1 Jun 1995
As a shamanic practitioner and a teacher of shamanism, I am often asked how one becomes a shaman and how, indeed, I became one. I was chosen.
My awakening occurred during an extraordinary week in my life when everywhere I turned, the subject of shamanism was present: It was the summer of 1993 and I had some healing work gifted to me by a college mate. She used crystals and Reiki, and as she worked on me she began to see things with her psychic awareness which were vivid and profound, but made no sense to her. She saw me floating in a cathedral-like place with a flame over my head.
My body understood on a very deep level, but my conscious awareness was in the dark. I had a reading with another friend and was told the door was open and it was time.
My feigned amusement covered a growing anticipation. I felt something brewing within me, but could not identify it. As I moved through the next few days, the brewing was always present as if it were calling out to me. I went to a bookstore and was introduced to a respected psychic who said she saw my guide, a Native American in full dress, as if in preparation for something.
I felt a shift in my body as if a great vortex had opened and I was flooded with a sweet knowing which I again could not identify. I trusted that it would come clear and was determined to listen.
The next day, I purchased my college books for the upcoming semester and one of the books required for an anthropology class was about shamanism. When I picked the book up, a sense of knowing intensified and again, I quietly continued to listen.
It came into my awareness, coincidentally, that there was a woman's gathering on the next evening and I felt an urgency to attend. I knew no one at this gathering, but knew I was supposed to be there. The topic of the meeting was shamanism. I said to my guides, "Okay, I get it! I'm listening!"
As I listened to the teaching that my soul would be journeying to the sound of the drum, that warm knowing flowed through my blood once again. I knew about the drum even though I had never, to my knowledge, used one. As the drumming began, I knew how to journey and I knew exactly where I was going, though I'd never been there before.
Soon I found myself in an underground cave. As I explored, I passed by many wonders, all of which were familiar to me, but I cannot say how. I came to a pool of water with a brilliant flame burning in the center. The flame filled me with knowledge, with healing, and with hope. I felt like I was home.
As I sat on a rock, I saw many reptiles slithering in and out of the water. These were my fears, my challenges and my strengths. As foreboding as they seemed, I stayed in the midst of them as if it were a contest which I was determined to win. After a time, a crocodile came up to me. It seemed friendly enough, and I extended my hand in friendship. As I patted its smooth skin, it seemed to purr in a sign of friendship. And then, as I reached to pet its snout, the crocodile bit off my arm! To my amazement, I was not frightened. I asked, "Why do you need my arm?," to which the crock replied with a chuckle, "You don't seem to be using it."
The beast slithered away, leaving my arm laying in the darkness of the cave. As I considered the meaning, the flame in the pool turned brighter and I knew, I just knew what this was about. I had reached the place of reawakening, the center of my soul.
As I peered into the flame, I remembered a near-death experience at the age of five, and a voice that told me that I was different, that I was being set aside. I remembered my years of hiding from my spirituality behind the mask of religion. I remembered the abuse I suffered as a child, the mentally ill mother who could not protect me, the perverted father who tried to destroy me, the loneliness I walked in, keeping horrid secrets, pretending, pretending.
And I remembered the flame. It was always there. The flame protected me through it all, and for a purpose. I had been chosen at a very early age, and now that I had stopped running, my learning had begun.
I was led by spirit to meet Jim Stone, a man with whom I would learn and become partnered (another enchanting story). Over the next year I still struggled with this new-old knowledge. After all, it was very weird. But in my shamanic journeys I felt like I was home for the first time. The familiarity with which shamanism came to me was as natural as sunrise.
I never questioned why it came so naturally to me. I knew with every breath that this was the path of my destiny. And so I followed and became what some might call a shaman. But I consider myself a servant, surrendering to the will of spirit when I am asked.
I have been asked by spirit to teach and help heal soul loss, and I am honored to serve. I have participated in many wondrous healings and I claim responsibility for none. It was spirit who used me to heal a woman's deafness - I had no idea she needed to be healed of that. It was spirit who led me to find the soul part of a man who had lost his lust for life at the age of 19 when he jumped into a water tower despairing of his life. It was spirit who provided a gorilla to protect a woman from the terror of her abuser. It was spirit who washed the guilt away from a man of the cloth so that he could know God. It was spirit who sent a soul who was trapped in this dimension into the light. I was there, but I was simply a conduit through which spirit worked. I see more truth with each work I am privileged to be part of, and my life has inextricably changed.
So, what is spirit? Spirit is God, and God is spirit. From a shamanic perspective, a case can be made that Jesus was a shaman. He spent 40 days in the desert communing with angels and animals. Was this not a vision quest? God cannot be defined or contained within buildings, books, or traditions for the use of the member only. While it is true that some cultures utilize shamanism as a source of religion, that does not mean that only members can use this knowledge.
We are all spirit and spirit is within us all. We are all brothers and sisters, no matter what soil our ancestors walked upon. Spirit transcends both geography and blood lines. I tell you, my friends, spirit is like the wind - it lives everywhere and belongs to everyone.
We all have a piece of the truth. Not one of us can claim to know the fullness of God/Spirit. Spirit speaks in many languages so that we may hear in our own way, in our own time. Although the Cherokee blood that runs deep through my soul guides me, I am also a white woman. More importantly, I am a willing servant whom spirit can use, regardless of where my ancestors walked.
Shamanism is another path to spirit. It is not an exclusive path and it is not the only path. I understand and teach shamanism as a spiritual discipline that holds no alliance with any particular culture. This is truth for me.
Shamanism is a spiritual discipline which satisfies our longing to know God. We are all spirit and when we surrender to that gnosis, that mystical knowing, we understand that we are but a small part of the great universe. The communication between the human and spiritual worlds is as open now as it has ever been. We can understand the purity of what we have been searching for in the name of God since the beginning of time. Those that are destined to be on the shamanic path will be drawn there by a force greater than any understanding by spirit.
As a teacher of shamanic wisdom, I believe that I have an obligation to share the wonder and the healing that spirit has taught me in the form of shamanism. I would love to travel to Peru some day and study with the shamans there, but I don't have to. Spirit is already here with me, around me. If we lived in a perfect world, we would all be healed.
Much has been said about the cost of spirituality and those who would use the teachings of spirit to make a living. Please remember that the worker must be honored with an energy exchange. In tribal cultures, the exchange may be food, or cattle, or what the shaman's family needs to live. But we are no longer tribal. We live in a consumer structure and the use of money is our customary exchange of energy.
When you pay someone for their knowledge, you honor them and you honor spirit. It is meant to be a sacrifice, an offering. It is difficult to put a price on spirituality, on healing the soul. Follow your heart; let spirit be your guide.
Trish Casimira had her shamanic reawakening in 1993 and has been following the path of her many shamanic lifetimes since. She is a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist, Shamanic practitioner, certified in Shape Shifting from John Perkins, & a Reiki Master. She holds degrees in psychology and religion from
the University of Massachusetts. Trish teaches and lectures nationally on shamanism and healing. Her life calling is to facilitate healing of the soul. Her basic shamanism class offers CEU's to nurses. She has several convenient locations: Wendell, Woburn, and Sandwich Ma, She can be reached at 978-544-1155 by email: TrishCasimira@aol.com or web site: www.SoulJourneying.com .
This article was originally published in Spirit of Change Magazine, and can still be seen on the internet at www.inspirit.com