Techniques for honouring the energies of the four directions of the Universe, the Earth, the Heavens and Great Spirit yield a profound positive shift in the sanctity of the spaces in which we live, love and work. We also incorporate our ability to mechanically ‘open’ our Light/Electro-Magnetic Field (LEM) or Auric Field to enhance the creation of Sacred Space.
Throughout the training, we grow evermore our innate, indigenous, animist nature, spending considerable time finding comfort, reflection and mystical connection in our natural surroundings. We foster a Spiritual connection to the trees, the mountains, the seas, rivers, lakes and animals that inhabit these places. As our heart centres open naturally in these environments, we give permission and guidance to ourselves to know deeper and deeper the compassionate relationship between ourselves as humans and the Earth. In every sense this quest brings a homecoming and the experience of “being held by Great Mother”.
''Brí Na Taise'' is the Irish-Gaelic for “Energy of Compassion”, the underlying principal in Healing Shamanism. The practitioner is brought to an understanding that many forms of intent “move” energy and when the intent is love/compassion, the end result in the Self and in the outerworld is profoundly life-enhancing. Balance from reciprocity is another founding principal of Life understood by the shaman. Living by this code is to constantly be in gratitude, particularly to Mother Earth in the knowledge that to send out gratitude fosters the abundance from which we receive. It is said that the Healing Shaman “chooses Life” at every given moment and living from ''Brí Na Taise'' and balance from reciprocity allow for this with simplicity, integrity and meaning.
The bedrock of this Shamanic practitioner training are the “Deasghnátha”, the ancient “Rites Of Initiation”. These are energetic transmissions that awaken seeds of consciousness within us and have been passed from healer to healer for thousands of years. The holding and passing on of these Rites is deeply sacred and to receive them is to be embraced by the celebration of humanity, Spirit and the vision of potential, intrinsic to the Irish-Celtic and Incan lineages, both passed on in the Slí An Chroí Medicine Spiral.
Sli An Chroí honours the Irish-Celtic tradition of the “crane bag”, the medicine bag carried by the Shaman. Referred to as the “mála naofa” (“sacred bundle”), practitioners on the Medicine Spiral throughout the four directions of training assemble this truly awesome, personal altar of orientation and power. Based on “lia naofa” (“sacred stones”) and other significant items, the Mála Naofa develops as a way to dialogue with and map, the journey of your own Heart/Soul/Spirit. It also becomes a map of the outerworld we live in. The Mála Naofa is an extraordinary instrument for problem-solving and identifying and enacting positive change in ourselves personally and the world we live in. The Cauldron is the great vessel of transformation in the Irish and Celtic traditions. We learn to work with the Cauldron side by side with the Mála Naofa, particularly working with the elements of Earth, Air, Water and Fire The Cauldron provides us with the means to bring release and growth into our lives in a unique way. Both Mála Naofa and Cauldron together bring the practitioner to the place of compassionately and wisely, changing energies, i.e. alchemy.
The ancient Irish Gaelic word “Immrama” literally means “wonder voyage” and refers to techniques of going beyond the ordinary and venturing into mystical states of awareness. Often depicted in Celtic art as a sea voyage to “The Otherworld”, to go on an Immrama is to safely and naturally discover and enter new consciousness. In these realms we have the opportunity to harvest previously unknown power and wisdom and integrate these in our daily lives. The principal method of Immrama in the Medicine Spiral is through the transporting, rhythmic sounds of the drum and the rattle.
Manifestations of power gifted to us by Spirit, we first encounter Power Animals in the mystical state of an Immrama. We learn “to walk in the world” in relationship with our Power Animals knowing them as a strong, protective resources, particularly in times of challenge.
Our Spirit Guides, often described as “beings of Light" who bring wisdom and teaching, connect to us from the angelic realms. Once again, we come into relationship with these sacred energies, being in their presence and their dialogue to be guided and assisted to live daily from our “higher Self”.
When we are ''Tracking'', we are sourcing information from heightened perceptual states. In daily life, we spontaneously use a limited percentage of the perceptual states given to us. In shamanic training, we become aware of previously unknown channels of perception and we become adept at using them to discover what is truly going on beneath the surface in a given environment. Parallel with Tracking, our ability to See develops at the same time. Once again, this does not refer to Seeing in the ordinary sense, but in the non-ordinary sense. To “See” the way the Shaman does is to be able to witness and read energy, what sometimes is called “seeing the Spiritual in the material”. This ability is innate in all of us and safe to develop.
