Monday 20 June 2011

Shamanism without Borders and the Power of Community (by Astrid Gude)

Drawn back to the ancient landscapes of New Mexico, so full of light, sacred sites, indigenous spiritual wisdom and beauty, I attended the annual conference of the US American Society for Shamanic Practitioners in May this year. It was a four day event, held in a conference centre in the desert near Santa Fe, and  devoted to the theme of Shamanism without Borders and the Power of Community. Among the sixty participants there were just two practitioners from Europe, both based in Scotland, besides myself a woman working in Edinburgh who I had met previously in one of Franco's astroshamanic workshops at Findhorn.

Very different from other conference schedules, which often have a variety of talks, presentations etc., this event, led by shamanic teacher Sandra Ingerman and radio presenter/dance teacher  Michael Stone, focused on experiential work, providing a practical experience of building community and doing spiritual work as a community on behalf of the land. The project of Shamanism without Borders, birthed at last year's annual conference, aims at bringing groups of practitioners together who want to be of service to the planet with spiritual means when destruction happens through man-made or environmental events.

Sandra quoted the Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh who said that the next Buddha is going to be a community, not a person. The first full day of the conference had a focus on embodiment, being in the body, being a strong presence of love and light, and building community through ecstatic dancing and shamanic journeying to explore and shift with the help of power animals and teachers the shadow states that keeps us separate. The approach of alternating dancing and  journeying through various stages created very tangible and embodied cellular experiences of creating community until there is oneness, one  pulsation, a highly amplified radiance. This field felt very, very alive to all of us.

The next day took us out to the land. We met at sunrise for prayer and ceremony with Jose Lucero, one of the elders of the nearby Santa Clara Pueblo, who later in the afternoon also held a healing ceremony for the Rio Grande, the legendary river,  that is quite gravely polluted by the nuclear facilities in New Mexico. We spent time in the morning with deep listening, listening to the land and listening to the voices of the ancient ones on sites where the Anasazi had lived in the past. When we gathered in the evening, we shared the messages that were received, deep and touching. Mine, when just gazing over the land, the river landscape, the bizarre rock formations and the ancient cave dwellings, was: "Continue to weave the thread of piece and beauty".

I left the conference with a lot of gratitude - gratitude for this opportunity to meet with other people, on a different continent, who have such a commitment to being the change, gratitude to the spirits of the land, the ancestral spirits and all the experiences of the power of community.

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