over time, of course, word spread and I found myself being asked to teach people how to meet their spirit guides, how to contact their power animal, how to access past life information, how to release stress from their lives… the list goes on. Looking back, helping people with these requests were my first tentative steps onto the teaching path, and they felt so, so supported.

As time progressed, I found myself doing more and more of this ‘leadership’ work and, eventually, ended up passing lots of teachings onto a shamanic circle I’d been part of for many years; this brought its own messages and teachings of its own, and soon became second nature. During this time, my guides were nudging me ever closer to the teaching path, yet still I resisted… the world had enough shamanic teachers, and many of them had been on the path for much longer than I… some of them had even been published!

Over the years, I had many compliments from people who said they loved my teaching style. Teaching? I wasn’t teaching, I was merely passing on information and guiding them through the steps. That’s not teaching, is it? I had more and more requests from people asking me to teach them and people asking when I was going to start a training group of my own. How ridiculous, I thought, I can’t possibly teach other people when I’m still learning myself!

So, I continued to ignore the little nudges from spirit and carried on with my life. I ignored the dreams sent to me, I politely referred people to teachers I’d worked with when they asked about training (so what if they were hundreds of miles away? It’s all part of the journey…), and decided that one day, when I’d learned all I could learn, I might consider offering some training of my own.

To cut a long story short, a number of things happened to lead me to reconsider my stance. Life led me to meet a number of ideal teaching partners and I began to tentatively run a few shamanic workshops. First came the shamanic glass workshops with the wonderfully talented stained glass artist, Gillian Wing. Gillian and I met through a business networking group and, when we got talking, it soon became clear that we had similar interests in meditation, energy-based healing and shamanism. When we began to explore the possibilities, we realised how beautifully stained glass crafts and shamanism fit together. The healing powers of energy-based work, coupled with heart-based creativity and the wonderfully vibrant energies of colour… the more we talked about it, the more we just had to go ahead and Shamanic Glass was born.

At first, Gillian and I only ran day workshops but, as word spread and demand for more in-depth teachings grew, we expanded our offering to weekend workshops, which are still going strong today.

By now, my spirit teachers were beginning to smile a little more and I was beginning to accept that part of my healing work would be through teaching.

So, how did I move from weekend workshops to a year-long training programme? Well, a couple of things happened to provide that kick I needed…

One of my dearest friends, with whom I’d been working shamanically since my very early days of stumbling along the path, was diagnosed with cancer. Jane was one of the most talented precognitive dreamers I’ve ever known; she had the purest, most beautiful of spirits and delivered some of my soul’s greatest lessons without even trying. She fought so hard but, when it became clear that she was destined to move onto the next life, she was nothing short of amazing. Jane knew what I needed to do with my life – she knew how much I hated the treadmill I was on, and she knew how much I lived and breathed shamanism. If ever anyone encouraged me to follow my dreams, to live with courage and conviction and to walk my talk, it was Jane. I saw Jane only a matter of weeks before she died and, despite our teasing about her newly-sprouted shock of curly hair, she looked incredibly well and beautifully free. Her final words to me? “It’s not goodbye, it’s farewell – fare thee well.”

Jane’s death was a massive jolt and promoted me to re-evaluate. Life really is too short to spend in an ill-fitting job, or stunting your spiritual potential in favour of the financial safety net. Yes, of course bills still need to be paid and food still needs to be put onto the table but, alongside my dream to have more time for shamanic work, my partner and I had long dreamed of running our own business. Couldn’t they work perfectly together? What if we kick-started our own business plans, became our own bosses AND I took more time for shamanic healing and teaching?

Less than six months after Jane’s passing, I left my job, set up in business with my partner AND started to run more shamanic glass workshops, offer more healing work and give more shamanic talks and presentations.

…Which brings me neatly to the One Year Shamanic Circle.

People who’d been on Shamanic Glass workshops kept asking me for longer, more in-depth teachings, as did people I met through healings, talks and presentations. I was sent more dreams, more messages from spirit but, by now, my ‘excuse’ was not having the right venue for an ongoing training circle. So, the universe upped the ante again and a series of ‘coincidences’ led me to meet a firewalking instructor, not 15 miles from my home, with a purpose-built retreat centre looking to be used. Just outside Peterborough, this retreat is beautifully constructed from Scandinavian pine, sits in acres of wonderful land AND has a place for a firepit. Perfect!

The final decision came during the 2010 Society of Shamanic Practitioners’ UK Conference. I was presenting at the event (teaching, again, then…) and went along to a workshop on divination, led by the brilliant Jules Farrer. I chose to work with cowrie shells, which deliver very strong yes or no answers. My line of questioning went something like this:

Should I continue shamanic teaching? YES

Should I do even more shamanic teaching? YES

Should I run some one-off workshops at the new retreat? NO

Should I start an ongoing training group at the retreat? YES

Six months? NO

A One Year Shamanic Circle? YES

And so, the One Year Shamanic Circle was born. We’ll be covering the basics of core shamanism, working with the energies of the land, learning how to journey to meet our power animals and spirit guides, learning about the elements of the medicine wheel, working with song and dance and indulging in shamanic craft work, amongst other things.

Jane’s power animal was a kestrel, incidentally. On the way home from that conference, I sent up a message: Jane, if it’s right to run this One Year Shamanic Circle, send me a sign. Between the conference and home, I counted no less than 12 kestrels.

Until next time, walk in beauty.

With all love,



  • If you’d like to find out more about the One Year Shamanic Circle, please visit the events section of the website, or email info@firechild-healing.co.uk
  • The next Shamanic Glass workshop is Singing the Rainbow, and will be held in March. For details, check the events section of the website or contact gillian@strawberryglass.co.uk

About Taz Thornton (www.firechild-shamanism.co.uk)

Speaker | writer | firewalker | empowerment coach | shamanic artist | mentor | encourager. Debut tome underway for Moon Books. Follow me on Twitter - @TazThornton and find FirechildShamanism and TazThorntonOfficial on Facebook.
This entry was posted in Arts and Crafts, Healing, Meditation, Shamanism, Spirituality, Workshops and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Of cowries and kestrels: beginning a year-long shamanic adventure

  1. Pingback: House Plans - House project 9944

  2. Ethan Marten says:

    Jane still inspires through you, Yellow Wolf Moon.

    You may be interested in this motion picture project; “White Buffalo: An American Prophecy”. Continued success in teaching.


    • Firechild says:

      She does, indeed, and will continue to do so. Thank you,

      Definitely interested in the movie project – please do drop me an emal with more details.

      Walk in beauty,

      Taz xx


  3. DK Leather says:

    so pleased to be joining you, and you’re right, it’s high time for you xx


  4. Firechild says:

    Thanks DK – much appreciated.

    Walk in beauty,



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s