Shaman Path Intensive 2009
From MaryAnn, artist and re-maker of her life:
This was the second time I had been to the Canyon. For six months prior to my arrival, a battle had raged within me. My inner voice insisted I needed to go again. But something else inside me was against the idea. It wasn’t until a week and a half before I was supposed to leave that I finally decided for sure, yes, I am going. I was baffled by this battle within me. Usually when I make a decision I move forward with it. I finally decided to look for guidance on how to approach this trip and received some simple advice. List my fears concerning the trip and set intensions for my experience while there. I did these things and even though I was still a bit nervous, I felt better and the battle subsided. What I didn’t realize at the time is that the “theme” for this trip was fear. From my first night in the Canyon and over the next several days I had plenty opportunity to face those fears. Some on a daily basis. Some were more difficult than others. Some just fell away while others I still need to work with. Upon my arrival back home there were new ones to face. But now there’s one difference. I know how to step back and look at the fear, talk to myself, calm myself, be kind to myself.
By facing my fears I was able to experience presence and connection to the people and the place and take in the many lessons offered. I feel such joy to know that the intentions I had set were fulfilled and more. My experience in the Canyon was much deeper this time. I came out of the Canyon a different person or perhaps just more myself. I look to the future with anticipation at how this experience will color my world. I thank you all again.
Just as a side note, it was palpable, the pull back to the whirlwind of daily life. However, I am resisting the fast pace as much a possible. That was the first fear upon my return home, losing touch with what I had gained. One of the most wonderful parts of coming back home, besides being with my Honey again, was realizing a stronger connection to this place I call home.
Note from Wolf: Thank you MaryAnne! Thank you for your depth of feeling, willingness to hear, and insistence on making shifts in your life that better honors the spirit that you are. And thanks for the photos of the event pie (yes, the food is notable!) and a departing load of participant gear… with a Resolute owl perched atop.
From Elisabeth, PreSchool Teacher Extraordinaire:
“Thank you for the intense and movement causing experience during the shaman path workshop. It was very inspiring to watch how all of you worked together lovingly, using your own gifts of spirit to orchestrate the weekend. All of you are models for lives of passion and fullness. I felt blessed to witness and partake in it. While the whole experience was extra special, some occurrences stand out more than others for me.
1. As you know, or noticed, I love your book I’m a Medicine Woman, Too! As a teacher AND a child that struggled with “gifts” that were belittled or ignored I recognize the need for such a book that offers joy and appreciation for being who we are. In my class last year, I had a child that talked about her imaginary friends and it frustrated me so much to know that she will be teased instead of recognized for being special.
2. I mentioned already at the closing that it was lovely to see two women (Kiva, and Loba) that embodied a rich femininity and proudness of being women. Thank you to both of you and I love so much how you talked about your belly Loba. That was so sweet.
3. The drumming experience in the canyon really pushed my boundaries because I went through a whole series of emotions from being scared, being very angry, to finally just giving in and flowing with it. Thank you for that sacred experience and your drumming was magnificent, Wolf.
4. The food was really yummy and beautiful. The care, appreciation, and thanks giving shown for food was delightful.
5. Finally, I enjoyed each time any of you “appeared”. You all glow, and the singing, howling, music, (or blending with trees, Wolf) was exciting!
“Thank you all blessings to you from Tucson.”
Note from Wolf: It was moving to see you open up, start sharing more, confront your imagined limitations, and begin to see yourself in a new light. You have many gifts to share not just with the kids you teach, but with everyone you meet. Thank you for coming, and loving.
From Resolute, capable and devoted Animá Apprentice:
“This is my third Shaman’s Intensive — and it was as fresh as the first one I attended. After these years of applying what I have learned, the basics took on a deeper intensity that was inaccessible to me previously. And the new material covered has me delving even deeper into place and power.
“Of particular delight was the afternoon floating in the river to the accompaniment of bee song, coming upon their sweet clover along the bank when I finally opened my eyes. As we returned to the lodge the magic of the bees stayed with me, as all around me the Canyon shimmered as in faery light, a shift in perception which had me seeing the Canyon as if for the first time. And now this shift continues as I practice Animá in the City, a totally possible way of being wholly myself and connected to our Earth and the greater Animá, wherever I am.“
Note from Wolf: Everytime we see you here you are more in your being, more manifest, stronger and less anxious, and in MaryAnn’s photo you can be seen bravely embodying your owlish magnificence like never before. Thank you for sharing about the bliss of the bee experience, and please do write something for this blog about the challenges and fears that made the embrace of the magic so much more powerful and amazing. The story in its entirety is inspirational testament and enchanting to hear.
From Lissa, dream worker and courageous seeker:
“As I sat in a hidden place among the willows next to the river, journaling about the combination of Animá teachings and my dreams, I felt a subtle shift in myself take place, an opening up and settling into myself in a way that wasn’t there before. I am still awed by the memory of the feeling of that shift! As Barbara Kirksey puts it, in her “Hestia: a Background of Psychological Focusing”, I brought my ’soul into a state of dwelling’. Spaciality, in it’s divine aspect, is psychological reality. I finally found my connection to myself and my centeredness: I came home to myself. There, within the sheltering protective walls of the Canyon, I found my boundaries and my foundation.
And I finally ‘got’ how Loba is ‘at home’ in the Canyon, Loba, the strongest archetypal example of a woman at ‘home’ I’ve ever met. I needed to find myself in my own homeness, before I could appreciate hers.
