War and The Human Nature

Yesterday I finished reading this book, it’s the second book I read about the life of a Native Indian tribe – the first one was about the Hopi. This specific book is the story of the life of Pretty-Shield, which is intertwined with the story of her tribe when they were free and the bisons lived.

Without having read any book about the Native Indians, you will agree with me that we generally look at them as wise, peaceful, etc. they remind us of a time when everything worked, when nature was flourishing, when peace was reigning on Earth. Ahem really?
In this book, Pretty-Shield speaks of the numerous wars they lived between the tribes. They were ALWAYS at war, especially with the Lakota. Men wanted war: they would go steal horses from the Lakota, or the Lakota would come for food in the Crow land, or just for revenge… and you know revenge is a never ending thing – until the last man dies. It was actually a thing of pride to be killed in battle.
This made me think especially of the upcoming war we are observing today between the US and the Middle East. I said to myself “so really it’s part of the human nature, there cannot be a world without war” ….
My friend Michela agreed  “yes the essence of life is death and destruction”.

I believe the Old Sages knew this and accepted this thing… to the point of living lightly. And laughed.
“We are always at war. War is an illusion… every war outside is an archetype of what we have inside… “ – Michela – “War is contrast, CONFLICTO… envy, jealousy, falseness, hoax, lie”.

And so yes we are always at war, be it:
small or big
visible or invisible
openly declared or secret

I see people are very sad about what is happening far away from them, some feel guilty for having a good life when others don’t, many are angry, a lot are depressed. Yet we should give thanks for the life we are living today. Accept that the world has different realities. People have different realities.
I’m not saying to be indifferent and not caring, for Balance on Earth lays in that tension between war and peace, good and bad. Perhaps something useful could be to ask yourself where is the war in your life? Can you bring peace there? How can we bring peace to a conflict such as US and Middle East if we still strive to live a peaceful life in our day to day reality? ….

What I observe changed from the times when the Native Indians ruled the American grasslands is the awareness and the knowledge of the human nature. Humans and spirits also worked together and that helped maintain balance. There were rituals for everything. People knew when to feast and when to mourn. People could read the signs and rarely went out of the track. …. at last there was little space for caos.

Of course today is different, we don’t live in tribes anymore… or do we?

We have a limited time. We don’t even know how much is that. Make the most and best of it. Be the happiest you can be (and again, not saying you need to become the selfish asshole – hope it’s clear), be the best YOU you can be. Don’t try save the world, for the world will be saved when each one of us has saved him/herself.

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Italian Shamanism: The Healing & The Treatments

The following article has been written by my friend Michela Chiarelli regarding the Traditional Healing Techniques used in the Italian Shamanism (about which still very little is known let alone written!). But before I let you go on reading I felt a need to ask a few things about the role of the Priestess.

What is a Priesthood?

MC: It is a service to others and hardly anyone in the world today puts themselves in the position of being able to help others and not themselves.

One is born with these characteristics, I entrust few people with a grant and I would entrust even less people with a priesthood. Simply because, and I’m sure you agree with me, modern people are very focuse on themselves.

A Priestess is one who must possess the keys between the two worlds, be able to open the doors, recognize signs and omens, and not just make of some roles a source of pride.

Today there are no Priestesses who serve the people and the Divine…

Today there are no Priestesses who keep the fire burning.

Today is a job…

What did the world with the loss of Priestesses?

MC: The good magic, the brotherhood, the collective defense, the balance between light and shadow…

In everyday practices, in everyday life…

There is no more Balance.


Ancient Dynamic Techniques Of Healing 

The significant difference is that in the Italian Ethno-Cultural tradition, the healing and the treatments are distinguishable from one another based on a complete and unique technique in the world, which studies the individual in all his aspects by participating with its ancient arts in every healing process.
The Rituals are the choreography that makes the Dance of Life so extraordinary… they are defined Dynamic Arts, in a mystic and material vision, because the recipient must actively participate.

The Ritual of Shamanic Healing

The ritual is the choreography that makes the Dance of Life extraordinary… in the Italian Shamanism the treatments are mostly manual techniques, or of sound and singing. The healings are true shamanic rituals to which one gets initiated since a very young age… beware of imitations.

