Forest of Dene bluebells

You know there’s so much more to being a shaman than dressing up, rituals and what’s ordinarily thought of as journeying. I do notice it all the year through but this season, between Beltane and Midsummer really brings it home for me. The sunrises so early, sets so late, the sky is still light when I go to bed around 10pm, then there’s the morning twilight when the birds first wake me just before 4am. It feels very magical, very dear, very intimate. I just can’t stay in bed of a morning but have to be up and working with the new day.

The garden takes up so much of my time at this season. Everything is burgeoning, coming along fast – including the weeds! It all wants attention and I love to give it. Working directly with plants and animals increases the intensity of my connection with the Land, the Earth and all that lives and breathes and moves thereon. I love that connection, it feeds me, nourishes me, fills me with joy.

To be in a city would be terrible for me now, the connection to the Earth would (for me) be so baffled, muddled, hidden in the noise of people, I couldn’t stand that. It’s enough to have to go into our wee little city of Hereford to do shopping! I always try to that on Monday or Tuesday mornings very early when there are far less people about!

I used to live in a city when I was much younger, in London, one of the biggest and fastest cities in the world. I loved that too, had a quite different life, working more normally with lots of other people. The job was exciting and fun, I loved having breakfast meetings in cafes, discussing projects in wine bars until midnight … but not any more.

All that was part of the shaman’s life too, although the work was as a manager for a huge computer project for a big government department. How could that be shamanic work? Hmm … that means you have to take off the rose-coloured spectacles that many folk have about anything “spiritual”, that it can’t be anything to do with “nasty material stuff”. But, of course, it can and is.

We’re here on the Earth to work with her, to help ourselves evolve and her to grow too. Everything we do is part of spirit, the trick for most people is realising that.

I love the way I’m able to work now but I don’t knock the way others work because it’s different to my way, or because they work in a city. I don’t like cities any more but once I did. The point of the work is our attitude. Why are we doing the work? Is it grudging, forced labour to pay the mortgage and feed the kids? If so, we’re unlikely to be doing it all that well and we’re grinding ourselves into miserable dust in the process.

And … how is whatever we make or work with being affected by how we feel about our work? Do we even think about that? The shaman does. The shaman knows that her own attitude to the work she does is as much a part of that work as the components or other stuff she deals with. Her attitude informs whatever she touches. If she hates her job, dislikes the stuff she works with it will all get infected with that dislike.

Load of tosh? You think that doesn’t happen and is all new age wishy-washy garbage. Hmm! Fraid not, it’s real, it happens. Most people notice it most in food. Food that’s made with unhappiness, misery, anger, tastes different to them and affects their guts and digestion. Food that’s made with joy and pleasure has a quite opposite effect. And that’s true of all work. Cars made with joy are better than cars made in boredom and misery. Unconvinced? Well, that’s you. I can’t change your opinion but just mentioning it here will have gone into your subconscious and, on day, will emerge again and give you to think.

For the shaman there’s no question. It doesn’t matter whether others agree or share her opinion … because it’s not an opinion, it’s an inner knowing that does not require the approval of a peer group for its validity. Non-shamans will say this is arrogance, again that doesn’t change a thing. It does assume the shaman is going to be influenced by peer group pressure which she is not. It can be lonely, being a shaman, you won’t get peer group approval and the things you do, know that give you joy, can well seem very strange to non-shamans. But the joy is intense, intimate and wonderfully nourishing. To know your connection to everything, feel it every pore of your body, know it in your bones, means peer group pressure has no attraction for you whatsoever.

This knowing and joy usually makes you a much more rounded person, often easier to get on with … as long as nobody expects you to follow mores and shibboleths you cannot agree with. As a shaman friend once said to someone who was giving him grief (in my hearing), ‘Excuse me, but I think you’re confusing me with someone who gives a shit.’ I had to run away before I was rolled on the floor laughing …

Elen Sentier

behind every gifted woman there’s usually a rather talented cat …

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