Hired as a Shaman

In lat summer I have been approached by the city of Bracebridge, to join them as an employee of the City to bring some of the workshops I usually provide for the community under the umbrella of the Culture and Recreation Department.

I was not interested.

But, they said, I would get paid by them! 🙂

Not very much, certainly not equivalent to what I normally get paid, if they hire me as an “independent consultant”and workshop provider in this department.

In the end they chewed me down and I agreed – at least for this winter – to see, how it goes…….

BB drumming flier

They first wanted to write Shaman/ “Medicine Woman” onto my contract of employment and on the fliers for the workshops I agreed to provide. But I told them, the word Medicine Woman was controversial, as it is understood – by the Native American (First Nations) – to mean “one of THEIR Medicine People” – like a Lodge Leader, Faith Keeper (Sachem) or Shaking Tent man or Pipe Carrier……..

The word shaman is not as widely known among the general population here in Ontario and often I get asked, what exactly that is. When I explain, that it is a Siberian term for a “Medicine Person, that gains information and help from the Spirit World during theta trance journeys brought on by drumming ”

they say Ooh, like a Medicine Man! – Or ah, you are a Witch Doctor!

NO, I am not!

I am not a witch and I am not a doctor, although I do have a current RN licence and am training as a Jungian analyst from a Western university.

My father’s people call a person that does the things I do a “Kham”, leading Khamlanies = healing and other rituals.

Udega is another similar word but it rather describes a person working with herbs and potions.

Someone who uses drums and chants , who has one or more Spirit Guides, mostly in Animal form that he or she contacts while drumming in order to find out what is wrong with a client is called a Kham. The word this culture uses is Shaman, also a Siberian word, Tunguse to be precise, it is descriptive of someone entering ecstatic trance in order to help, advise, divine, heal, and otherwise aid the community.

Living here in the West I claim this word as a befitting description for me because it points not only towards what I do but also to my Siberian heritage and distances me from the also often used term “Medicine Woman” that implies Native American heritage and incidentally would be analogues to the word Udega among Siberian people.

Shaman however is not what I do, it is what I am. It permeates every aspect of my daily life, my art, the way I teach at elementary and university level, the way I engage the Spirits in order to facilitate healing, the way I mentor my students, and how I conduct public multicultural gatherings and rituals.

But generally the ordinary folk here in Muskoka do not care so much about what I am called; they are waaaay more interested in what I do and what I teach THEM to do.

One lady, that signed up for the upcoming drum workshop and was advised by one of the town clerks taking in her application, that no, I was not going to do any healing right there…. She reportedly replied: ”I do not care if Mi-Shell teaches knitting this fall, my sisters and me and a few friends will be there and we will learn something that will be important to us – and besides, something awesome always happens anyway…..”

Well, we will see…..

Drumming:

About me and drumming:
To me my work with drums and drumming, is an inseparable aspect of being Shaman —
My people call a person that does the things I do a “Kham”, leading a Khamlanie = a healing and/ or other rituals. Udega is another Siberian word but it rather describes a person working with herbs and potions. 
Someone who uses drums and chants , who has one or more Spirit Guides, mostly in animal form that he or she contacts while drumming in order to find out what is wrong with a client is called a Kham. The word this culture uses is Shaman, also a Siberian word, Tunguse to be precise and descriptive for someone entering ecstatic trance in order to help, heal, or otherwise aid the community.
In this culture I claim this word as a befitting description for me because it points not only towards what I do but also to my Siberian heritage and distances me from the also often used term “Medicine Woman” that implies Native American heritage and incidentally would be analogues to the word Udega among Siberian people. 
Shaman however is not what I do, it is what I am.
It permeates every aspect of my daily life, my art, the way I teach at elementary and university level, the way I mentor my private students, and how I conduct public multicultural gatherings and rituals.
Teaching at the Pow Wow
………………………………………………………………………………………………….The musical aspect of my practice as a shaman involves drums and drumming as well as chants, traditional ones and others received in trance states and by extension movement and dance.
To me drumming in itself has different aspects that all fit onto a fluid continuum from light-hearted fun all the way to deep states of conflict resolution and healing.
Describing this continuum in more detail I want to first mention community based events that I facilitate and supply a multitude of drums and percussion instruments for:
There is the Bracebridge Drum Circle that gathers every Tuesday evening and provides everyday fun, good for you drumming. People come to jam together and also practice culture specific rhythms from around the world.

Next is my Frame Drum Circle, called “The Healing Drum” It is centred around spirituality and personal growth and I teach the use of the drum as a tool for relaxation and meditation, anger management and conflict resolution and -on occasion- I facilitate cathartic psychological ab-reactions for participants and lead them into profound healing states.