They are usually interconnected: after a healing ritual, which is the revelatory part, comes the shamanic treatment which is the practical part. These two steps sometimes are interdependent and sometimes not.

Many times, during my experience, I’ve been asked how an Italian Shamanic Healing ritual takes place in practice.
The practice itself is personal and private! I can proudly say that every student of mine develops his/her gifts and abilities, and becomes a unique therapist.

Surely in an article I won’t be able to spread how an Italian Shaman’s works in reality, nor how the rituals are performed.

The Place is Nature

Above everything, it’s important to choose the place where to perform the ritual. Each Shaman Priestess chooses the appropriate territory. A place where the elements can be perceived in their fullness. The powers of nature make our Being vibrate strongly, through the contact with the Mother of all things our body vibrates and our mind is refined. Perceptions touch every creature and everything can be transformed. The cold wind of winter, or the warm wind of summer, the lashing of the rain or the scent of the grass, the sound of the waves and under your feet, the heat of the sand: all this gives power to the body, heart and spirit.
The place is chosen according to the possibilities of the recipient, the purpose of the ritual and to the most intimate intent of the Shaman Priestess. It is our very nature that merges with the solution before beginning to operate, only in this way it is allowed to Divine, See, Feel and Reconnect to wellness.
Communion must be created with the place where you are. The Shaman Priestess undresses of her Human being, remembers her creative power, experiences the Sacred of the Moon in herself, then sits on a stone, on the bare earth, on the sand, in her home, in front of the fireplace, a burning candle or a fire, and starts singing.
Gently first and intensely then she begins to clap her hands on her drum, or to slide the strings on her harp, making the void inside herself, leaving the rest of the world outside, and opening her soul to infinity, she begins to ask indications and fuses with the messages from the cosmo opening herself to Divination.
Inside herself she Travels, Sees, Discovers, Thanks, Cries, Loves, Heals, Solves, but it is FUNDAMENTAL TO MOVE IN NATURE FOR THE BODY IS OUR GREATEST TOOL.
She melts herself with the Creative Mother of everything. The Shaman Priestess becomes part of the Whole. To draw lessons from the wonderful world that hosts us, she collects wood, herbs, stones and feathers, then through the Divination of what her mind sees, she captures every aspect and every meaning hidden in her Loot. She asks for support to the flight of the birds, to the falling leaves, to the meeting with some animals, for a Moon Woman everything collaborates in the great Mystery of the Shamanic Rite.
The sacred place par excellence is our heart, our mind, our Room of projections, there where we can create change.

The Call of the Spirits

If you listen you will hear the voice of the wind whispering the truth you are looking for.
After practicing Divination, when the Ancestral Correspondences are favourable, we proceed to the next step of the ritual which is the calling of the Spirits of the Four Directions. The traditional names change, but basically they are the ones we all know: North, South, East, West. The calling technique, we’ll see later, varies itself from Memory to Tradition. The call itself is a declaration of intent, in which the reason for our action is manifested and a deep connection is invoked with with the world around us and with the Spirits that represent it, both as elemental forces and as elements themselves. Dancing, walking, swimming or simply lying on the ground our spirit flies and calls the closest Spirits!

Purification

Purification opens the mind to the song of the Infinite.
After the call of the Spirits it comes the time to Purify oneself, lighting the incense or herbs and letting them burn in the brazier.
Fumigation brings our being to a very high state of peace and purity, and for this reason it is a fundamental phase of the Rite to be practiced. With the Censer or the Brazier in hand, continuing from North to West, we pay homage to the elements, purify the place and create a circle of protection. This serves to regenerate, the energies of the places, to hunt away the evil spirits and to protect those who participate in the Rite, both the Priestess and any other participants.