When our lives are attuned to the natural seasonal cycle of Mother Earth, our personal journey through a year becomes more balanced and co-ordinated to the living systems of energy in Nature. Our personal Energy Field (LEM) is entwined with the Energy Field of the Earth, (sometimes referred to the Universal Energy Field, UEF) and when both are in alignment, personal growth and change is mirrored by the cycles of light and darkness, new growth and decay, shifts in climate and weather throughout the natural year. Hence, the significant times of Solstices, Equinoxes and days heralding new seasons are acknowledged and celebrated.
Understanding energy is an important part of Slí an Chroí shamanic training. Beneath the Physical and Psycho-Emotional dimensions of our being, is the the Energetic-Spiritual. When we heal, i.e. positively shift energies, on the Energetic-Spiritual realm, we are healing from the deepest level of our being and the rewards filtrate upwards to the Psycho-Emotional and Physical layers. Understanding the human light/electro-magnetic energy field (LEM) provides us with an awareness so that we can discover and monitor what is operant within us on this deepest level. There is awareness fostered on the portals to the LEM, referred to as the chakra system and known in the Celtic tradition as “the seven door/doorways”.
When deeply attuned to our highest self and listening attentively to our Spiritual allies, we “plant the seeds of our becoming”, i.e. we consciously choose what new life we wish to grow within ourselves. We identify the practices needed to cultivate our Seeds and the positive emotional rewards of those practices ensure our motivation is unwavering.
The Medicine Spiral training fosters improvement in our lives by knowing ourselves as Body-Mind-Spirit organisms and bringing greater health practices on all three dimensions. The training brings clarity to how we are at once functioning on these three levels in every moment of life. We explore practices that nurture ourselves holistically, from physical exercise, sleeping habits, stress release, relaxation, optimum nutrition, positive thinking, emotional freedom and Spiritual practice. The Medicine Spiral training allows us to understand and breakthrough any life-diminishing patterns we may have, by enabling us to understand how the roots of these behaviours are embedded in the Energetic-Spiritual level, while the symptoms may be more known on the Physical and/or Psycho-Emotional levels. Above all, the training gives us the means to “weed” these roots and to address and breakthrough patterns of stress, depression/sadness, negative thoughts-emotions, fear, anxiety, addictions, limiting beliefs, conditioning and disempowerment.
We cannot have the life we have today if it were not for the lives lived by those who have gone before us. Shamanic awareness asks that we honour the lives and deaths of our ancestors with compassion and beyond judgement, so that we acknowledge “the shoulders we stand on today”. Opening ourselves to a reverence of our Ancestors is achievable irrespective of the quality of our relationships to our mothers, fathers and greater family. It is also possible if we are adopted or fostered. In all cases, honouring our Ancestors brings healing and belonging not simply to us today, but also to the Spirits of those who lived so that we may live.
The Irish-Celtic tradition like all Shamanic traditions worldwide holds the exploration of Death and Dying as vital to our breaking through into a life lived beyond fear. Conquering our fear of Death and coming to a true understanding of this phenomenon brings us the ability to navigate changes, from subtle to major throughout our lives. It is understood that we do not truly understand Life until we understand Death and that fear of Death is an expression of fear of Life and of living fully to our greatest potential.
The Medicine Spiral invites our courage to self-heal and provides techniques and rituals that give us the means to do so. The term “shedding skin” refers to our ability, like the snake, to let go what no longer serves us, such as the painful baggage of past traumas or current ailments. An ancient Shamanic understanding holds that it is through our wounds that Spirit enters us, i.e. when we bravely face the pain of our wounds and take the healing journey to breakthrough that pain, Spiritual energy is the reward for us on the other side.
The Healing Shaman learns on the eternal spiral journey of life that his/her prowess as a healer (of Self and others) is founded upon their consistent commitment to tend to their own wounds are they arise. Hence, we never arrive at a “fully healed” state and consider we no longer need to self-heal. We are “works-in-progress” constantly finding a greater and greater wholeness and we live from the positive rewards of this state. However, we make a commitment to “walk the way of the Warrior of the Heart”. A “Warrior” because of the honesty and courage it takes to self-heal and one who is “of the Heart”, because of the love and compassion we cultivate as we heal. The Warrior of the Heart is a person who have moved beyond the states of “victim” or “survivor” and is one who has no enemies in this life nor the next.
The primary offering of The Medicine Spiral is the retieval of greater and greater wholeness. The Irish-Gaelic word for healing is "leigheas", a word also used to express "retrieval". In our first language, to heal is to retreive and often The Medicine Spiral is poetically referred to as the spiral of remembering and belonging. An outsanding opportunity for deep personal healing while participating in The Medicine Spiral is offered by current students of The Healers Spiral who are training in the Energy Medicine and Shamanic Counselling practices of Imbas, Extractions, Soul Retrieval, Death Rites and Psychopomp Healing, (click here to learn more about these core healing shamanic techniques). The Healers Spiral students often work with students on The Medicine Spiral for their case study practice requirements. Students on The Healers Spiral are thoroughly supervised by John and Karen in a live setting so that their facilitation of these techniques is safe, adept and professional. A participant on the Medicine Spiral is invited to volunteer to receive healing from these Energy Medicine and Shamanic Counselling techniques from a student on the concurrent Healers Spiral at no cost.
