The wind in the trees, the waves running across the surface of the water, the gentle sigh of the earth as she settles into herself each day – all of life is energy and in constant movement. When we live on the land, with the land, we learn the rhythms of the earth. When we learn the rhythms of the earth, we learn our own rhythms; we learn to flow with all the energies around us.
It can be challenging to listen and feel the rhythm of the earth and your own rhythms though the din of traffic and the solid concrete beneath your feet. The cry of the eagle, the song of the frog or the chatter of the ants is drowned out by the noise of progress and modern society, still there, yet unheard and unheeded by those who most need to listen – humans.
I love being in the forest or on the beach, away from the smells and sounds of the city. Cities have their own vitality and rhythms; an incredible creativity is born from their energy. Balance and harmony are required in your life and being in the energy of natural spaces, whether in a park or greenspace within your city, or far into the vast open natural spaces outside the city is vital to your well-being – Nature is a natural healer.
Shamans, Witches and Pagans know this, as does anyone who has spent any time in their garden, parks or deep in the forests. Even more so when you rely on your natural surroundings for thriving and surviving.
I consider myself extremely fortunate to have grown up in a nature-oriented family. My family owns property on Mayne Island, on Canada's West Coast, and for much of my childhood the beaches and forests were my second home. When my family moved east to Montreal I was fortunate to have an uncle who owned a cottage on a lake in the Laurentians, Lake McDonald. There I explored the swamps and forest, canoeing and swimming in the summer and cross-country skiing in the winter.
I grew up learning how to find and harvest wild mushrooms and other edibles from the forest and fields. I learned how to fish at an early age and how to collect clams, crabs, mussels and oysters from the beach. I looked forward to the first shoots of spring and the delicious taste of fiddleheads and early, wild garlic. Summer was filled with wild blackberries,raspberries and Salal berries and autumn found us tromping through the forests, collection bags in hand, searching for wild chanterelle and boletus mushrooms. In winter my mother would bring out the taste and fragrance of all the other seasons in jars of jam and bags of frozen fruit and cooked mushrooms. I was truly blessed.
I grew up within the seasons of the year and although my survival as a modern child didn't depend on the wild things we harvested throughout the year, growing up the way I did gave me a deep appreciation for the rhythms of the earth and the cycles of life. It also sparked my interest in herbs, and other wild foods which can be used for healing on many levels. And not just herbs but also minerals, gems and the very energy of the planet – each have healing attributes which can help you be well and whole, supporting you on this journey of being human.
Ancient people knew this, they had to. Our ancestors wouldn't have survived if they didn't know, understand and harvest from their natural surroundings. To thrive, they also needed to know how to see, feel and understand the energies around them; they had to know what to listen to and when. Our ancestors knew how the seasons changed and they knew how to read the night sky, to understand the bigger rhythms of the universe as well.
Much has survived of this wisdom and experience, if you know where to look for it and how to ask about it. This knowledge is within you; it's in your DNA, your very cells. And if, for some reason, it's buried to deeply for you to remember on your own, there are many who can teach you to remember, who can re-connect you to your inner wisdom and divine guidance. These are the Shamans, Witches and Pagans of our modern era, women and men who have remembered, or never forgotten. You can learn from them, not at the exception of modern knowing, but in conjunction with it.
You are fundamentally a Healer, whether you follow the Shaman, Wiccan or Pagan path – or the many other paths there are to walk. Each tradition has as its foundation the practice of healing, peace and natural wisdom; co-operation rather than competition. Current scientific and medical research is paying attention to ancient wisdom as both professions search for cures in the plant and mineral worlds, for solutions to illness and disease that human-made cures can't reach.
Researchers are listening to Healers when we speak of shifting a person's beliefs or changing their relationship with their life experiences, with a new understanding that there can be no lasting cures unless the person is treated on all levels; physically, emotionally and energetically, Mind, Body and Soul.
A Shaman is a healer who holds the Soul Health of her community and has the responsibility of helping the community through direct contact with the sacred. She's the go-between for the individual and Spirit, as through her initiations and practices, she can go deeper into the realms of spirit then the individual can. A Shaman is initiated through specific trials or traumatic life events which she survives – being a survivor is one of the hallmarks of being a Shaman.
A Witch is a woman, or man, who has reclaimed the role of the Wise Woman, or Wise One in their community. While the term Witch is found worldwide, it's often associated with
a European decent. The reclaiming of the term Witch as a positive label is necessary for the healing of the wounds left to us from the Inquisition, The Burning Times and even earlier as the one God religions turned on women and all things feminine. Much of the healing knowledge of herbs and other natural medicines were lost to us during The Burning Times and even today few people know of the medicinal properties of even the most common kitchen seasonings. Wicca is the spiritual practice of those who call themselves Witches, with its traditions deeply rooted in the cycles of the seasons and the phases of the moon. (for more information on The Burning Times, follow this link to the NFB site and Donna Read's documentary series - https://www.nfb.ca/film/burning_times/)
A Pagan is a person who identifies with Nature Spirituality, with a strong connection to the equality of the feminine and the masculine through worshiping both the Goddess and the God and a myriad of other energy beings and elementals. Pagans often consider themselves to be outside of organized, structured religions. Many Pagans today also celebrate the cycles of the seasons and fight for the protection of the earth. They looked to forgotten tradition of the Druid, Celtic and Northern European civilizations, as well as the Norse and Mediterranean cultures of the past.
I identify with each of these types of spirituality and healing. My children know me as a Witch, an Intuitive or Psychic Healer and as a friend to the faeries and other elemental beings. I work with many healing modalities because I know that what might work for one person will need to be different for another. I can speak to you of herbal remedies, gems and crystal healing, colour healing, energy healing and hold space for your story all at the same time. My background is in Women's Studies and Social Work, Geology and Horticulture, and in my life's experiences – the University of Life.
You have your own wisdom from your life experiences and learning as well and it all has great value for those around you. Do you know what you know? Have you ever created an "I Know This" list? Try it, it may surprise you where your talents and gifts lie! And you may decide if you're a Shaman, Witch, Pagan, or all three.