The Dance of Animals

In movement in similarity we acquire divine characteristics.
In the complete fusion with the place that hosts us, after the Divination and a purification of our Being, we procede with the works that can open our awareness to the perception of the Divine that surrounds us. So we procede with the dance of the animals which is a set of rhythmic movements that induce a fusion of the Shaman Priestess with an animal. The aim is to obtain a deep connection with the place and with some Spiritual characteristics of the animal itself that can stimulate the Shaman’s perception by making her faculties more acute.
It is not a dangerous possession, neither a total possession, since the Shaman Priestess spontaneously opens the doors of her mind to the animal of power and maintains her clear conscience towards what she does.
It is very important and at the same time very difficult, since it is only a matter of initially imitating the animals, but then the door of oneself must be opened to the spiritual essence of the animal itself: the knowing essence of the secrets of the animals, full of instinct and divine vibration.
The interaction between Woman-Shaman and Spirit-Animal through the imitation of the animal’s physical movements is truly an important and magical experience. Feeling the spirit of the animal inside is a strong experience, a powerful energy exchange that only a Shaman Priestess is able to face; it is a very profound way of interacting with the animals, having relationship with them. This technique allows us to vibrate in synch with latent, or denied, instincts. It is a technique that strengthens the spirit and the mind, allows us to merge with the free and wild being, which can bring us back to the dawn of out lineage, where everything has started and where nothing can be separated in the sufferance and detachment.

The Shamanic Journey

To truly seek yourself, stand up and walk…
The shamanic journey is the first test that an apprentice must undergo on his/her journey in the body of Mother Earth. There are numerous works that offer guided visualisations for this purpose, each shaman has his/her own, handed down from master to student, received in a dream etc.
The shamanic journey is not, in fact, a simple technique, the body is conducted beyond its limits and resistances, but without the use of any type of psychotropic substance.
The true shamanic journey, experienced by me, does not happen in the mind. It is not a visualisation. It is done in Nature, in close contact with the elemental forces in the Belly of Mother Earth.
The body of the shaman is put to the hard test of initiation: loneliness, abandonment, fasting, cold, hunting, fighting, night defence, freezing baths. To obtain a prophecy we undergo heat sessions such as the ancient Pythonesses  of the Temple of Apollo, in Greece, on the Delphic tripod. All this stimulates vision, clairvoyance and foresight, gifts of the mind and purification of the body, and does not necessarily and absolutely imply taking drugs. Indeed, precisely the absence of drugs, allows the Shaman Priestess herself to find and maintain control of the vision, to consciously interact in the world of Spirits and create a reflection in the world of Forms.

The Worlds

Everything that surrounds us is part of our Being, nature responds to what we are internally…

Inferior World THE CAVE: this is where the allied animal spirits meet. The Shamanic practice is purely personal. Shamans never talk about their allies in the spirit world, and not only because it weakens their power. The best thing would be to ask the animals or Spirit guides themselves if they want their presence to be revealed or not.
When the Shaman Priestess begins her descent into the lower world, she must physically head into caves, tunnels, ice caves, deserts, mountains, forests. Who practices shamanism, must know not only what lives in the world of ideas, in the mental world, but also and above all, what is found in the inner world. Below us, in our womb, lies the dark world linked to strong emotions and feelings. When you descend into the dark, passing through several tunnels, you also travel the path towards the unconscious, toward the unexplored parts of the personality. It is an important and necessary step, to learn to recognise sensations, to know how to discern non-ordinary reality from mental dream.

Middle World WATER: after the two physical worlds the body and mind of the Shaman Priestess open to the vision of the middle world. The middle world is a world very similar to ours, in which the Spirits of all those who live there meet. It is a fantastic way to communicate with plants, elemental beings, objects, people who live far away and above all to communicate with Nature.
This world allows you to meet the Mood, to explore her, to talk to her and to ask her to teach us to better understand our own cycles, our tides etc. It belongs to our terrestrial time, contrary to the other two. To find access, you have to go down to the lower world and ask the spirit-animals to accompany on the journey upwards. It is a complex world because inhabited by a crowd of lost spirits and souls, who perhaps do not even know why they died. It is never recommended to get in touch with them. Only an experienced psychopump, who guides the souls of the dead in the underworld, can interact and help. The realm of the dead is a dangerous realm for us, and if you are not a trained psychopump or you are inexperienced, you would drag with you into our world some wandering souls, souls who would generate great material difficulties and serious health problems. On the other hand it is very easy and interesting to find fairy beings fairies, elves and other elemental beings.

