All posts by dedybear

Ancestors

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I frequently hear, “It feels like I am going in circles.” You go around and around, and you get frustrated when you see the same tree in the same space on each trip.  But have you noticed that each time you loop around and you see that tree again, you see a bit more about it, or see you more in the narrow field of view you have? Have you ever noticed that after you have seen that tree every day for months, it is almost as if you feel that tree.  You no longer need to be in front of that tree, to see it, but anywhere in your loop, you hold an awareness of the tree.

When I hear, “It feels like I am going in circles”, my first response is that you should consider how this ‘spiral’ is moving you.  I have posted before how nothing is EPIC, magic can be small.  Magic must be small.  This is a great illustration for me about how I work with ancestors, and some problems I see people encountering. Whether or not you see it, Change is constant.  Even when, like on this path, everything feels like it is a huge and drastic change… It really is a bunch of small changes that you put together at the same time, giving you are larger break-through.

Work with my ancestors has been a story of change.  But one thing remains constant.  And I would hazard a guess that this is true for MOST of you.  The one constant has been that my ancestors have a clear and strong will to support me as a human being.  No matter my beliefs, my actions, my dealings, they are a driving force in my ability to move forward.

I had an instance before where I was communicating with my maternal grandmother, and I got the impression that now that I had enough strength to carry on forward, she wanted to step back from aiding me.  This was crushing to me.  It felt like a withdrawal of support from who I was as a human being.  I instantly felt that she was not able to aid me because my path didn’t follow her faith, and that brought up all sorts of feelings of rejection from my catholic upbringing.  I was hurt, and I didn’t know how to respond.

While mulling over this vat of turmoil, I was listening to my mentor’s podcast (The Jaguar and the Owl). And while he and his co-host were speaking, it hit me like a ton of bricks… (Somehow, I frequently break down my own barriers when listening to them, whether or not the topic is directly related.)

My grandmother didn’t step away because she couldn’t accept my path, it was because I was unable to accept hers.  I realized that to bring her back to my alter, I needed to find a way to get over my bias, and learn from that mistake. I had to learn to not push people away, blaming them for my history.  Not projecting my fear on them. Not projecting my hurt on them.

And I learned.

She has returned to my alter, and we have had some wonderful conversations.  In fact, I now have a rosary on my alter, and a crucifix in my Misa. But it brings a very interesting point in regards to your alter.  Who is there to speak with you.  How do they treat you? And step back, and ask yourself honestly, if you had no history with them, if you were listening to them with no suggestion in your mind as to what their intentions are.  What would they be saying?

It could take, “How is your health?” from being a lifelong agony of your family pestering you about your weight, simply being carried into their afterlife, to being, You do not feel like yourself, is there something I can do to help you?

It is amazing how hard it is to hear what is said, and not what we listened for.

Go back to your alter.  Just another loop on your circle.  Speak, and Listen.  Really listen.  What do you hear. They are giving you a chance to grow, and hear who the new, and changed, you is in this moment.  Are you offering the same courtesy?

What do you see on this lap?  How has it changed?  When do you start seeing that your circle IS a spiral?

There are, of course, ancestors who really would still carry their old bad attitudes and prejudices with them. If you cannot hear anything but a negative from them that is not helpful to you.  Pick one or two ancestors.  Two leaders of your family, and ask them to help you.  Let them help to smooth the edges on ancestors that do not understand the truth and reality of now.  And know that you are willing to hear them… When it is not disruptive to you.

I find that this leads to an amazing set of relationships, where you can find joy, and not be weight down by old baggage.

Shamanism, is about forming, and holding relationships.

Next Steps

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Relationships are the core of the existence of a Shaman. The relationships you build to create the community within which you live and work. The relationships you build with spirit to allow work to happen in all places.  The relationships you build the with trees, and plants, and animals to assure you are offering properly for each energy’s needs. These are all pieces of the whole.  And each relationship is important.

