As a writer and former lecturer in both Writing and Creative Thinking I have always been interested in the relationship between mind and spirit. Practicing shamanism has helped focus my interest, partly because the shamanic journey is a ‘narrative’, a story if you like.
Shamanic ‘journeying’ can by learned by almost anyone, because, although our world has changed since the first shamans walked the earth, tens of thousands of years ago, the structure of our brains has not, which means we can re-learn what our remote ancestors knew about spirit, energy and power. Both traditional shamans and those practicing in the West work with the same energy and power that created the Big Bang and brought matter and consciousness into being. By learning to experience aspects of this phenomenon through the shamanic ‘journey’ we can learn to better understand and develop our own creativity, our own narrative capabilities, whether we express that narrative through words, images or movement.
Many of us imagine that creativity is something other people have, professional people like photographers, dancers, or maybe successful entrepreneurs. True creativity however is something that we all possess; it is an integral part of being human and alive. From a shamanic perspective, creativity is a part of everything, it isn’t just something humans do, it is what we are, whether we are artists, craft makers, writers, parents, or simply women and men wishing to make everyday life fuller and richer. This was particularly brought home to me in the journey I made to my spirit helpers, prior to teaching a workshop on Shamanism and Creativity earlier this year, in which I asked to be shown everything I needed to know at this time about creativity. Here is the final part of what was a long and personally inspirational Upper World journey. It is written as it was spoken aloud:
… My teacher points to the little box that is always on the floor between us and he lifts the lid and takes out a long roll of what looks like clay or plasticine. He start shaping it into things. He makes a horse and he breathes on to the horse and it becomes alive, tiny, perfect miniature horse which even has a bridle. He takes the clay and he makes a moon and a sun as he hangs them in the air and they starts to shine and the Moon starts revolving around the Sun. He picks up the clay and makes a bowl. He breathes on it and it becomes a tiny cup with liquid in it and he hands this to me and tells me to drink. I drink and it’s very sweet and thick. I lie down and relax and fall asleep. And I see some part of me getting up, my dreaming self has got up. I ask my teacher “Why do I need to be asleep for this?” And he says “Come”, and the top of his tent opens, which I have never seen before, and we go up through it and looking down I can see the planet we were on below and it is not the Earth, and as we move further and further I see all the planets of the solar system and it’s not our solar system. I see galaxies and the Milky Way. Now I’m outside of all the cosmos and there is an edge, there’s an edge where there are things and there is an edge where there are no things. And I ask “Why are you showing me this end and beginning?” And he says, “This is what you needed to see. This is where things end and where no-thing begins, but it is also something, even though it seems nothing.” I say, “Can you explain specifically how this relates to creativity?” And we set off, into the nothing and it is very, very cold and there is a sense of pressure, and I wonder how, if there is nothing, there can be cold or pressure? But no, there IS real pressure here and the pressure builds and becomes more and more dense and I feel my body changing and changing shape and I realise I am forming a planet and that my body is changing into a sphere and that as I become a planet the extent of the something has now been pushed forward into the nothing. The drums are changing and I say thank you to my teacher, thank you for showing me these things. And I come back here.
Through learning shamanic techniques we automatically become more creative. The shamanic journey helps us focus on what we want and need in our lives; it helps us structure our thoughts and create ‘stories’ that connect us to our deepest hopes and fears with a fresh and compassionate eye. On a physiological level it helps us overcome the conditioning of our education and become less left-brain focussed. The spirit helpers we meet on our journeys can show us what it truly means to be one with everything; what it means to be, not just a tiny, insignificant part of creation, but creation itself.
Dr. Zoë Brân
Dr. Zoë Brân has worked with creativity for fifteen years and is the author of eight books, which include travel literature, guides to sexuality, and fiction. Zoë was a Writer in Residence at London’s University of the Arts from 2004-2008 and lectured in both Creative Thinking and Travel Writing at City University in London. As a travel writer and journalist Zoë travelled extensively, focussing on troubled areas of the world such as Burma, Bosnia and most recently, Cuba. She has been a speaker, teacher and presenter at conferences, academic institutions, charitable organisations, companies and businesses and has worked with media on topics as diverse as AIDS – the subject of her doctorate – sexual behaviour, Vietnam and shamanism. She has appeared on BBC TV and national and local radio, including ‘Panorama’ and ‘Woman’s Hour’. Currently director of Shaman UK, Zoë has been involved with Core Shamanism since 1998 and is one of the UK’s leading practitioner/educators. She offers one-to-one shamanic counselling and healing and leads shamanic seminars and workshops on a range of subjects, including: Sex and Gender, Death, Soul Retrieval. Her weblog is among Europe’s foremost resources for contemporary shamanic practice and has a worldwide readership. Zoë lives in London with her lurcher, Arlu.
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