What is a shaman?
Shamans are walkers between worlds. They journey, go out of their physical bodies into other worlds to gain understanding, knowing, knowledge, the 'bigger picture'. From this they enable the healing of other beings, creatures, people, plants, the land itself. Journeying is an essential part of being a shaman - else they are not walking between worlds. It can be difficult and dangerous. To be a shaman requires total commitment.
The word 'shaman' comes from a Siberian word of the Tungus tribe which speaks of someone who is 'excited' - you will experience this excitement on Rainbow Warriors. To excite means to stimulate, animate, motivate and even electrify, these are all qualities you will find within yourself as you progress through the course. Rainbow Warriors are able to converse with spirits, shapeshift, far-see, and work within the dream-world. Sometimes this appears as an amazingly simple, happening in the 'everyday world' - this is a part of magic, of shamanism, being able to see the extra-ordinary within the ordinary, and it's quite a skill. It works ... but only when you work for others and not for your own self-aggrandisement. The shaman is a servant to his people, not an autocrat or dictator.
This works through the old stages of Apprentice to Journeyman and finally to Master and is based around the three main tenets of spiritual practice
The study work includes reading and written assignments. The experience work includes journeying, ritual, ceremony, craft, storytelling. The service work is about work you do for others, people, animals, plants, the planet. You will need to write all of these up and send them to us. I will discuss these with you, help you find answers to your questions and support you through your apprenticeship and journeyman-ship.
Timing is important on the course, as in all magical work. You will need to organise your life to get your work to us on time. to help with this I suggest you find a rhythm to your work. Rhythm is one of the most important things in all shamanic practice. The training revolves and focuses around the seasons and the eight festivals of the Celtic year.
Reading. You will need to read a lot of stories, listen to music and songs as well as practise and write up your experiences. I give you a short reading list which is not exclusive. I want also to hear about books, music and songs which you have found useful. Story, song and poetry are the major ways the lore is transmitted in the Celtic tradition. I also encourage you to make your own poetry.
Craftwork is a major feature of the training. Shamans, like many magical practitioners, try always to make their own "paraphernalia". Making your own rattles, staff, mask, silver branch, Dreamweb, wand, drum, etc. invests the instrument with your own energy and that of the guides, helpers and other beings who were with you as you made it. This is very important to shamans.
Storytelling is also a major feature of the training. The lore was passed on through story, by the shaman or bard, and it is a beautiful art. The art of storytelling has cadence, rhythm, flow, loudness, softness, different tones. All these touch different parts of our inner being and can transport us across the worlds.
You will participate in a final workshop. This takes place over 14 days and is very experiential. You put into practice what you have learned over the three years, walking between the worlds, showing me what you know.
I ask you to tell us about yourself, your background and experience when you apply for registration. The training is deep work and will change your life. Both I and you need to know that you are ready for this before we proceed.
Lore - you learn will be about the spiritual structure of your own body and soul; how these work together; their connection to the Web of the World and to the Cosmic Web. Each lesson lasts six or seven weeks, corresponding to the rhythms of the eight Celtic festivals. The period from a Lunar festival to a Solar festival (e.g. Samhain to Winter Solstice) is seven weeks. The period from a Solar festival to a Lunar festival (e.g. Winter Solstice to Imbolc) is six weeks. Over this time you read, journey and so come to know a piece of grammarye (wisdom teaching) so that you can tell it back to me in your own words.
Experience comes about through the journeys and craft work and actually living your life. You'll find this changes as you grow through the course.
Journeying - This is what you do as a Walker Between the Worlds. During the first year you learn how to journey and journey on a particular theme; e.g. Meeting the World Tree, Introducing yourself to the 3 worlds, Meeting Your Familiar. Even if you already have a Familiar it will be well worthwhile re-making your relationship at the new level you will find yourself at on the course.
Craft - Making of your own magical implements, your paraphernalia, interacting with wood, stone, metal, plants, water, air, fire, in order to craft your shaman's tools will give you a very deep knowing and knowledge of how and why they work. This will stay with you far more than learning it out of a book. You have two seasons to make each craft-piece as it can (but doesn’t always) take time. You have to "envision" the instrument – the first is a Rattle – which means befriending the spirit of your rattle to show itself to you. Not someone else’s, yours. You find the materials and decorations, and make it yourself. You then enliven it, asking the spirit to come live in the Rattle and teach you how to use the instrument in ritual ceremony.
Storytelling - This helps your skills as Bringer Home of Wisdom, Mediator and Walker Between Worlds. To tell a story successfully is to live it, have it alive within you as you tell. You are there, seeing out of the characters' eyes, feeling with them, hearing and sensing. This way it becomes real for your audience. Also, you will find that the story itself has ideas of how it wishes to be - on this day. It will change itself as you form the words and surprise you.
Service ... do we do all this work for our own delight? It is unlikely we get too much delight if this is our aim. Funnily enough, sharing our loves and delights with others makes them get bigger rather than smaller. We enjoy ourselves more. Perhaps that is part of the "carrot" the gods offer to get us to do all this work! The form your service takes will be your own. There have been shamans who work as healers (of course) but also as financiers, people managers, vets, farmers, psychologists, factory workers, people who serve tea in cafes, writers, scientists, housewives and husbands, teachers, cooks, gardeners, policemen ... the list goes on forever. One of shamanism's main tenets is "inclusiveness".
Don't worry about how you may serve. It will come to you as you listen and work with Otherworld, a bit at a time, as you are able to see it.
Shamanism is about being within and a part of the world, a knowing rather than an unconscious part. Shamans work willingly within the world, knowing their deep connections to it over the whole life of our soul - which is made up of many, many personal lives. By service they help it to grow and realise its potential. As it becomes real to them so they discover a most joyful reason for being here.
The Australian native peoples say that only so much of the world as we can dream at any time is able to exist. We need to become greater Dreamers.
Intake of students
I take on new Apprentices at Samhain (31st October in the northern hemisphere, where I live) each year. If you would like to apply please do so by 1st August. I close the books on applications on 29th September each year and I need to discuss your application with you in great detail so make sure you have your application form in to us by August in the year in which you wish to begin the course.
If you would like to look at some other trainings with a Celtic perspective, try these ...
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