The Upper World THE HIGH MOUNTAIN: so beautiful that it takes your breath away… even just for a walk. The upper world is the world from which our souls originate, this contact can lead to getting lost forever because the world of high vibrations is full welcoming entities and often you may not want to return to human frequencies. Then when the Shaman Priestess will go to the Upper World, she will be so prepared for the management of her emotions, she will already have experiences on which to base herself. In the midst of the stars, among the clouds and the Gods, joy can be given to the heart. In this case, you go up to the high mountains and sleep outdoor near the stars.

Italian Medicine Wheel

Surround me with Light and Love and bring me where truth reigns… teach me to know the body.
Every way has been run across the children of Mother Earth, around and inside her maternal baby bump, here we have known the first circle, Container and Mystery Egg of Life, Regeneration and Rebirth. For Italian culture, the Medicine Wheel is the sacred place where we operate, it is not physically traced in predefined places, but travels with us, in our mind, in our heart and we take it everywhere to bless Mother Earth, our actions and our Sacred Rituals with immense Joy.
The Sacred circle where the following live: the North, the South, the East, the West.

THE NORTH EARTH: it brings the cold winds of winter, which purify the earth with their intensity and oblige everyone to spend part of their time doing nothing but warming up, lying down and renewing themselves.

THE EAST AIR: sends the warm winds of spring that dry out, torment and force you to open up to the illumination and wisdom, which are the gifts proper to this season.

THE SOUTH FIRE: brings the hot summer winds that open us up completely to growth, maturation, warmth and future fruits.

THE WEST WATER: it brings along the cold autumn breeze which invite us to gently return inside of ourselves, at the same time find additional resources, our inner strengths and weaknesses.

Best,
Michela Chiarelli 

 

 

 

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Shamanism in Italy: yes or no?

I write this article because for a while on social media and on the internet the Italian Shamanic tradition is being analysed and I want to answer to those who assert with such vehemence that in Italy Shamanism and the figure of a Shaman of hereditary tradition, therefore I, do not exist because of the Catholic presence.

It is not easy to define what Shamanism is and it is not certain that you will agree with the definition I will try to give below.

Shamanism is not a precise subject and there will be anomalies in what I write – but I hope to give at least a general idea, except for the exceptions.

The word “Shaman” is a Western transposition of the word samaan or s’amanthe, originating from the Evenchi Siberian people (formerly known as the Tungus population), and was imported into the Russian language by the first explorers of Siberia.

The word was gradually accepted in Russia and Europe as a general term to refer to a native Siberian, African or South American healer, but the holy Spanish inquisition attacked our ancestors. The term “witch”, or “bruxja” or “bruja” was then exported by anthropologists to the rest of the world in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, leaving the world to believe that Shamanism in Europe and in Italy was dead.

Naturally, our healers hid their knowledge from the masses and transformed ancient rites in techniques of use and folk costume by Catholicizing them: although in a different way from north to south, they followed modern evolution, started attending schools, having running water and exercising certain late rights such as the right to vote, to study and to work. In step with the changing times, the Italian woman left her dresses and skirts to wear blue jeans and accepted the pressure cooker instead of the “cassarola e cucchiara …”

Unfortunately, today the world of spirituality has become a source of pride rather than a service to others: if you don’t have a recognition that you buy yourself in paid courses you are nobody, and the know-it-all tell you that in Italy Shamanism does not exist.

So let’s make some clarity. Shamanism is a set of traditions that come from the native peoples of the whole world, from every continent of the globe.

Even in Italy, before the great known civilizations, native peoples were present and lived in close contact with the earth, in full respect of the biological rhythms of every living being. When we hear about Shamanism, popular belief brings thought to strange practices, which call to mind extravagant figures and sorcerers who practice magic.


In reality, Shamanism and the figure of the Shaman are a return to ancient traditions, in which the human being is placed at the center, with the aim of regaining his balance in full respect of nature around.

The human being is an integral part of Nature, it cannot exist outside of it. This is a concept that has been lost over time and has caused many problems to our health, the ability to relate to the world around us and with our authentic needs.

