FOR many people, the call to the shamanic path leads them to exotic, far flung climes. Eager to learn all they can, they start swotting up on all things Native American, long to drum with the Sami or start saving up for a trip into the amazon to discover the delights of ayahuasca.
That’s what shamanism is, isn’t it? That slightly elusive path that beckons from afar – the drums, the smoke, the rattles, the pipe, the Injun spirit guides…
There’s nothing like that in England, is there? We don’t have vision quests, sweat lodges, sacred pipes, medicine plants…. and we certainly don’t have those really cool medicine names, do we?
…and that’s when I really, really wish I could wave a magical shamanic wand and have everyone open their eyes!
Don’t misunderstand me, I was exactly the same when I first felt called to shamanism (for ‘felt called’ read ‘was dragged, kicking and screaming’). It’s not that we don’t want to work with the spirits of our own lands, it’s just that we don’t realise they’re there. Traces of shamanism are so much more accessible in other lands, or so it seems.
When I finally found the right teachers, early on, I discovered they all worked with North American teachings, so my first forays into shamanism proper were on the good red road.
It was only years later, when I’d spent some time working with the spirits of my own lands, that I realised the power of the GREEN road (a phrase coined by the wonderful Andrew Steed at the 2013 UK shamanic conference and very quickly adopted!).
Power in our lands
Our beautiful lands hold more power than we can even begin to imagine. We DO have vision quests (you might want to call them pilgrimages); we might not have sweat lodges, but we DO have dreaming chambers; we DO, in fact have sacred pipes (read up on the bluestone pipe if you’re not already familiar); we DO have medicine plants (any plant can be a medicine plant, but if you’re talking specifically of the hallucinogenic variety, we have shrooms… although I don’t personally use them), and we most certainly DO have medicine names.
And y’know what else we have in these, tame, boring old lands of ours, where nothing exciting and shamanic ever happens? We have DRAGONS! And we have the fae – the amazingly magickal faerie kingdom and queendom. We have dryads and gnomes and imps and pixies and water sprites and all kinds of other wondrous beings we’ve chosen to forget.
Not your thing? More into power animals? Well, they might not roam free any more but, once upon a time, we had bears and wolves, and their spirit is still strong in these green lands. We have badgers – the closest living relative to bear on these shores, who have so desperately needed our help, and we have foxes and beavers and owls and eagles and buzzards and ravens and crows and hares and all kinds of amazing dream companions if we’d only open our eyes and see past the ends of our noses!
Wake up and smell the daisies, people! If you feel drawn to other cultures around the globe, fine, go explore, but don’t do it through laziness. Our own shamanic culture might take a bit more work to discover, but there’s a fabulous, fantastical world waiting to work with us, if only we’d make the effort.
Walk in truth and beauty,
> do you work with the spirits of the British isles? Have you felt torn between the red road and the green road? I’d love to hear your experiences… please do leave a comment or two. 🙂