Shamanism

I began my shamanic studies in 1993. Two years later I was fortunate to receive a Fellowship which enabled me to go to New Mexico for a few months to meet traditional healers and carry out my project, entitled ‘Medicine People; Different Heritage, Common Ground’. My basic premise was that ancient healing traditions in diverse cultures work on restoring harmony to body, mind and spirit by looking at the whole person within the whole, removing the extraneous and retrieving what is lost.

I met a variety of healers during this time, including people from Hispanic and Native American traditions, as well as some ‘modern’ shamans, most notably Sandra Ingerman, who I already admired from reading her books. She became my first teacher of ‘practical shamanism’ and I realised my path was to become a shamanic practitioner myself. I wanted to study with the Foundation for Shamanic Studies, founded by Michael Harner, Sandra’s teacher. This was a bit tricky though, because they were based in California and I lived in Oxford. Fortunately for me, whilst I was trying to figure out how I was going to commute to California for three years, the Sacred Trust started running FSS practitioner trainings in England, so I did that instead and have been practising ever since and truly loving this work.

As well as the core shamanism practitioner training, I have completed a one year Soul Regeneration practitioner training with the Warrior in the Heart Foundation, and a one year apprenticeship programme with Nick Breeze Wood and Faith Nolton, as well as participating in many other short trainings and workshops and maintaining my own shamanic practice and learning on a daily basis.

 

I offer one to one sessions of Shamanic healing work and tuition.

The healing work is spirit-led and tailored to the individual, and includes;

Soul Retrieval

Soul Regeneration

Extraction

Depossession

Shamanic Counselling

I also love working with groups and sometimes run workshops in Oxford, as well as presenting at the Society for Shamanic Practitioner UK conferences and the Sacred Circle of Great Mystery conferences in British Columbia, Canada.

WINTER JOURNEY CIRCLE

Sunday December 16th, 2 – 5pm, at a private house in East Oxford.

The afternoon is open to anyone who has basic shamanic journeying skills, from novices through to experienced practitioners. It will be an opportunity to sit in circle with others on the shamanic path.

In keeping with this pivotal time of year as we draw close to the longest night of the year, which is followed immediately by lengthening days, we will take as our theme the interplay of darkness and light.

The cost is £30/£25/£20. Numbers are limited and to secure your place it’s essential to pay in advance.

12th UK RESIDENTIAL SHAMANIC GATHERING

EMBRACING THE EARTH MEDICINE

Wednesday 5th to Sunday 9th September 2018

EARTHSPIRIT CENTRE, DUNDON, nr GLASTONBURY, SOMERSET TA11 6PE

This gathering is open to all, including those new to Shamanism.

The theme of this year’s gathering is ‘Embracing the Earth Medicine’. My workshop is called, ‘Journey into the Embrace of the Earth’.

Last year I presented my workshop, ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’ at the 11th UK RESIDENTIAL SHAMANIC GATHERING at the EarthSpirit Residential Centre, Dundon, Nr Glastonbury, Somerset TA11 6PE 14th to 17th September

Feedback from ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’:

Love working with Supi – very gentle, strongly held space. Clear guidance and loving connections in a nice cosy space.

Beautiful and gentle.

Beautifully and strongly held space. Great experiential workshop, well structured and timed yet with space for everyone to share what was needed. Thank you.

Gentle and powerful and confirmational. Can’t speak highly enough of the teacher – held space superbly.

Lovely gentle teaching and space.

Wonderful, gentle but deeply profound. Loved it.

For more information or to book your place please contact Howard or Elsa

Tel:+44(0)7977 935633            

email: info@ukshamanicgathering.org.uk 

http://www.ukshamanicgathering.org.uk

Ceremony near Warsaw, Poland

(postponed until 2019 due to Polish organiser being injured)

Receiving the Earth’s Embrace

More information to follow. To get a general idea please scroll down to the description of the 2014 ceremony in Poland.

2017 Workshops

Summer Journey Circle Saturday 1st July

Small group, (max 6 people), 2- 5pm, at a private house in East Oxford.