“I did recall dreams almost every night I was there, a definite improvement over times in the past when I couldn’t settle down enough to remember my dreams. They spoke to me about issues I wanted to address while I was there, like my fear of my own mortality. I discovered the connection I hold between sex and death; nightmares about death (which I’ve had since then) still have me gasping and groaning when I wake up, so there’s more work to do! When I can consciously face death, then I will be able to consciously evolve.
“I treasure the notes I took while I was there. They seemed to just flow out of my pen; as I look at them now, I am impressed with the intensity and succinctness of Jesse’s teachings, like ‘inauthenticity is rooted in insecurity’.
“I’ve been to the Canyon often enough now to feel like I’m swimming in familiar waters, while I’m there. I even took in the shamanic drumming under the cliffs with my steady strokes, wildly enjoying the night rhythms…When I get back to Albuquerque, that’s when I realize how deep I’ve gone!
Note from Wolf: Beautiful, Lissa!! And so crucial… The dream and reality must come together, like life and death, not as opposites but as components. That is truly being home, and whole. And your compliments, and your being open to being taught and helped means extra to us knowing what all you have been through in your life, and what you have come through. We are genuinely proud of you, always tickled, often amazed, and determinedly in your service.
Darcey Blue, persistent Animá Student & Longtime Friend of the Canyon
It was a gift I gave myself this July, near the time of my yearly celebration of my birthday, to attend the Shaman’s Path Gathering at the Anima Center. I’ve been returning to the sacred canyon over and over for years, each time taking in more of the beauty, more lessons, and more feeling. But it seems this time was different than any other. I came to the canyon finally free, and more full of myself (as Wolf likes to say) than ever before. Finally empowered to make real changes in my relationships this year, I was free from the worry, concern and distraction of a relationship that was draining my focus and energy to be fully myself. There was a strange lack of resistance to what changes might be wrought in the crucible of the canyon; finally, free to make the changes that insisted on being heard. Feeling open and willing to hear, to feel, and embrace. There is a certain magic about the gatherings in the canyon, that is unique from my many days spent alone in the canyon. There is the deep sharing, the opening to each other in a vulnerable, powerful and special way, and the way we can witness each other in our growth and challenge. Having spent so many years neglecting to write down fears, feelings and challenges, speaking them aloud to a group of held such deep power and strength. And of course, there is the gift of the magical transformation of random foodstuffs into delightful, sensuous meals, shared together, under the song of wind in the cottonwoods.
One of my favorite ways to really ARRIVE and BE PRESENT in the canyon is to get into the water of the beloved river. Something about shucking shoes, and all protection from the wild elements, and flopping face first into the nearest beaver pond is the most delicious and enlivening action I do each day in the canyon. Naturally, it was the first thing I did when I arrived and set down my heavy pack after the long walk in from the cars. And something I did each day, at least 3-4 times, to bring myself back to the here and now, to inhabit my body and relish in the sensations of sun on bare skin, the silky, silty feel of slow water behind a beaver dam, or the chilly flowing water shaded by the alders in the first hours of the day. And what a beautiful sight to see so many of my sisters floating in the water, rubbing themselves with river mud, enjoying and fully being in their beautiful bodies as Loba and I sang a haunting melody to the cliffs.
Wolf has a knack for asking just the right question at the right time, and we had a circle in which he asked each of us, “What was your childhood dream, and how have you or have you not fully lived that dream?” What a poignant question for so many of us, but for me especially powerful, because my first dream as a child was to make song- to sing. Somewhere along the way I lost my voice, in more ways than one, and I abandoned the dream I had as a child to make beautiful songs that touched hearts and souls of people around me. Admitting that I had willfully abandoned that dream, thinking it not “worthwhile”, and had pursued others was difficult and powerful for me. I’ve long been working towards reclaiming my voice- both to sing, and to feel empowered to speak my truth, and Wolf reminded me how very valuable my voice is. He posited the question, “What would the world be without the bird songs?” The croaking of the blue heron overhead, the squawking of the crows, and the melodies of the song birds- all unique, some more melodic than others, but all equally valuable in enriching the world with sound and song. And like a flash of lightening, or the breaking rays of sun at dawn, I felt deep in my heart what my song could be, in addition to an expression of my deepest feelings and desires and unique self, it is a manifestation of the song of creation, that is underlying everything, known by the Celtic term “Oran Mor,” the Great Song. The canyon has a special magic in allowing that song to be heard by those open to it, and I found myself standing on the same rock that overlooked the beaver pond, the cottonwoods and the standing hills climbing towards the peaks of the Gila Mountains, and singing- croaking, wailing, howling, and feeling. And most importantly I gave little thought to who might be listening at that time, which in the past has been a point of contention for me. I am so grateful for the songs that the canyon shares with me, and the gift and lesson of being able to sing my song, and speak my truth, no matter if it sounds a squawk or like the sweetest lilting melody. I am grateful for the ability to feel my strength and my vulnerability, and to begin to feel the inherent value my unique gifts and feelings and songs have for myself and for the world. I am grateful to the canyon for its ability to call me home again and again. I am grateful to the canyon dwellers who consistently offer their guidance and insist on my continued growth and becoming more “full of myself.”
Note from Wolf: How long as it been now, Darcey? You have sometimes slowed, other times lurched ahead on this path of re-becoming, but you have never stopped, nor pretended things were other than what they were, and now you have come so far! Our encouragement of your literal music, is encouragement and even insistence on so much more — that you explore, embody and manifest your true whole self, love that self enough to share it honestly and purposefully with all. The world would indeed be poorer without your intentional, whole-being, multi faceted and full hearted song.
As tuned “instruments” of something beautiful and meaningful, thank you all for the part you “play.”
-Wolf & Family