But how do you deal with changing relationships.  When I completed the West work, I had a strong feeling that I would have to sever some important relationships to me to proceed forward.  And this is a thought that terrified me.  I value all of the relationships I have so much that I would be crushed to lose them.  But I have trusted, and kept moving forward.  Kept following my path, kept doing the work…

About 2 months ago, I got the strong impression that I needed to finish my current learning phase and complete this round of education with my mentor post-haste.  (Note, that is just this round, I intend on continuing on with my mentor for a while longer) So I prompted my Allyu to see if anyone else was willing to push forward with me to complete our North and our East work this year.  And the answers were muddled, but the overall feeling is that everyone agreed it should happen.  I also got the strong impression that I needed to go back and read, in detail, information about my Khuya.  The information I wrote when I first made them.  Almost like an Inventory of them and their history.  And I then realized the change that had occurred.  The relationships that had been severed.

My Khuya were not the same.  They had grown so much as to not even be themselves. I was momentarily struck with fear due to the loss of these spirits that I have such a tight bond with. And almost instantly, they started reconnecting with me.  Their energy is drastically different.  Their personalities have grown more bold.

My existing Khuya have moved into a new state. And they are so excited to move forward.

This weekend, Myself, and 1 other member from my Allyu will be stepping into our North Work.

Caution

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One thing that I find troubling about worship is the amount of effort it takes.

While I am aware the effort is part of the point, I often feel that taking that first step, putting that initial effort forward, is like an opening gambit in chess. It is requesting a relationship that you then need to maintain. That is where the hesitation comes in.

This train of thought really gets me thinking about the relationships I have now, and how hard it seems to be to maintain them. How my efforts seem to be never enough. (Insert several more expressions for anxiety here)

But when it comes down to it, so many of the things with which I work, exist as a consciousness because they have been believed in. So the fact that I even fret about not offering enough to maintain a “proper” relationship, is in fact, worship onto itself…

I am quite excited at this realization. But that got me thinking deeper… What Spirits/Gods am I worshipping that I have not acknowledged? How many hours a day do I spend worrying about the dishes or a confrontation at work? Ever notice how the more you worry about something, the bigger it seems to get?

Also, how many hours do I spend on my computer, my phone, Facebook, Instagram? It made me see that putting an Apple Logo on my God Alter might not go amiss…

By having a subscription to Amazon Prime, am I increasing the energetic power of the spirit created through the worship? All of the sudden, my ideas of social justice give me some clear boundaries on where and with what I worship. It brings much more meaning to “Every dollar is a vote.”

What do you worship that you aren’t yet aware of?

Introspection

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Magic is one of the most amazing things in the worlds.  As a shaman, I find that I am constantly working within the arena of magic, but as is ‘par for the course’ most people neither see, nor understand what magic is.

When I try to explain, people are dumbfounded at how tangible magic can be for everyone.  I would like you to acknowledge now that the words “Hocus Pocus”* and “Abra Cadabra”** (themselves) have nothing to do with magic.  Magic can be most strongly manipulated by changing yourself, and affecting the world around you.

For example: Today, I made a comment about an interaction with someone.  I later realized that I would be mortified if the person involved had heard it.  It would only make them feel bad about a situation they could not control, and perpetuated a larger and darker feeling that they must be holding because of that same situation.  I realized that this statement was not about them, it was about me. (This is something I often do: When I have a hard feeling about someone or some action, it is a response to something in myself I find lacking.)  The comment was about someone monopolizing a conversation. So, I asked myself, what about myself is true, that makes me put that on them.  And I realized that I have concern and issues about longing for a connection with another person that is often hard to make tangible.  Acknowledging that the action that caused me to make my comment, really was an emotion within myself that derived from my own self consciousness about connection to others.

Think about that… By acknowledging something that I felt bad about, thinking about what it means to me, around something I can control. I was able to tell myself about a shadow that I carry, that affects making connections with people.  It is a concern, that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

But being brave enough, to be introspective, and acknowledging that I can do work on myself, I have changed my own perspective of the world around me, and allowed myself to improve the connections around me.  I am doing something intangible to others, that drastically changes the world around me.  Introspection is a form of Magic.