The cost is £30/£25/£20.

This will be an opportunity to sit in circle with like-minded people, share and ask questions, and develop your journeying skills and understanding of shamanism. It is suitable for anyone with basic journeying skills (Lower and/or Upper world), as well as those with an established journeying practice. My experience is that when we put our intention into creating a safe circle by being open to and with others it can be very positive, powerful and transformative.

If you wish to attend please register and pay in advance to secure your place.

2016 Workshops

Oxford

2 Introductory Workshops

‘Shamanism for Beginners’

Part 1 Sunday 24th April 10.30 – 5pm (open to all).

Part 2 Sunday 26th June 10.30 – 5pm (open to all who have taken Part One, or have relevant experience)

The Yoga Barn, Wolvercote

£60/£55/£50 per day. (£20 discount if you book and pay for both in advance).

If you are curious to learn about, and have a direct experience of what shamanism is, these introductory days are for you. Topics covered will include: origins of shamanism and its relevance to us today; what shamans do, e.g. healing, teaching, divination. And, most importantly, you will learn to  journey shamanically. This involves relaxing into a receptive trance state, to the sound of a drum, with full and clear instructions. Shamanic journeying is a tremendously useful lifeskill to have. You can use it to seek support and guidance on questions or issues that are important to you, in order to problem-solve and/or make changes in your life. This work draws on ancient wisdom and practices, and helps improve your connection to your inner self and indeed all of life. It just helps us to make more sense of life in general.

Group size will be maximum of 12, allowing a safe space to be created.

Here are some comments about past ‘Shamanism for Beginners’ Workshops:

Many thanks for a wonderful event which really made me realize how easy we forget and which got me straight back into the right perspective, when I’d really slipped and was floundering! Your event relit the fire! Thanks to you I am now practicing daily drumming, journeying and establishing a regular morning practice. Again, many many thanks and I very much look forward to any further gatherings you might be considering/running. Howard

I must thank you for such an insightful and revealing day on Saturday, although I have not resolved a life time of difficulties I do feel that I have found some guidance to work towards a better, more constructive and harmonious way of life. Dominic

Sue is an excellent teacher, her communication is always very clear and she plans her work in a beautiful way, I always benefit from her teachings. Sophie

POLAND

In 2014 I facilitated a ceremony at the Nomadic Arts Festival in Poland.

www.nomadicartsfestival.com

Reflections on Nomadic 2014

The entire festival, from the moment I arrived at In Situ on Thursday evening to David’s memorable performance on the coach back to Warsaw, was one of the best times of my life. And that’s really saying something! A big thank you to everyone involved. You have touched me, heart and soul. An extraordinary group of people gravitated to these contrasting sites and shared a very special time. I loved the surreality of In Situ’s vast, abandoned industrial building, and then the contrast of Marcin’s home on the land, between wheat and pine. And the performances on the coach bridged the space between the two. For me it was an honour to be with each and every one present. I feel a glow inside that sustains me, as the days grow shorter and cooler.

Receiving the Earth’s Embrace

This was a healing ceremony revolving around a night spent buried in the earth. I had a vision of what I wanted to contribute through offering this ceremony; a coming-together in community, and celebration of our connectedness to all beings and to the Great Mother Earth. An opportunity for healing. It was my first time offering this work to a non-shamanic community. I believed it tied in perfectly with the theme of ‘Body and Earth’ but I had no idea whether anyone would even choose to participate! On Saturday morning thirteen souls responded to the invitation and followed the beat of my drum, in procession, to the site where we would spend that night. We formed our circle around the unlit fire pit and lay on the damp, fragrant earth, face and heart downwards. Thus began the deepening of our work, with the earth and with each other. I have a picture in my mind of a moment when everyone in the circle had bits of the sandy earth stuck to their face, before they brushed it away. Everybody looked so beautiful. Slowly and surely we connected as a group, forming a safe container for the experiences ahead and the feelings that would arise from them. Building trust is an essential element in healing. Fear keeps us clinging to ‘the devil we know’ and prevents us from realising our fullest potential.

