In my previous post, you read how connecting so heartily to the Quito healing practices in the shapeshift workshops felt like coming home. The emphasis on story resonates with how I saw the world. And to me, fit like a glove with narrative philosophy. Stories are how the world is created. Change the story, change the world. (Um, yes please!) Of course, this instigated a strong urge in my gut to register for the Master Healer and Shapeshifter Apprenticeship also with John Perkins and Llyn Roberts at Omega Institute beginning in October 2010. And I am grateful I did.
The apprenticeship is split into two 7 day intensive teaching blocks six months apart from each other. From the first evening of the first teaching session in October, the intensity of the experience began and it rolled on from there. We learned modern and ancient healing techniques from a few indigenous cultures around the world. This included the Amazon basin, Asian steppe, the Himalayas, sacred Mayalands, deserts of Iran and Egypt, islands of Indonesia, and the high Andes. Also, we studied and connected with the four elements, earth, air, water and fire and the seven directions. (East, South, West and North, up, down and center) We did this by calling their spirits to us and having ‘conversations’ with them. We focused more closely on using plants, eggs, stones, fire, water, candles and smoke. Again, to read the energy of the body and extract any ‘darkness’ and fill with ‘light.’
For me, one highlight of the program was the connection I made with others in the group. Living through intense experiences often pushes people quickly through surface acquaintance-ships having them dive right into rich connection before they can even test the water. It was no different for us. The large class of 30 apprentices (the ‘Tribe’) was split into three ‘Clans’ of ten. In these smaller groups we journeyed together, processed our learning, worked through conflict, supported each other, created a project, and practiced our new skills. After the week of collaborating, joking, fighting, healing, laughing, and working, we were on solid footing (!) to stay connected during our six month winter between the teaching sessions via email and SKYPE. Feeling very close, we sent each other off with good wishes and heart felt love.
Before releasing us to our respective our communities, families and contexts, John and Llyn encouraged us to use the time apart to take what we learned to the next level. John used the metaphor of a karate, saying that the black belt signifies that you have learned the technique. Once one achieves the black belt the more important learning is just beginning. It was now time to connect to the subtleness, the depth and the expansion of that technique. We do this by exploring what it means to each of us. What it means to the world and what it is possible to mean. To go beyond the surface physicality of technique and get to a deeper level where a richer understanding about the essence and nature of the healing is revealed.
We were to practice our shapeshift techniques; engage in rituals of gratitude and intention; keep a journal; go into the rub (allow and stay with any tension that arises) and read about energy healing. And, keep connecting to our spirit helpers and the spirits of the elements to see what more they had to share with us. During the dark winter many of us, myself included, cocooned ourselves inward to do the work. At the same time, we continued the busy lives in our homes and at work. And though it was sometimes hard, sometimes thrilling, much was revealed.
As planned, we arrived back at Omega in April, on Easter Sunday night. This time several members of our tribe were missing, some having chosen other paths and one having passed away two weeks prior. (Still picture your fingers ‘dancing on the keyboard,’ Dr. Bill!) The rest of us were a bit unsure, but our fearless leaders were raring to go, drumming and playing Pachacutito call us together. We sat around the beautifully created altar, felt the welcome breath of fire and settled in.
We shared our personal journeys through the winter. And each story held incredible power and grace to reconnect us as we kicked off another full week of learning, practicing, releasing, arguing, laughing, sharing and celebrating. Also, we spent lots of time in nature and lots of time within our clans burying our worst fears. Then, we proclaimed our newly formed commitments. We traveled to weather patterns to inquire their purpose and ask how we can serve to settle natural disasters.
Each clan picked an institution that we thought needed some change because its current way of being does not serve the world. We meditated on it. In that way, imagined its shapeshift, sent energy to it and thought of action steps we could do to assist in that shift. Each guided meditation powerfully built on the last. And, they brought us deeper understandings of our self, our friends, and the world. Having achieved lots of release and renewal, we ended the program celebrating Love and Oneness in a fire ceremony.
Ready to take the world by storm (literally). We hugged and knew that we’d ‘see’ each other again with a mere whiff of palo santo.