by Rachel Mann, PhD
In December of 2007, my feisty calico cat, Bea appeared to me the evening after her death and told me, “It’s time for you to STEP UP and do what you know you are meant to do. If you don’t do it now, you will get sicker and die younger. If you wait, it will be even harder.” Yes, you heard that. My DEAD CAT was speaking to me.
Welcome to the shamanic worldview in which we recognize that there are multiple dimensions and realities beyond the physical space-time continuum. These domains are populated by our ancestors, deceased loved ones, Animal Allies, Great Beings of Light such as Apus (Sacred Mountain Spirits) Mother Earth, Father Sky, Mother Moon, Star Nations, and more. Within, through and around it all is the fabric of love that is experienced as both space and time in a holographic matrix. Everything is in a sacred dance the expansive intelligence and embracing consciousness of the Cosmic Mother and Father.
As you go on your journey of life, Spirit will speak to you through whatever avenue, form or feeling that will reach you. If it is your deceased 4-footeds or if it’s angels, so be it.
Bea’s words revealed what I already knew but was resisting. Since meeting my Cherokee teacher at the age of 33, my personal healing journey from symptoms of PTSD, depression, and anxiety, combined with my spiritual studies, had led me unexpectedly to the path of Native American spirituality. I then spent the next 15 years seeking out the “new” shamans in the West to try to reconcile why I, a White, Euro-American woman, was being called by the Spirits to be leader in the emerging spiritual and therapeutic movement in the West known as shamanism.
I brought all my academic training as a social scientist, folklorist, and anthropologist to bear on this question. I have met and studied with a few western shamans, including Alberto Villoldo (thefourwinds.com), and the indigenous medicine people of Peru. I finally came to rest in this truth: human beings are rich in a legacy of earth-inspired, heart-grounding, soul-awakening, spirit-shaking spirituality. Each culture stamps these seeds of awakening and light with their own signature. In the United States and Canada, shamanism has evolved from contact between the descendants of Europeans, the people they enslaved, and Native Americans of South, Central and North America.
Am I a shaman? I prefer to say I am a healer and teacher. You can call me what you want. The word itself is controversial, so I remain humble and speak of what I do without making it about what I am. Since that fateful day in 2007, I have helped 2000+ clients and students heal their wounds, find their purpose, and harness their highest destiny. I have also taught a powerful pathway called Awakened Heart Shamanism to spiritual seekers.
In 2013, Atlantic University brought me on as a member of the faculty to reconfigure their old course on shamanism for the Consciousness track in Transpersonal Psychology program. We finally launched “Introduction to Shamanic Studies” in 2020. It was a powerful experience for the students. Some had already studied shamanism and some were newcomers. But the truth is that there are so many misperceptions of shamanism and so many versions of it in the western world that students reported how eye-opening it was for them.
AU students are a special group of people. They are seeking spiritual expansion and awakening and a deeper understanding of themselves, others, and the cosmos. In my work, I often talk about how many of us in these chaotic and radical times carry within us “medicine.” In the shamanic world, this is understood to be a kind of force or frequency connected intimately to the vital life-force of Mother Earth that can be harnessed in service of the transformation of oneself, others, and the planet. Often, as we ourselves go on a healing journey, we become more keenly aware of it through the transformation of our own suffering. As we heal and learn the ceremonies and shamanic pathways to connect with it consciously, we begin to harness its power and become the creative visionaries and healers of the world in whatever form is unique to our personal medicine.
I am proud to say that I have met many AU students who carry this passionate and vibrant medicine. Or dare I say all of them?! I am also so very happy to be teaching the pathways of shamanism so that I am instrumental in mentoring all these amazing beloveds to step into their medicine and be in service for the healing and enlightenment of our planet. Thank you, Bea!
If you take my course, TP6130 Introduction to Shamanic Studies, you will learn the rich history and background of Native and indigenous spirituality and healing traditions, as well as of western shamanism. You will be taken on a powerful journey of personal transformation as you learn some potent shamanic ceremonies, such as praying to the 6 directions, connecting to the Mountain Spirits and the Planet People for guidance and illumination, and journeying to harness your highest destiny. As with all AU courses and programs, you will emerge with greater wisdom, insight, purpose, and passion. Come tap into the unique medicine you carry within you that is sourced by Mother Earth and All Our Relations!
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