The Winding Road to Shamanism
From Native American Ceremonies to Hawaiian Rituals, there is a magic to this ancient Medicine…
By Shekinah Leigh
It was around 2002 if I remember correctly, when I sat in my first Sweatlodge and felt like I was home. From there it has been a long road filled with a lot of Ceremonies, Rituals, challenges and blessings to get to where I am today!
Where did it begin?
I apprenticed to a Native American Tradition after that first Sweatlodge which gave me an incredible opportunity to explore in depth so many facets of Earth Based Shamanism. It was my first real immersion into the ‘Beauty Way’ and it was followed a few years later with a strong attraction to Hawaiian Shamanism as well.
Throughout the years I had the privilege of being a Drum Chief at many healing ceremonies, went through initiations like ‘Night on the Mountain of Fear’ and ‘Overnight Hole in the Ground’ which were both incredibly challenging and rewarding experiences on all levels. I participated in the body shaking armour-breaking intensity of Shamanic Dearmouring and explored the confronting and powerful Sacred Sexuality teachings of this tradition. I played in ‘Kachina’ dances and sat in ‘Flowering Tree’ Ceremonies. I have run my own Sweatlodge’s, I do regular Pipe Ceremonies and I have incorporated so much of what I learned into daily practices.
Even with this Medicine being such a strong part of who I am and what I do, over the years this Shamanic side of me has little by little been hidden and suppressed. Not just because most people, especially back then, found it way too woo-woo but some misguided attempts by others to control how I embodied and expressed my Shamanism left me fearful of reprisals and repercussions that I just didn’t feel equipped to handle. I felt like I had found my Medicine, my magic and yet I couldn’t fully own it and share it without causing trouble for myself and so it went underground.
“Even with this medicine being such a strong part of who I am and what I do, over the years this Shamanic side of me has little by little been hidden and suppressed.”
This all started over 15 years ago, at a time when I was much younger and in ‘Warrior’ mode, it took me many years to step off this particular traditions path and a part of this shift was a deep need to reclaim my feminine side after operating in my masculine for so long. The more gentle and feminine approach of Hawaiian Shamanism and the ‘Way of the Adventurer’, instead of the ‘Way of the Warrior’ became evermore appealing and yet the Shaman’s way was always there.
In 2006 I discovered Kahuna Bodywork and I was in love! This feminine and loving approach to health and wellbeing was just what I needed to balance a lifetime of being so hard-core and my love affair with Hawaiian Shamanism was born!
The Aloha energy that supported transformation through flow, gentleness and an Adventurer’s awareness allowed another side of me to flourish and the power of these ancient traditions solidified very quickly into my life and continue to be expressed through over 13 years practicing as a Kahuna Bodywork specialist. In that same year, actually on my level 3 kahuna Bodywork training, I found out I was pregnant. This was unexpected news and the changes that came from this one choice altered my life forever.
“The most obvious change for me was going from an external activist perspective to an internal crusader way of living.”
I had been participating in women’s rally’s, volunteering at Women’s Legal Service and seeking policy change for women’s equality through government initiatives to help change the world. Once I was pregnant and became a Mother, I began to focus more on the microcosm of child, parent, family and influencing my own little part of the world. I went from seeing change as an outside-in event and realised that for me at least, it is an inside-out phenomenon.
Fast forward a few more years and while Shamanism flows through so much of what I do with my Kahuna Bodywork Sessions and the Programs that I offer to Mothers in “The Motherhood Rite of Passage”, the SHAKTI Girls ‘Coming of Age’ work and our monthly SHE Temple gatherings, I was still careful to keep the extent of my devotion to these mystical and magical ways on the down low. I could honestly say that I was walking my talk and speaking my truth, I was living with authenticity and following my heart however when it came down to it, those past experiences had created a fear in me. While I was owning it all a ‘little bit’ the dial itself was probably only turned up to about 20 out of 100…
What does this look like now and what does a Coyote have to do with it?
In the last few years I have been diagnosed with and beaten breast cancer. I have continued the challenging and rewarding role of being a solo parent and I have continued to grow and expand my business, providing not just Bodywork Treatments, but becoming a Marriage Celebrant, Birthworker and Mentor to Pre-teen girls. I have changed and let go of so many aspects of myself and my life that no longer serve me, especially those toxic habits and relationships that created dis-ease and disharmony with my body, mind and soul. I realised that I had inadvertently become a Warrior again and now I am ready to be the Adventurer once more…
I was told way back when I began Shamanic teachings that I had Coyote sitting in the East (spirit energy) of my personal Medicine Wheel. Coyote is the ultimate Trickster and throughout my life he has cunningly led me towards things that consciously I probably would have said NO to. I have a lot to thank this totem animal for because this year, once again, he craftily led me along a windy path to more Shamanic work.