When I had explained what was entailed in participating above and below ground it was time to make the choice. Nine decided to commit to burial, and four offered their services as supporters. Now it was time to get digging! We were blessed to be on soft, sandy soil. Everything needed to be left ready because it would be dark when we returned to the site. When the graves had been dug, planks were placed across the top and covered with tough material, onto which was shovelled much of the excavated earth. An opening was left at the head end, so that a person could slip inside cocooned in their sleeping bag. There was a wonderful spirit of cooperation while this practical work was being done. And much joking and laughter! I felt us becoming closer as a group, and I warmed to every single person, even though all but one had been strangers to me till that day. After the preparations were completed we each gathered two twigs and stood in circle again. One twig was held in the left hand and represented what we wished to release from our lives that night, whilst the twig in the right hand represented what we wanted to bring in for the future that would begin the next morning. After taking a moment to focus our intentions on the twigs I gave the group instructions to keep the twigs with them at all times throughout the afternoon and return with them in the evening. Then we dispersed for lunch and afternoon performances. We would resume our work together at 9pm.

In the intervening hours, a huge woodpile was gathered at the burial site for the fire that would burn throughout the night, and I drummed and called in the spirits. The sun shone, and on the rest of the land that was our temporary home remarkable, moving, physically and emotionally gruelling performances took place, delicious food was prepared and eaten with love, children and adults played, and there was not an electronic device in sight!

At 9pm we gathered, with warm clothing, sleeping bags, flashlights, – and twigs! I drummed as I led everyone back to our site, where a welcoming fire now blazed. After some sharing, ritual and setting of intention, including feeding our twigs to the fire, it was time for the nine to enter their tombs. Once they had snuggled in, their helpers covered the rest of the grave, just leaving a small air hole open near the person’s head. I was moved by the tenderness with which the helpers did this work. The instructions for those now lying within the earth were to introduce themselves to their mother earth and confide in her, telling her their life’s story and asking for healing for their woundings and unresolved issues. When they reached the present moment they would tell her of their hopes and dreams and wishes for the future and ask for her help in making them come true. I had urged them to keep speaking out loud, as this would help them to remain focussed and prevent them from falling asleep, although it was possible they would drift into dream states and have visions. I had reminded them several times to keep breathing and explained that it was perfectly natural for fear to arise and when that happened to just keep breathing through it and remind themselves of where they are and that they are in no danger and can come out at any time. Any fear arising during the night would be self-created and I’d invited them to be curious about their creation and their response to it. They were invited to make as much noise as they liked, sing, scream, shout, or whatever. We would only come to them if they called my name ‘Supi’ – that was the signal that they wanted help from us.

While those nine lay in the ground, receiving the earth’s embrace, the five of us remaining above ground held them in our hearts, fed the fire, sang, made music, danced, and admired the stars. Our intention was to keep them safe, and also reassure them of our presence nearby by letting them hear us, without intruding on their process. In their situation it would be all too easy to let one’s paranoia run riot and feel trapped and abandoned if you couldn’t hear anyone else around you. In different circumstances e.g. with shamanic practitioners, I might conduct this ritual in silence above ground, but it would not have been appropriate on this occasion.

It was a magical night under the stars. The place felt right and we even had a carved wooden angel, a fixture of the site, praying over us! You could feel the buzz of the work going on within the earth and hear the murmur of voices, speaking, singing, yelling, (as well as a bit of snoring here and there!) And I could not have wished for a more committed and loving group of supporters.