Next there would be the Native American ceremonies and other events I attend and also participate in as a teacher, setting up my teaching tent and bring drums for the people that gather around. Aside from other teachings I teach drum songs and chants. And we of course have the big Pow Wow drum there. I am a Drum Keeper, have received a 4 foot in diameter grandfather Drum from one of my clients… I bring that to events for the community to use. – See a pic about all the kids around it on the previous post about me in schools……

Here we are at home:
HealingprayersonthelargeMedicineDrum
 
In the Longhouse we sing and dance to the Mohawk water drum, that the Sachem plays. We accompany him with horn rattles..Even further along the continuum is my use of drums in shamanic healings. When I either drum with or for an individual client in order to put him/ her and me into trance, so I can “see” into the body/soul to find the cause of an illness or dis-ease.

The last on the continuum is me, alone, drumming and chanting, most every night to initiate and maintain altered states of consciousness and thereby see/find out about concerns I have for self and others. 
That is also where I receive most of my chants and where rituals are “born” as finished entities, ready to be used with the community and where the concept of much of my artwork comes from….. 
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Hemispheric synchronization
or 
How the healing Drum works
One of the most powerful aspects of drumming and the reason that people have done it since the beginning of being human is that it changes people’s consciousness. Through rhythmic repetition of ritual sounds, the body, brain and the nervous system are energized and transformed. When a group of people play a rhythm for an extended period of time, their brain waves become entrained to the rhythm and they have a shared brain wave state. The longer the drumming goes on, the more powerful the entrainment becomes. . All of the oldest known religious rites used drumming as part of the shared sacred experience. 
It is interesting to look at these ancient drumming practices from the perspective of the latest scientific research into the functioning of the brain. Using electro-encephalographs, scientists can measure the number of energy waves per second pulsing through the brain. A system of classifying states of consciousness according to the frequencies of these waves was created. 
Normal outwardly focused attention generates beta waves which vibrate from 14 to 40 cycles per second. When awareness shifts to an internal focus, our brain slows down into the more rhythmical waves of alpha, vibrating at 7 -14 waves per second. Alpha is defined by relaxation and centering. Dropping down to 4- 7 cycles per second the brain enters the theta state in which there is an interfacing of conscious and unconscious processes, producing hypnagogic dream-like imagery at the threshold of sleep. 

Theta is the source of sudden mystical insights 
and creative solutions to complex situations and is 
marked by physical and emotional healing. People with a preponderance of theta brain waves are also able to learn and process much more information than normal. Without some form of intensive training, it is hard to stay awake in theta–one slips quickly down into delta. This is the slowest brain wave frequency, 1-4 cycles per second, the state of unconsciousness or deep sleep. 
The brain is divided into two hemispheres that are basically split in their control of the thinking process. The right brain functions as the creative, visual, aural and emotional centre. The left brain is the rational, logical, analytical and verbal administrator. Generally, either the right or left brain dominates in cycles lasting from 30 minutes to 3 hours. While one hemisphere is dominant, the memories, skills, and information of the other hemisphere are far less available, residing in a subconscious or unconscious realm. Not only do the right and left brain operate in different modes, they also usually operate in different brain wave rhythms. The right brain may be generating alpha waves while the left brain is in a beta state. Or both can be generating the same type of brain waves, but remain out of sync with each other. But in states of intense creativity, deep meditation or under the influence of rhythmic sound, both hemispheres may become entrained to the same rhythm. This state of unified whole brain functioning is called hemispheric synchronization or the awakened mind. As the two hemispheres begin to resonate to a single rhythm, a sense of clarity and heightened awareness arises. The individual is able to draw on both the 
left and the right hemispheres simultaneously.
The mind becomes sharper, more lucid, 
synthesizing much more rapidly than normal,
and emotions are easier to understand 
and to transform.

User avatar
Mi-Shell
 

2 New Chants, that I “found”

I never know, where the chants come from.

They are “out there”, in the Medicine Lines called the “collective unconscious” by CG Jung

I drum…..

…..the trance comes……

….. flirrrrry lines, sparkling in the bluish blackness…..

…..then somehow the drum rhythm changes….

….. a melody instead of a steady beat……

….. and then words drift in……

….. after a while I just sing along…..

…..Then, after a while it is time, to come back.

.

Will I remember the chant, the melody, the words…

It is easier, when that is in English….

But sometimes it is not……

What language is it?

Questions the analytical mind will ask –

– and I may or may not have the answer…..

.

.

.

.