I saw a Shamanic Training come up on the Gold Coast, I looked at the program but none of it actually registered, my Soul knew it was a YES but my mind didn’t know it yet. This prompted me to talk to a friend, lamenting how I missed Shamanic practices and how doing them as a solo practice just wasn’t the same as being part of a group that had the same language and teachings and who could gather together to play and create. I was saying how much I would love just a weekend to be fully immersed in this Medicine again and that’s when it happened – she said ‘Let’s do it!” I said, “I can’t really afford an unnecessary workshop that would only be for fun (yep you read that right) but her enthusiasm won out and the magic began to unfold.
Coming Full Circle
This first level training fell the weekend before my birthday and the timing was perfect. As I drove to this very first day I realised that 9 years ago, to the day, I had been in the same venue, the exact same room, doing Shamanic Dearmouring with my previous teachers. I had unknowingly come full circle and been provided with an opportunity to cut any final toxic ties to what had come before, so that I could embrace my Medicine wholeheartedly.
Being immersed in these new Shamanic Teachings showed me the heart that I had been missing. They showed me those pieces of the puzzle that I had hidden from myself and they re-ignited my love for this Medicine. Not only was I discovering new practices, I was being taught by a woman who encouraged and celebrated her students going out and providing this work to others. She knows that this Soul work is so needed on this planet at this time and she wants these teachings to get out there. She is committed to supporting deep transformation from within for all of us and that has always been my heart’s desire as well…
What about Cultural Appropriation?
This has been an interesting topic for me for some time and it is part of where my suppression of this Shamanic Medicine has come from. I can only share with you my beliefs, they are personal to me and everyone is entitled to their own view. I have spent decades exploring many different religions in a search for something that represents my inner wisdom and personal spiritual beliefs. For me it looks like this; it doesn’t matter what colour you are, or where you were born, or what gender you are born in, if something is Medicine for you, you should be able to use it, express it and embrace it!
I believe we have all had many lifetimes on this planet and I know that I have not been a ‘white woman’ in every one of them, perhaps never before. I have been through many cultures and genders and I believe, as a knowing within myself, that what feels like my Spiritual Magic in this lifetime, is not a new thing. I have worked with this magic over many lifetimes. I will always do my best to respect and honour the people and cultures that are currently living the reality of these ancient traditions, however I personally do not believe that any one person, or group of people, can own Ritual, Ceremony or Spirituality.
I think it is up to each of us to be mindful and conscious that what we are doing and what we are attracted to, really is a deep calling and not just the latest fad. We must pay respect to the Ancestors who have come before us, to the Teachers who have shared their knowledge and have compassion for the experiences that certain People’s have had. We must also realise that we are becoming one world, one people and while diversity and protecting culture may be very important, so is inclusion and the sharing of powerful teachings, especially in this day and age where we need all of the Magic, Medicine and Soul work we can get to keep shifting the humans on this planet into more loving ways of being.
“…we need all of the magic, medicine and soul work we can get to keep shifting the humans on this planets into more loving ways of being.”
Making decisions based on Love not Fear
I have been on my own personal journey of re-discovery reclaiming those parts of myself that I had hidden, forgotten or been too afraid to acknowledge. I have gained new skills, practices and tools to take my own work to the next level but most importantly, I have found that missing piece of my heart and Soul that I thought I wasn’t allowed to be and I am turning the dial up! I may not be at 100 yet but I finally feel like I can enjoy the Journey and give myself full permission to be all that I am!
I have dived back into the depths of who I am and have decided there is no more shame or fear in expressing that in authentic ways when it feels natural to. I am excited to be refining these practices and exploring the ways they can enhance the services that I already provide so that I can bring even more lasting change and transformation into peoples lives. I don’t remember signing my contract for this Earth Walk but what I do know is how to follow the YES no matter how challenging or strange it looks or feels. I am moving from Mother to Crone as I traverse my 40’s and it is time to claim the wisdom and power that is my birthright.
There are some powerful offerings about to become available and I can fully trust that those who need this work can follow their own intuition, whether it’s via the Coyote or not, and give themselves permission to transform from the inside out!
Thank you for being a part of the magic that weaves through my world…