This guest post is from one of my favourite women’s authors, Jackie Singer.
In answer to Lucy’s recent blog post, Where are all the wise women? I would like to report that I have found two, at least, alive and well, and working in Dorset. It all started last May, when I was coordinating a women’s lodge for the Sacred Arts Camp in Oxfordshire. Our beautiful Mongolian yurt stood ready, and in morning meeting, my colleague Kesty Jakes and I stood up and invited women to come and help dedicate the space to the Divine Feminine. It was the first time we had led this space together, and we didn’t know who would come, if anyone.
A few women gathered, and then through the small door squeezed the impressive figure of a large-boned woman, probably in her fifties, with long raven hair. Her power and authority was palpable, and when she called in spirit to bless the space, it was clear she knew exactly what she was doing. From that moment on, I knew the women’s lodge would be just fine. And it was: an astonishing flow of healing and beauty, which needed only minimal coordination.
This woman, I discovered later, was Seersha O’ Sullivan, one of the teachers at Shamanka, a school of traditional women’s shamanism, based in rural Dorset. I knew instinctively that she had something I wanted to learn. I had a look at the Shamanka website, but hesitated. Partly, I felt like a kid in a sweet shop; the programmes all looked so delicious. On the other hand, the rational part of myself baulked at spending more money and time on this off-beat path. Didn’t I have a young family to look after? Shouldn’t I be maximising my income? After months of indecision, and working on some of these issues, I couldn’t resist any longer. I jumped in with both feet, and signed up for the start of the two-year course in shamanic healing, which started this month.
Before going, we were encouraged to dream into the spirit of Shamanka, and record any images that occurred to us. Shamanka, I learned, is the female version of the Shaman: a woman of power, vision, and healing. Why had I not known that before? When I visualised her, I saw Russian dolls, with small heads and wide bellies, one inside another. I saw bright colours. I saw the wild woman, with snakes for hair. And then I dreamed of a team of animals, ready to pull some kind of carriage. They had the bottom half of shire horses, with great, feathered hooves, and the top half of reindeer, with fabulous antlers reaching for the heavens. I am greatly comforted by this image of a creature deeply grounded and capable of work on the earth, also fully plugged into a magical sky-realm.
So, I am fresh back from my first weekend, and full of wonder for what I have experienced. The school was founded by Eliana Harvey, and here we meet another true Wise Woman. Eliana described herself as ‘very antique’ and she is, indeed, 82 years old. In her long life, she has studied with all manner of uncompromising shamanic teachers, and carries a natural authority as soon as she walks into a room. Still she was quick to point out that we were her teachers too. I don’t know whether she matches Lucy’s image of a Wise Woman. She probably doesn’t live in a shack in the woods, with row upon row of herbs in bottles. She is short and neat in stature, and speaks with a refined English accent. She could be a headmistress of a girls’ school, until she encourages us to “eff and blind as much as we like”. The only swear words at Shamanka, she tells us, are “I’m terribly sorry” and “I’m awfully afraid . . .” Hooray!
In her company, things that have unnerved me in the past, come to seem normal: tuning into stones, speaking with trees, just knowing things about people. With Eliana, casting a mantle of luminous energy over someone is as matter of fact as buttering toast. I can heartily recommend all Shamanka’s courses, and there is one coming up just this weekend, which feels particularly relevant to The Happy Womb: Cauldron of Mysteries :A powerful journey of re-discovery and potency of the Deep Feminine.(Click through link for flyer.)
The further I go in my journey towards the Divine Feminine, the more I come to understand how important the womb and the belly are to our power and intelligence as women. Trying to operate in the world without knowing this part of our body, is like trying to walk with only one leg. I imagine that after this course, a woman would come home with not just a ‘happy womb’ but one awakened to the magic of creativity and access to deep wisdom. A transformation of this kind is not just for the individual, but for the world. I really believe this is the medicine we need right now, collectively. I am so grateful to have found my teachers, and honoured to be an ambassador for their beautiful work.
Cauldron of Mysteries runs from 6th – 9th March at Star House, Middle Piccadilly – the home of Shamanka Healing.