Artwork  by Frank Howell

http://www.frankhowellgallery.com/artists/frank-howell

and Khambra Scarre

Teaching the children

Continuing from the previous post 🙂

After opening speeches and me doing the Noon Day Prayers and smudging, it was time for some teachings.

There were several school classes of kids from age 6 to 12 there to learn about First Nations culture. There also were quite a number of adults there and lucky for me several First Nations People also joined the circle.

I Had set up a small teachingdisplay and we discussed the meanings of Eagle, Wolf, Buffalo and Bear,  the Guardians of the 4 directions for the Anishinaabe People and the kids got a chance to handle an Eagle feather, a Buffalo horn, a Wolf ‘s tail and the Bear skull.

Then, on we went to the culture of the Haudenosaunee Longhouse and where the differences are.

Deer antlers, and other items were inspected and questions answered. We talked about how the Anishinaabe smudge and why the Mohawk People do not, but rather use Tobacco Prayers and how to conduct oneself when such an opportunity arises.

I also addressed some more problematic areas like why the white settlers tried to kill all the Wolves in the area while the First Nations watched in horror. Wolf is seen as an important teacher of family values, endurance and survival skills apart from being a mayor Clan Guardian for all First Nations.

There would be much to tell, but I also wanted to mention, that whenever a First Nations person is in the circle, I always give them the word to chime in and contribute or share personal experiences or give teachings.


2 hours of teachings go by very fast and then it was time for drumming!

They had all waited for that! We had to take turns to give all the kids a chance to play either the big Pow Wow drum or one of the frame drums I had brought for the occasion.

I explained, that the large drum was a gift from one of my clients and that it represents the voice of the Earth Mother. We played the heart beat and I sang a chant or 2.

Kids always want to speed up the beat and singing is a good trick to slow them down. Some children have lots of trouble keeping the beat or rhythm while others take to it easy and right away.

Some Anishenaabe Women see it as a special privilege to be able to play the big drum, because the men in their communities usually restrict them from even touching a Pow Wow drum. In the last few years there are a few female drum groups but they often experience the full brunt of rejection from their male contemporaries. No such problems exist in the communities of the 6 Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy 🙂

Everyone enjoyed the drumming sessions and at the end all the participants followed me in a traditional Closing Prayer.

Shi’ Meegweetch

Niawe

Shya’-nam

Thank you all


A shaman drums……..

To me my work with drums and drumming, is an inseparable aspect of being Shaman —

My people call a person that does the things I do a “Kham”, leading Khamlanies = healing and other rituals. Udega is another similar word but it rather describes a person working with herbs and potions.

Someone who uses drums and chants , who has one or more Spirit Guides, mostly in animal form that he or she contacts while drumming in order to find out what is wrong with a client is called a Kham. The word this culture uses is Shaman, also a Siberian word, Tunguse to be precise and descriptive for someone entering ecstatic trance.

In this culture I claim this word as a befitting description for me because it points not only towards what I do but also to my Siberian heritage and distances me from the also often used term “Medicine Woman” that implies Native American heritage and incidentally would be analogues to the word Udega among my people.

Shaman however is not what I do, it is what I am. It permeates every aspect of my daily life, my art, the way I teach at elementary and university level, the way I mentor my private students, and how I conduct public multicultural gatherings and rituals.

………………………………………………………………………………………………….

The musical aspect of my practice as a shaman involves drums and drumming as well as chants, traditional ones and others received in trance states and by extension movement and dance.

To me drumming in itself has different aspects that all fit onto a fluid continuum from light-hearted fun all the way to deep states of conflict resolution and healing.

Describing this continuum in more detail I want to first mention community based events that I facilitate and supply a multitude of drums and percussion instruments for:

There is the Bracebridge Drum Circle that gathers every Tuesday evening and provides everyday fun, good for you drumming. People come to jam together and also practice culture specific rhythms from around the world.

Next is the Frame Drum Circle, called “The Healing Drum” It is centred around spirituality and personal growth and I teach the use of the drum as a tool for relaxation and meditation, anger management and conflict resolution and -on occasion- I facilitate cathargic psychological ab-reactions for participants and lead them into profound healing states.

Even further along the continuum is my use of drums in shamanic healings. When I either drum with or for an individual client order to put him/ her and me into trance, so I can “see” into the body/soul to find an illness or dis-ease.

The last on the continuum is me alone, drumming and chanting, most every night to initiate and maintain altered states of consciousness and thereby see/find out about concerns I have for self and others. That is also where I receive most of my chants and where rituals are “born” as finished entities, ready to be used with the community and where the concept of much of my artwork comes from…..