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Yazar Interview: Beverley D'Silva. Photograph: Georgie Scott   
02-12-2007
SHAMANISM
Naomi Lewis: shaman                                                                   
Interview: Beverley D'Silva. Photograph: Georgie Scott
Lewis, 35, is a healer, teacher and educational director of the Sacred Trust, which teaches practical shamanism. She lives in Wimborne, Dorset, with Simon Buxton, the trust's founder and director, along with their horses, dog and bees My work really begins around midnight, when I go to sleep. Shamans are aware that life is brief, and the night is precious. My main area is humananimal relationships, and I do a lot of my work in the dream state, so I make sure my environment is conducive to dreaming. My sheets are organic cotton — and I might have a cup of lavender tea.

Then I set myself a focus for the night ahead. I might be looking at what's going on with a species of animal, or particular animal or human client I'm working with for healing. I dream in pictures, smells, sensations, emotions and sometimes blocks of text. When I wake up I don't move a muscle, as that helps to draw together all the vital information told to me during the night. 
 
I get up around 5am. Dusk and dawn, when the veil is very thin, are fantastic times for shamanic work. My day begins with a practice from the Path of Pollen — an ancient tradition of bee shamanism. For about three-quarters of an hour I do the lemniscatic walk; it looks like walking in a figure of eight. When bees come back from foraging, they do this to tell the hive where the best nectar is, and so on. The walk is seen to give one access to infinite knowledge and vitality, and to still the mind. Breakfast begins with the taking of the "golden coins", or pollen, from my own bees. I also have organic fruit and yoghurt. Most of our meals are eaten mindfully and in silence, or with beautiful music on, something classical. 
 
Then I might go out and speak to the animals. That sounds like something from Dr Dolittle but it's more about being in a state of great listening. Shamanism, which predates all other spiritual practices, gave me a language for the experiences I'd had with animals. From the age of six I'd had incredibly vivid dreams, many about animals. And I was happiest horse-riding and hanging out in the deer park in Sevenoaks, where I grew up. I found myself in a natural dialogue with them: horses, giraffes, mice. It would be absurd to suggest it was verbal: we interpret what animals say. But I was getting specific messages about animals' needs. Now this comes into play when I'm seeing animal clients. 
 
It's hard to work healing on an animal unless one works on any human involved too. I had a woman client with a dog who was dying. She'd taken it to every vet, without success. I had a conversation with the dog and he told me she was in an abusive relationship and he found it difficult to deal with. This turned out to be true. The woman left her partner, and within a week the dog was better. 
 
Human clients come to me with anything from a bad knee to serious depression. Healing begins with singing power songs and calling to the spirit. Shamanic journeying — moving from the physical realm into the spiritual one — is vital to get information on a client, which is received by the gods rather than by me. I will play a drum and sing to move into an altered state, and to arrive in a parallel universe outside time and space. It is also the landscape many beings travel to after death; this is well understood by shamans — the teaching spirits we meet there are the enlightened deceased who have transcended the Earth. Typically I journey for 15 minutes. But it can feel as if you've been doing it for a day. It is excellent for your health. 
 
Lunch may be couscous or barley, with vegetables and tofu. I often have a spoonful of honey with bee venom in it. Bee venom can be used to treat many conditions, from arthritis to shingles. 
 
I teach animal-spirit medicine, and students come from all walks: art, medicine, business, the military. I also teach a darkness-visible retreat with Simon, where we put people into the pitch-black for five days. When you turn off the visual stimulation, you start to witness the world with all the senses. Shamans have always gone into the darkness to see. It can bring about ecstatic states. We also teach soul-retrieval. Soul-loss can occur after trauma, such as a car crash or any difficult situation, and can show up as addictions. Some people have lost a power animal — spirits in animal form that protect or guide you — and the practitioner will work on their retrieval. 
 
You never become depleted in this work, but afterwards you want a pool of quiet, so I spend time with the horses. Mendi is a very engaging Spanish horse. Jack, a golden retriever, also lives with us. The word "pet" infers a hierarchy — I see it as a relationship of equality. 
 
Supper might be soup and gnocchi, grains and vegetables with herbs. Our evening work is often ceremonial. Our last ceremony concerned colony collapse disorder. Bees are pivotal to man's survival — 80% of our food is pollinated by the honey bee. But they're being fed on white sugar, and made to work in winter, when the hive should close down. An effect can be the total absence of adult bees. In the US, 6070% of commercial hives are affected. 
 
I couldn't give up the joy of living this way. Being here, you get a real sense of the power of animals. There are foxes, deer, barn owls, adders, buzzards… I fall asleep, being aware of them outside. I am preparing to work, and to dream again. 

(Sn. Dr. Ahmet Çetinbudaklar'dan alınmıştır)

 






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