For seven hours the buried remained underground and we tended the fire and maintained our vigil. Our energy ebbed and flowed and time slowed down and speeded up. I am grateful for the trust I felt in the others to take charge of the fire and most of the singing and playing. It was essential that I kept some energy in reserve to hold the whole process together throughout the night, to deal with any unexpected occurrences, and lead the group through the final stages of the ceremony in the morning. There was an unexpected occurrence, but we were sent a guardian angel in human form to sort it for us. At some point in the night, maybe between 2 – 3am, someone nudged me and indicated that we had a visitor just beyond the firelight, a man who I didn’t recognise, quietly playing the jew’s harp. Although this was a closed ceremony, no observers permitted, I instinctively chose not to ask our unobtrusive guest to leave. Soon after, a car drove across the field, not far from us, and we heard the sound of inebriated young lads larking about and looking for some fun on a Saturday night. I was alarmed because they were likely to be drawn towards our fire. In order to reach it they’d have to walk over the area where our companions were buried. It was pitch dark and they wouldn’t see the little mounds of earth, marked with sticks at either end, and the narrow walkways between. If they walked over that area it was inevitable that they’d crash into the graves onto the people lying in them. A potential nightmare! Our visitor, who turned out to be Polish, seemed to glide over to the car where he spoke calmly with the lads, who departed peacefully. It was only as I was leading our ‘saviour’ back through the graves that I discovered he had no idea about the people buried there. He’d only arrived late that night, and been drawn to the fire. He didn’t know what we were up to, but had picked up on the importance of maintaining peace and calm. How he’d crossed the gravesite in the dark without stepping on a grave I do not know, but as I said, he appeared to glide. He melted away soon afterwards, and the rest of the night passed without incident. However, as morning drew nearer, I began to struggle with how s-l-o-w-l-y time was passing. They say ‘the darkest hour is just before dawn’ I think the slowest hour is around then as well. The night seemed endless, my enthusiasm was waning and I was becoming distracted by the urge to lie down, or to sip from a comforting mug of tea. I was even questioning whether I wanted to do this again. I was rescued from my slump when one of my companions rose to his feet and led us in a reviving dance around the fire. Energy levels were resurrected and when finally the sky began to lighten, I was almost sorry the night was over! Soon we could distinguish more and more of our surroundings and a glow arose in the East. It was time for our friends to emerge into the new day and their new life. It was amazing to witness these ‘newborns’. After they’d taken some time to greet the day, stretch and go pee etc, we gathered around the fire for the last time, to affirm our presence in the circle and share anything we were ready to give a voice to at that time. I suggested that we took time to absorb the experience and its effect on us, maybe choosing not to speak a great deal about it straight away. I recommended that everyone make some kind of record or piece of work to represent this experience and buddy up with someone from the group or someone else close to them, if they preferred, with whom they could share their record when they were ready. I also said I would absolutely love them to share it with me too.

These words only give the roughest outline of the actual experience, a chronological memory nudge for those who were there, and a glimpse for those who weren’t. Neither can words express the full extent of my love and gratitude towards all who were present, and all who made it possible, by organising the festival, digging the toilets, preparing the food, ‘chopping wood and carrying water’ both literally and metaphorically. And my deepest gratitude, as ever, goes out to our dearest Mother Earth.

Here are some comments I have received from participants:

‘It has been truly empowering. I agree that those two days seems like weeks of being away. I think the experience really has an effect on my relationship with people where I am now less scared to say what I think’.

‘While I was laying in the grave, talking, singing, and listening to you, singing outside I had this thought that when I’m in the ground, I actually have direct connection with every place on earth – I would feel the same lying in the grave in India, America or wherever in the world – I realised that I am, or actually we all are on a huge living organism that people try to define, divide and claim that it belongs to them…’ Dawid Planeta

I want to tell you how much of an impression your ceremony had on me. It was a very intense emotional experience and I am so glad to have lived it. I am really happy that I stayed above ground. I really appreciated being able to sing and be something of a watcher and a protector for these bodies that were on their own journeys to somewhere. I have been thinking a lot about this idea of nomadism in terms of connecting with the earth. How as bodies when we commune with nature are connected to the entire earth at the same time. I spoke with my mum about it, and her reaction at first was, but if you are in the ground isn’t that a bit anti- nomadic, in the sense that you can only stay in one place. And it was at that point that i realised that it is not about moving, being nomadic is something of a state of mind, being able to travel through different ideas, and places. The most nomadic place is in fact the earth, we are at once connected to everything. And then the idea of the sky, how we all look at the same moon, how the clouds pass over without borders and we can imagine all the people as one, sharing that same air. Kimbal Bumstead