In this article I explore what Shamanic Energy Medicine means to me as a description of my work and how I have arrived at the term Energy Weaver as an expression of ancient animism in the modern world.
My training is in an ancient Andean living tradition and my process is in bringing it home to the land where I live. How do I describe what I do in my life’s work? I have used several terms over the years to define how I work and for reasons explored below the definitions have morphed as my perceptions have shifted. Especially now that we are looking into the mirror of colonialism and climate change it is even more important that we open to a wider global conversation about issues of cultural appropriation and seek to be sensitive about what we are doing, how and why, and who taught us, and where we are practising. Respect, reciprocity and acknowledgement seem to be key factors in our integrity as humans now more than ever. I did a rigorous Shamanic training many years ago and ever since have described myself as a Shamanic Practitioner and while I still use the tools which I learnt, I am aware that using the word Shamanic can bring up issues to do with cultural appropriation, originating as it does in Siberian tradition. I continue to use the term Shamanic as a descriptive because for now I don’t have another which describes this particular set of tools. I have never referred to myself as a ‘Shaman’ because I deeply respect and have no wish to offend indigenous people who have grown up in a Shamanic culture.
I also trained in Spiritual Healing and while this term is not culturally problematic, the word spiritual can be a distraction for people and can be interpreted in many different ways. I have never referred to myself as a healer as this feels immodest and healing has such a wide range of meaning from lifting a person’s spirits all the way to miraculous healing as performed by Jesus. While miracles can happen, there is no one on earth right now who can heal every time with a single touch as Jesus is said to have done.
Terms which emerge from my local culture are Witch, Priestess, Druid. These are of the land to which I belong and I respectfully relate to them. When I conjure these terms there are cultural historical references which make them specific to this land. They do not capture exactly what I do in my work, however there are fascinating meeting points where cross-fertilisation of ideas can occur. Sometimes a ritual can have similar energetic properties from one path to another but be couched in different language, metaphor and meaning. In the process of attempting to decolonise knowledge, it is a fascinating and necessary enquiry to tease out the similarities and differences between different traditions and to try to appreciate each on their own terms rather than to apply western precepts.
My Q’ero teachers have given me their blessing and permission to call myself a Paqo. This feels like a generous bestowal of privilege and they are very patient in their transmissions of wisdom as we westerners grapple with a different world-view, cosmology and use of language. Nowadays Paqo means Initiate or student of the Andean Path. In Inca times it meant ‘Wearer of the ear-plates’ the Inca Priests wore ear-plates to denote their status. It is an enormous honour to be permitted to use this term to describe myself and I love all my Paqo family, and this certainly underpins how I work, however living here in the Cotswolds I feel I need to find a different term.
Attached to all of the terms I have used so far – Shaman, Spiritual Healer, Witch, Priestess, Druid, Paqo – are distinct cultural filters. I am fascinated by and indebted to all these different paths for what they have taught me, however I feel that I need to adopt a different word to describe what I do.
I resonate with the term Energy Weaver. What kind of person is this? A proposed definition which works for me and which I aspire to is as follows:
‘An Energy Weaver is someone who has studied, practised and researched different types of energy medicine; and transcended them to create her own unique signature. An Energy Weaver integrates different paths with depth and integrity, paying due respect to each lineage; and she acts as a bridge between cultures, between humans and nature.’
Energy Weaver is a term which I use to describe my work as a bridge between cultures; as a bridge between humans and nature; a bridge between the worlds. All that I incorporate into my work has been willingly given by my teachers with the expressed permission for me to pass this onto others in service to earth and community. My principle source of wisdom is Nature and I have learned how to listen to and work with the energies of life through the teachings of my Andean masters. I have spent many hours walking my local lands making pilgrimage and offerings and working out how to creatively harmonise the profound teachings from Q’eros with the Nature Beings and spirits of place where I live. There are also many teachers from other traditions who have inspired and taught me but the underpinning is Andean Animism – in all its cosmic as well as earthly vision - blended with our own deep history and mythology and how it lives here in these lands.
Energy Weaver is a near equivalent, especially as the Nusta – female – Paqos in Q’eros are master weavers and I have a Mestana from Q’eros (pictured above) in which I keep my medicine bundle. Into this cloth is woven much of the traditional symbolism from the Q’echuan culture. The magical content of the medicine bundle was gathered here in the Cotswolds while on pilgrimage following the traditional teachings received directly from the Q’ero Paqos. And here in the Cotswolds there is a very strong tradition of Cotswold sheep’s wool being manufactured (and exported) for a multiplicity of uses including weaving.
Shamanic Energy Weaver – so what does this mean in practise? In my experience it is the act of conducting the flow of living energy in service to all that is under the permission of mother earth and the nature beings. This act brings individuals or groups of people into harmony with the forces of nature. The forces of nature as manifest in daisy, mountain, river, sun, tree, cosmos, wind...As an Energy Weaver I am in service to harmonising energies between and on behalf of individuals, groups, lands, mother earth….I am not ‘doing’ the healing, I am invoking the Nature Beings and encouraging energy to flow freely. When energy flows freely blockages and heaviness are released and this ripples out through space and time.
How does Energy Weaving happen? In my case I have a lot of different tools – Medicine Bundle, Despacho, ‘laying on of hands’, rattle, drum, bell, singing, guided meditation, crystal, eggs, feather, intention, prayer, invocation, pendulum, ritual. I have a lot of allies – Mother Earth, water, sun, wind, moon, stars, cosmos, plants, my local nature beings and spirits of place, animals. Any or all of these will come into a healing session, whether this is for Rites of Passage, individual healing, group ceremony, life transitions, new beginnings, or indeed end of life. Years of training and experience have given me many techniques to help stuck energy to flow again, to harmonise a person’s relationship with their ancestors and heritage, with their culture, the stories they carry within their energy field, their DNA, their relationships. These techniques can include soul retrieval, Animo Wahay (Andean form of soul retrieval), extractions, Hucha Miquy (digestion of heavy energy), Despacho, recapitulation, end of life spiral, guided visualisation, ritual, guided deep connection with mother earth and so on...
When slowed down energy starts to flow freely again people have a renewed sense of soul purpose, soul retrieval leads to wholeness, life-path is invigorated, relationship with nature and mother earth is made conscious. The Weaving of Energies can be very precise with a single-pointed focus, always invoking and calling upon the help of the Nature Beings. As a person sheds heavy energy they can feel reborn in their connection to life in all its myriad forms. As a holder of space for others I have been taught how to call upon aspects of the life-force to help a person back to wholeness. These shifts happen energetically, emotionally, psycho-spiritually, physically. As a person feels more aligned to the web of energies around them they feel stronger, empowered, clearer about their direction. Weaving energies for an individual, a group, a place helps them to feel free of heaviness and in touch with infinite potential...and this brings a deep understanding about personal power in relation to nature; an awakened relationship with the energies of nature.