Many people live by a sense that their lives are organised by larger, outside forces. This we refer to as “fate”, in which we feel we are living a life chosen for us. Shamanic training brings the practitioner to the place of potential, in which he/she is offered to leap from “fate” into “Destiny”, i.e. a life chosen by us. It requires deep soulwork to step from one contract with life to a superior one. The reward is to live a daily life, in which no matter what occurs, we know it to be part of a greater scheme for living. One that is beckoning us forward to live from our fullest potential, more and more.
Shamanism has long been understood as a technique or “a way into” Ecstasy. The healing journey brings us closer to our true nature and the exhilaration of living from that place of personal truth certainly brings happiness, but it is also leads to the path of Ecstasy. To know the Ecstatic is a yearning in all human beings. It is a state in which we have full experience of the joy of life, yet for many it is a fearful place in which to venture because of repressive conditioning. Shamanic training nurtures us free from such conditioning and brings us to a place of safe expression from our innate wild nature. Whether through the music of trance dance or in the quietness of a nature place, to know the Ecstatic as a “default” human experience is a cherished principal in all shamanic traditions around the world.
In each of the four directions of training, there lies the powerful presence of Archetypes. Sometimes called a God/Goddess of the Universe, they are essentially a naturally occurring “organising influence” in the world. Awakening our awareness to these energies allows us to understand and work with the forces of North, East, South and West. They prompt reflection and ask us to heal ourselves in different ways, while at the same time offering themselves to us as sources of strength and inspiration. Archetypes can take the form of animal or human form, such as An Breadán Feasa (“Salmon of Wisdom”) and the Goddess Brigid. Sometimes they may be a mysterious blend of both, Cernunnos, (God/Goddess of Plants and Animals). The rich inheritance of Irish Mythology holds an extraordinary tapestry of stories helping us to understand our personal mystical experiences on the Shamanic path and often offering an eloquent introduction to an Archetype. Myth is understood to be the language of the soul and these stories, most of which cannot be dated, offer us trackways and supervision as we take our personal, Spiritual journeys.
Sometimes referred to as “Soul Drama” or “Spirit Drama”, this is a sacred use of simple dramatic technique that allows us to dialogue with energies, internal and Archetypal, by externalising them through personification. This is not similar to any form of therapeutic drama used in the fields of psychology or psychotherapy. Sacred Energetic Drama is not built on reaching a point of catharsis but on reaching places of recognition, relationship and transformation of energies that inform our personal lives and the world in which we live.
A consistent ritual throughout the Medicine Spiral training is the Fire Ceremony. This is a powerful, healing ritual working with the element of transformation and purification. The Fire Ceremony brings us to a place of renewal where we let go “old” aspects of ourselves we need to shed, in order to grow in “new” aspects. In this way, we can consciously “dream ourselves into being”. After the Ceremony, the Fire prompts the tuatha to sit together to spontaneously share experiences, stories and humour.
As part of finding balance in our lives, the Slí an Chroí Medicine Spiral brings us into awareness that a combination of Masculine and Feminine energies are at work in all living organisms. Whether our gender is male or female, we are all made from this mixture of the two essential energies of the Universe. Appreciation of the divinity in these energies leads us to reflect on the balance or imbalance of Masculine and Feminine energies within us individually. When we cultivate a balance of the Sacred Masculine and Sacred Feminine within, we bring our manhood and womanhood to more powerful and authentic expression.
Working with pure intent and several traditional rituals for cleansing, we prepare for training in a sacred space with a cleanse. These are designed to help us release Energetically-Spiritually from our LEM, “trom” energies, (“heavy” energies) that accumulate from everyday living. Protection rituals begin from the first Rites of Initiation transmitted in the first direction, the North. Throughout the training we add to this formative system for Protection, other techniques that assist us to live freely in a world of mixed energies without us becoming depleted or dragged into a response of fear.
Throughout the Shamanic training there is continuous coaching and guidance for Self Practice. Indeed the training does not “end” on the last day of each of the four weekends, it is a part of the Medicine Spiral to step into Self Practice in the intervening weeks. Whether one continues training with Slí An Chroí by taking the Healers Spiral, or not, you will have a robust Self practice established to allow you to be continually nourished by the Shamanic path.