For a Shaman or Medicine Woman, the term Medicine has nothing to do with a drug or a substance, and the Shaman herself never opposes the use of universally recognized allopathic therapies, (also because going to school in the West, we recognize the evolution of medicines).

However, a Medicine Woman always remembers that Medicina, in a subtle sense, means power, intent, life force, connection, completeness and integrity. Medicine is seeing the connection between all beings and all things. Medicine is rediscovering the depth of oneself, rediscovering the space of the divine and the sacred immortal within us.

Everyone is a carrier of medicine and can make of his/her life a good medicine, BUT not every individual who attend courses can become a Medicine Woman or Shaman because of the profound meaning of selfless service to others.

Medicine is the energy that extends in lovingness towards each other.

Medicine is everything that supports the human being, everything that heals the body, mind and spirit: Medicine is the WILL to SERVE.

Speaking of Italian Shamanism we must extend the concept to syncretism. Italian Shamanism is a natural condition of being, a magical, graceful, confident and harmonious way of facing life. His/her reality is alive in everyday life, a dimension in which he/she works to train women and men to be aware of their own Self.

Italian Shamanism is inserted into the flow of spirituality of the ancient religions of the earth.

From a technical point of view, it has mixed origins and has evolved over the centuries, preserving its specific identity with respect to the other Shamanic ways.

Starting from Ancestors of various ethnicities, my family has preserved the Knowledge of the Laws of Healing and Energetic Rebalance of the Mother Goddess, mother Earth, Mother Nature and transmitted them to women from generation to generation.

In our time I am the last heir of this ancient generation of women, a Medicine Woman of Italian hereditary tradition and custodian of tradition.

The term syncretism means the encounter between different cultures that generates mixtures, interactions and fusions between heterogeneous cultural elements. The field in which this concept is most widely applied is the religious one and the history of religions with the anthropology of religious systems are the disciplines most attentive to these cultural phenomena.

The term Shamanism indicates, in the history of religions, in cultural anthropology and in ethnology, a set of beliefs, religious practices, magic-rituals, ecstatic and ethnomedical techniques found in various cultures and traditions.

A Shaman is a person who is recognized having thaumaturgical and divinatory faculty, considered an intermediary between men and the world of heavenly spirits and the world of Nature.

I was initiated by tradition, synchronously, to the cultural ethnic techniques of the Italian territory.

Between the serious and the funny, the television and cinematographic information has carved in our mind a granitic stereotype of the Shaman: man – 90% is male – who carries out his job half-naked, showing off tattoos and epidermic paintings, belonging to remote indigenous tribes who knows where.

In the West the figure of the Shaman has been lost with civilization: as the man has moved away from nature naked, he has returned dressed. In my country we weren’t called Shamans … but rather “vammane” dialectal term synonymous with healer and midwife …

Today the Shamans are people, inserted in our society, who have undertaken paths of discovery and self-knowledge, in close contact with the native peoples who still exist, such as the Americans, Australians or Africans.

The Shaman experimented first on herself, and then brought others the ancient shamanic practices related to physical, emotional and spiritual healing. It’s a person in full connection with his/her own inner self and the surrounding nature.

The Shaman has learned to live in love and in the absence of judgment, focusing on the good of the person as a whole. Ego is put aside and the heart is the only tool to be used in the approach with the other.

What is Shamanism for? Why approach these ancient disciplines?

In today’s world, the tendency is to close in ourselves, communicate through a screen and not find time to devote to the contact with natural elements. We spend less time outdoors than in closed spaces.

The Shaman reconnects us with our primary needs, freeing us from all the conditionings that society sews on us year after year.

Fears, judgment, limits, fears: these are all states of mind that do not allow us to live in full freedom and happiness. Shamanism and shamanic practices help to free oneself, a little at a time, from the limiting conditioning and bring us in connection with nature, with its strength, its energy and its beauty.

It becomes a journey to discover our true Self, which brings balance to our body and our emotions, helping us to live every day as the best gift we can receive.

