Originally Published on Free People’s blog site.
When it comes to wellness and travel, questions often outnumber the answers. To help in the cause we’ve launched Dear Escapes: an advice column assigned to our FP Escapes guides in an opportunity to garner his/her wisdom and direction. Here to offer up her expertise is our spiritual guide, Maggie Harrsen
, who will be co-leading an FP Escapes retreat to Spain
along with YOGASCAPES this September.
I’ve always felt drawn to shamanic studies. What is the best way to get started and how do I know it’s the right path for me?
I believe shamanism is a way of life — a path of living in harmony with Pachamama, the Cosmos and all living beings. Many of us are awakening to a truth that everything which exists around us is alive and has a spirit — the plants, flowers, stones, rivers and trees. All of life is interconnected. When we look at life in this way it becomes apparent that our existence is supported by these energies. When we live in Ayni, right relationship with the forces of nature, it is like flying on the wings of the great condor eagle.
Traditionally, in most indigenous cultures, a shaman was not a role that was chosen by an individual as it was viewed as a rather difficult path. In the Q’ero lineage I follow, there are stories of men and women in the high mountain villages of Peru who were called to the path by the supernatural, an initiation of an individual who was struck by lightning. Others may have been born into a lineage of Shamans or brought to the path by their personal vulnerabilities which compelled them to heal and share this medicine with their community.
When individuals approach me and inquire how can they can begin walking a shamanic path, my answer is always the same. Connect with nature. Connect with the moon, the sun, the sea, the wind. Honor these energies as living beings. Build an altar, a sacred space to pray and deepen your relationship with Spirit and your ancestors. The truth is that each one of us is a descendant of an indigenous culture of beings who lived close to the Earth. Practice gratitude and leave daily offerings of love at your altar such as spring water, fresh flowers and incense.
As far as modern day teachings, I love Sandra Ingerman
who explores the practice of shamanic journeying. Early on her studies inspired me to begin using a drum and re-awaken my ability to commune directly with the natural world and the Cosmos. My personal experience is that the most beautiful way to absorb ancient wisdom in not through traditional studies but by apprenticing and traveling with visionaries and healers who inspire you. Visit indigenous communities — be with these people, see how they live, connect with them and connect with the land on which they live. If you feel a deep calling to visit a certain place in the world, honor this energy and journey there. When we learn through having direct experiences, this is profound. It’s not necessary to memorize information in books or follow the path of another, but be yourself and live from your true essence. In the beginning of my journey, I carried a lot of heaviness so a process of un-learning was necessary for me to free myself of who I thought I was and of what others wanted me to be. I invite you right now, in this moment, to welcome and embrace all parts of your being. To be like a child again, with a curiosity and gentle love in your heart — play, be wild and free. Quiet your thoughts and just imagine what it may be like to trust that your soul will guide you.
Photo: Choate House