‘Space is a way of expressing difference and separation, but the shaman’s journey expresses the possibility of coming together again.’ Piers Vitebsky, The Shaman.
When I make a journey to find a helper for another person I travel, most often to the Lower World, the place of creative power and fertile nurturing, find the spirit, most often in the form of an animal, bring it to the person and blow it into their upper chest and head through my hollow fist. This is the straightforward part. The more complex and paradoxical part is comprehending that whilst the spirit help is now within the person who has received it, it is also outside them and indeed everywhere. This is something that can be explained to a client in words, but which I believe can only be truly comprehended through shamanic experience.
Perhaps the spirit I have just blown into the person is a leopard. It is at once an individual leopard, ‘Leopard’ – in the sense of being the embodiment of all leopards everywhere – and an aspect of universal energy that offers help to the person I am working with in the form of an leopard – as opposed to a lion, a rat or a fish – because the nature of Leopard has a teaching for the person at this time in their life.
I currently have a young woman client who has limited English and finds working and being in England very difficult. She feels trapped by circumstance and unable to take an objective view of her situation in order to change it. When I journeyed to the Lower World – the place of power, something the client clearly lacked – to find her a spirit helper, the ‘power animal’, that appeared was an eagle. When we reviewed my journey the young woman was quickly able to grasp that the attributes of an eagle were things she needed to learn for herself: the ability to rise above a situation and view it objectively, to float before committing to an action. In the journey the eagle fed the young woman gobbets of raw bloody meat in the same way an adult eagle would feed a chick. This could have a number of implications one of which being that she should eat red meat – she later told me that she had been diagnosed with anaemia in the past. Most significantly for her present situation, the eagle indicated that she must learn to be the hunter not the hunted, the eagle not the rabbit, and this she understood immediately and clearly. The young woman is now learning to journey for herself. She will meet her eagle face-to-face and be able to ask for help to make the changes that will allow her to develop her Eagle nature. She is excited about this. I have no idea how she herself perceives the eagle that is now inside and outside her, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that she feels she is no longer alone and has access to help and the means to help herself.
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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