Browsing around as a philologist, I discovered that among the Mongols, the Burati, the Jakuti, the Altaiani, the Evenchi and the Kyrgyz, the word to designate a “female Shaman” is Udagan with the variants utagan, ubakan, utygan and utugun, which probably come from the Mongolian word Etugen which is the name of the ancient Goddess of the hearth. This also happened to our women called Janare from Jana, Danu, Diana and sometimes two-faced Janus: “the one who saw beyond”.

The Shaman has an animistic view of the world.

An animist believes that all parts of Creation are alive in some way and have a spirit.

Nothing is dead in the universe for the animist: you and I have a soul, and so it is with all animals and plants, rocks and rivers, mountains and clouds, stars, the sun and the moon. Even a disease, a concept, a ceremony or a ritual object have a soul: everything has a soul and we live within a vast network of interconnection.

All animistic and shamanic cultures conceive it.

All shamanic cultures are animistic – but not all animistic cultures are shamanic.

In the early 1980s, a new style of Western shamanism developed – generally known as ‘Core Shamanism’. It developed mainly through the work of Michael Harner.

The core shamanism has taken up the basic modality of shamanism to enter into trance and travel to the worlds of the Spirit, but has stripped it of all cultural aspects, making it more easily accessible to Westerners. The fundamental principle of core shamanism is that anyone can learn to travel and use “shamanic techniques” in their lives to help themselves or others.

This is undoubtedly true and many people take many advantages from learning shamanic techniques. However the rule “to be chosen by spirits” is still applicable. I always think that the spiritual world is a bit like the ocean. All people can explore the surfaces of shamanism; sit on the beach with your toes in the water or paddle where the waves break – in other words almost everyone can learn to make the basic shamanic journey and do something near the shore. Some people will go into the ocean with water to their chest or they will learn to swim a little and they will go deeper.

But only those chosen by the spirits and who carry it in their blood will truly learn to swim and dive, hold their breath underwater and go to the depths of the spiritual world.

By saying this you do not want to be elitist: it is simply the truth.

Paraphrasing great souls, I confidently affirm that only “when the student is ready, the Master appears”.

Shamanism at a certain level of depth can be very dangerous, physically and psychologically: some Shamans die during ceremonies. That’s why I don’t really write anything about everything I know, and I only pass it down to my apprentices or my children.

The books written so far are only very small steps and elementary practices to which I was initiated and approached 37 years ago.

Not all people are bio-spiritually fit to dive deep: only those who have the blessing and help of spirits will learn to push themselves enormously out of their limits, to return to safety – if they are lucky. But everyone can live a rich animistic life and can learn simple shamanic first aid remedies – and I believe the world would be far better if there were more people practicing it.

There are so many people around who are actually implementing a good shamanic practice but there are so many others that unfortunately are doing … “other stuff” and even in good faith! – New Age can be a place so full of fluff that we can drown in it very easily, choking on all that fairy dust.

I often come across people who think that yoga, reiki or some other form of therapy is “Shamanism”.

They are not: at most they can be “animist” practices, but not Shamanism.

In Italy we go down into the quarries or climb high in the mountains; we deprive the body of comfort, attachments and only then do we enter the veils between the worlds, encountering the animal driving in nature: if we survive, this will be a bulwark and strength for us … but if we imagine it only to the sound of a drum and under psychedelics , what will appear will be relative to the context.

Is Shamanism going into nature, sitting in the grove, with your back leaning against a tree, trying to connect and become “one with everything”?

Again, this is not Shamanism either.

Meditation in nature is something to be encouraged: attunement and feeling one’s connection with all one’s “relatives” is something that brings great benefit – but it is not Shamanism.

Shamanism is a work of severe discipline: you meet the spirits, you have real dialogues with them, you negotiate – sometimes submitting or even fighting – for the good of your community.

People in the New Age community often think that Shamans are wonderful people – close to the Spirit – who love everyone and do good deeds all day long.

This is also a myth.

Traditional Shamans often fight and sometimes try to kill each other and steal the other’s power with the help of their spirits. Traditional Shamans often curse as much as they cure and make the practice of other Shamans difficult.

