Witches Soul Work: The Witch as a Shaman
“Shamanism is a world-wide practice in which the spiritual interrelationship of the earth with the Otherworlds forms an interwoven fabric of physical and psychic being, affecting all forms of life, both seen and unseen. Shamans are walkers between the worlds and interpreters of the spirit realms. They explore these unseen realms by means of the spirit journey (which occurs in shamanic trance) to interact with the beings they encounter there and to retrieve knowledge, healing and advice, which may benefit the people.
Shamanism exists among peoples who have an animistic worldview; in many cultures it functions as spirituality, although it often exists separately from formal religion as a healing, divinatory and spiritual practice. Shamanism is identifiable the world over by its practices, chief of which are the spirit-journeys to gain information, healing, divinatory and prophetic insight, and to enter into ancestral discourse.” (from The Encyclopedia of Celtic Wisdom by Caitlin and John Matthews)
As you can see from this lovely definition, Witches are Shamans. Our practice involves our spiritual relationship with the world and other life forms both seen and unseen. Magic and healing works because of our interrelationship and our connection with allies, both plant and animal (familiars), ancestors (honoured at Samhain), trance work done in ritual and healing and many forms of divination such as tarot, runes, pendulums etc. The Witches were the Shamans of the British Isles and we are back!
Here are some ideas to get you started on incorporating traditional Shamanism in your practice. Please remember that we are reclaiming our own heritage, not stealing someone else’s. We are not First Nations people and we cannot steal their rituals and plonk them down into our Witches Circle. The first rule of the Witch and Shaman: Be impeccable!
The First Journey: Dedication
You will need a small pouch and a small blank book. Purify and consecrate the pouch and the book with a special prayer or poem that you have created yourself. These are your first words of power. Do not share these words with anyone. Keeping them secret will increase their power. You can use these words for blessing objects and people from now on, whispering them as you rattle, drum, or hum over the person or object to be blessed.
In a solitary ritual travel to meet the God and Goddess you work with. Tell Them your intention to seriously take up the Way of the Shaman in the context of the Craft. Tell them why you wish to do this. Ask Them for Their blessings. Perhaps they will give you a gift that you can use on your path. When you return from your journey find something that represents this gift and put it as the first object in your new Witch’s pouch.
The Second Journey: Meeting a Teacher
This important journey is to meet your new teacher. A Shamanic Teacher is waiting to teach you things you could not imagine possible. In a journey visualize your Place of Power; make sure you feel comfortable and safe there. Invite your familiar and any other guides that you work with. Tell them that you are looking for a truly wise and impeccable Shamanic Teacher in spirit and that you wish to apprentice to him or her. Ask them to take you on a journey to meet this Witch Shaman. There are Witches in Spirit, called “The Mighty Dead” who are watching over us and are willing to help you. (See :The Mighty Dead by Christopher Penczak)
When you meet someone who comes forward to be your teacher you must ask him or her three times and three times get a very clear “yes” from him. You must also have permission from your guides to start your apprenticeship with this Witch Shaman. Ask him if he expects any sort of payment from you for the training. If he says “yes” be sure it is something that causes no harm to you or your honour or anyone else. Make sure it is something you are willing to do or give. Get permission from your guides. For example: If he asks you to do one healing a month for a stranger, you must agree to this term before you start. It’s up to you!
After you have accepted his terms and he has accepted you, ask him for a token to put in your Witch’s pouch that symbolizes your apprenticeship. (As above, find something in the ordinary reality that symbolizes this gift and keep it in your pouch.) Now ask your new Shamanic Teacher to tell you what your next step is. What do you need to do or learn?
When you return from this journey it is very important to write down everything immediately. You have been in trance, an altered state of consciousness, and if you don’t write down your experiences, thoughts and feelings right away some of the knowledge you have gained will be lost. If you don’t know how to do Shamanic Journeying, also called by Witches “flying” please check out this link: http://www.corpshaman.com/exercises.asp
This is the beginning of an interesting journey that can deepen your soul work. For more support and to take courses you can also connect with The Foundation for Shamanic Studies in the area where you live. https://www.shamanism.org/