Fortunately, these types of attacks are very rare in Western shamanic communities and among those who practice core shamanism: among them there are only a few people who have such profound and powerful knowledge as to do great damage.

I strongly advise against doing the “obscure work” because one opens oneself to spiritual forces much greater than us, endangering oneself and their loved ones.

You can also lose your connection with any healing spirit you have worked with up to that point.

Shamanism is often associated with taking mind-altering plants. In recent years, tourism to the Amazon has proliferated and people take substances like Ayahuasca, San Pedro, Peyote and various types of mind-altering fungi.

People often seem to think that this is essential when it comes to Shamanism, but let me assure you that it is not.

Most shamanic cultures around the world do not assume any substance that alters the mind – instead they are based on the spirits that possess them, aided by a combination of ceremony, song, dances and musical instruments.

You may feel attracted by following an animist path derived from your ancestors: perhaps you have Celtic or European, African or Central Asian blood and the call of blood is strong.

This of the blood is a wonderful line to explore, but be aware that, if you come from a European culture, traditions have been broken and paths like Wicca or Druids are modern inventions and little correlated to their ancestral ancestors.

Our ancestors did not follow a spiritual path for pleasure or self-improvement: they were linked to their spirituality because they were there to save their lives, to help heal their sick and to help bring crops and animals to their tables: they observed the seasonal cycles and honoured the bad weather, they talked with thunders and unleashed storms, they honoured animals from which they drew nourishment and warmth, they safeguarded knowledge and techniques by dressing them as folk magic to save their lives. To safeguard knowledge they dressed it with Catholic prayers … but they knew that a day would come when everything would be brought to light.

I don’t talk about it on social media, nor on books, but I teach in real life, I choose and teach those I think smart enough to honour an Ancient Tradition.

I am very concrete and simple because I believe that it is very easy to “let yourself go” to the imagination in the West, where we are detached from the natural world and we do not need our ancient methods to survive or be amazed in front of a woman, me, who is simple and marks you for free and prays in an ancient way to help you heal.

In ancient times, if things did not work, people would die: now – with us and for now – it is not so and there is no longer the essential pragmatic point of “spirituality”.

We look for it to bring balance to our urban world, seduced by its novel and enchanted by fantasy, to escape from the monotony of an office. And we do it also because it is “easy” to devote ourselves to spiritual works to justify an unhappy life, to give us a tone and to subdue other people, to humiliate others, to feel superior, to make money by selling shamanic drum constructions, sweat huts and ayahuasca to a people of dazed, insensitive and unfortunately ignorant of the herbs that grow in their own territory.

I do not want to “make a bundle of every herb” and it is up to you to identify the dishonest, but I strongly advise you to remain human, to appreciate nature, to do good, to not judge others without knowing them and to not become so spiritual that you are no longer a land good.

So: is there “Shamanism” in Italy?

In the history of religions, in cultural anthropology and in ethnology, the term shamanism refers to a set of knowledge, beliefs, religious practices, magical-rituals, ecstatic and ethnomedical techniques found in various cultures and traditions, closely connected with Mother Nature, its rhythms and its cycles, handed down orally. For how I lived with my Grandmother, with women close to her and my teachers in the management and domination of the elements, my answer is unequivocally YES.

Michela Chiarelli 

 

 

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Italian Shamanism: an introduction

I’m sure very few of you have heard about Italian Shamanism. I too until 2 years ago believed the Shamans only existed in the Amazon, in Mexico or in Siberia. That’s because they are the ones who’ve been widely studied, recorded and written about.

I have to admit that I rarely speak about these things publicly. Still I sort of fear being taken for a crazy woman, a witch, someone living in the clouds. The word Shamanism evokes images of woods, darkness, a circle around the fire, Ayahuasca, antique chants, wild dances, and … a man. Yes, the Shaman is a man in our collective imagination. The Shaman speaks very little, drinks very little and is probably vegan. He is viewed as the holy man. And everyone who arrives at his feet bows.

No wonder then when I met Michela, the last Italian Shaman of a long family tradition of Shamans, I was confused. She was so…….. real! She was concrete! She lives in the present! She lives a normal life! Dresses like a normal woman! Drinks beer! Smokes cigarettes! She has a normal house (until you walk in ahahahahaha)! Has a husband and two children. She simply lives in the world. She doesn’t seek a refuge in the spirit world up there somewhere (see my hands waving above my head).

We have come to believe today that spirituality has nothing to do with the material world (the world of matter). If you notice, the society is now visibly divided between the spiritual people – who dress up carelessly with loose clothes, don’t wear make up, don’t do their hair, are vegan, do yoga, meditate, speak only about spirit and energy, send love&peace to everyone, refuse emotions such as anger – and the material people – who dress up nicely, wear make up, do their hair, eat whatever especially meat, smoke, drink alcohol, care about their appearance, work in areas considered evil, are attached to the world. You get the point and I’m sure you are now wondering where do you stand? “Oh no but I don’t meditate so I can’t be spiritual, but I am vegan then maybe…” Yes I feel your confusion 🙂 The world likes to divide and label. Though don’t worry, welcome home wonderful human being! 🙂

I want to tell you a bit about myself as I feel that because of the way I look and the job that I do… I should be considered the last person on Earth to be spiritual ahahahahahahaha In fact I always laugh at people’s astonishment when they meet me in person, because …. who they meet is a person 😉
Soo I was brought up in Minsk by my grandparents and I spent all my time between climbing trees and sitting in the kitchen with my grandma. I was naturally in contact with nature. When I moved to live in Italy with my parents, luckily we lived in a town surrounded by forests, mountains and streams… I would spend my time reading books on witchcraft and playing at the stream nearby. The books on witchcraft were books that spoke to me about a deep contact with nature and elements. But especially about creating a deep contact with myself, with my body. They taught me about emotions and how to live with them and use them. OUR BODIES are important! It’s through our bodies that we experience the world. We are biology.
Those who have been called witches were simply women who had a deep contact with themselves and the world (a world that is a plant world since there are more plant species than any other living being). I don’t meditate, I contemplate. I am not vegan, I eat what I feel eating. I drink beer and wine. I am touched by everything, I am moved by the beauty of a flower just like by the rain on my skin or the gentle touch of someone who cares about me. I am attached to this world, to everything that is part of it. And yes I model and I act, I do all that consciously and have fun in changing skin. I enjoy to have my hair done and watch my face change with makeup, I love beautiful clothes and God I LOVE being photographed! I am real.
In the years I had abandoned everything concerning the world of magic and witchcraft – because seriously, I had noone to share all that with and I tried for so long to blend in, to adapt, to live like most people live… but it wasn’t going to last forever, I got called from the inside when it was time to go home – I read almost everything that’s been written on spirituality, on energy, on meditation and so on. Why? To find that something that I once had, but mostly to escape reality when it became unbearable. The funny thing is that the more I escaped reality the more unbearable it became. So go ahead and meditate more and more, do more yoga, eat more “pure foods”, think of energy, let go of your past, live in a bubble of love&peace and blah blah blah. Who hasn’t done that? Welcome to the New Age.

At the right moment arrived Michela (Michela Chiarelli). Thinking about it now, we met right before the most difficult period of my life… to start anew. Meeting her, and through her other magnificent women, gave me lots of hope and courage to be me. To stop fearing of being too much or too little. To stop hiding and instead stand up straight and tall. I got back to my nature, which is complex and deep. Automatically I stopped running away from reality and became very concrete, I may appear to live in the clouds only to someone who’s unable to see.
Italian Shamanism is vast and complex. It’s the antique story of the eternal feminine transmitted orally from mother to daughter. Michela’s job is to help get in touch with yourself so that you become the leader of your life; so that you get back the power with which you were born; so that you become you!
It’s not a weekend course, it’s not that you become a Moon Priestess in a week… It’s really about a way of living. It’s rediscovering the cycles of life-death-life and live in accordance. Nothing is static in nature, and everything is in equilibrium… there is equilibrium only in being present. To live today. To live breathing the air fully! To live with the fire always on inside! To live adapting ourselves to the events (when these cannot be changed)! To live with our feet touching the ground! … This is Italian Shamanism, learn to be an active participant in the beautiful dance that life is.

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