Hocus Pocus*: Before the protestant reformation, there was a lot of mystery around the priests work of the Catholic faith. There were inner buildings within churches, and basically, your rank within the church would dictate how far into these buildings you could go. (AKA the highest level priest would be the only one to go into the inner most building. ~ I learned this in a world religion class at EMU.~ Some of the more peasants would try to listen into these buildings so they could recreate the magic of the priests. And from a distance and through a wall, they interpreted, Habeas corpus  (Latin for “you [shall] have the body”) to be Hocus Pocus.

Abracadabra**: This was actually a phrase that is first documented as part of a amulet prescribed by a doctor (or what was equivalent to a doctor of the time) to get rid of any diseases.  The triangular amulet looked like this:

Abracadabra

Connections

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If we look at some basic principles of Qi in Chinese Medicine, you see that the Qi (or energy) that makes the core of you, is a knot of all sorts of energy cords that come from many other places.  It is like you are the central hub and a definition of the crossing points of all of the different energies that make you, you. Basically, you are made of a giant intermingling of energetic cords.

Now, if we take that idea forward, and think about our interactions, to have an interaction with someone, you are actually taking an energetic cord, and trying to energetically make a connection to them.  This can be a positive thing, and it can go bad.  But that is a story for another time.  I have noticed for a very long time that I will see someone, and I feel connected to them.  The only word I have for it is attracted to them.  And I feel that this is where our language breaks down.

When I say attraction, I am not meaning sexual attraction.  No matter what that person looks like, nor how I perceive and judge that appearance, this attraction has nothing to do with it.  It is almost as if I can sense an aspect of who that person is.  An aspect of their essence. And from that brief glimpse of who they are, I feel as if I know something about them, and that something seems to override any visual representation that I take in with my eyes.

This is something that I would like clarity on.  And I would like to offer clarity in a place where neither our language, nor our culture is very clear.

There are several people I have met, mostly women, but also some men, transgender, pangender folks as well.  And it took me a long time to figure out that this wasn’t a physical attraction.  I am seeing that they are a person with whom I could connect.  And when I can trust that connection, without judging it, I can find a soul with whom I can connect.

For example, my family and I were visiting some family-friends in London, England.  We were having dinner, and we very briefly saw one of our friends that had simply been unavailable each time we had been there in the past.  And when I saw her, I instantly felt that connection. This was initially confusing for me.  She is a strong, intelligent and kind woman, and that is the sum of everything I would find attractive in a woman.  But it was so clear to me that the attraction I felt was not about romance.  The longer I thought on this, the idea came to mind, “Best Friend”.  And that was actually a defining moment for me.  I realized that this confusing pull that I have had, that seems to transcend people’s physical appearances, was an energetic connection giving me a clue about the people with whom I could be close to.  To be able to trust, and be 100% authentic with. This was a feeling I was having that talked to people I could trust and truly find friendship in.

Our language supports very few kinds of relationships without paragraphs of explanation. Friend, Romantic, Enemy, None.

If we can look beyond this, we can see all of the various relationships here are: (Like my post about love)

The relationship with your dog.
The relationship with a respected peer.
The relationship with a well spoken professor.
The relationship with your son’s friend.
The relationship with your favorite Oak Tree
The overarching complicated relationship with your extended family.

There are so many I could list that are boldly different, and remarkably and subtly different from the above.

I often mock the creation of new words that can come out of modern culture, but I cannot dis-acknowledge the benefits of words like “Frenemy”.  My kids use this all that time.  And it is a single word that actually takes a very complicated relationship where you are mostly friends, but there is some competition between you, and you regularly have spats that seem quite mean, but when it comes down to it, you would defend that person as a friend….  This single word articulates a complicate relationship.

While we may not yet have the vernacular to describe the complexity of the 90 thousand potential relationships, we can start to acknowledge them.  We can acknowledge, and even converse about the nuances of relationships, and how they are not always a relationship that must be Romantic if you are nice to each other but it is not quite friends.

By acknowledging these, we can start being clear with our intentions about those energy cords we send out in making connections with people.

It can become clear, and perhaps society can see, that if I, as a male, and teaching a female something, does not mean that there is romance even as an idea in the conversation.

Relationships can become more clear when we are transparent from the beginning that our intentions are to be a strong friendship, in a way that is NOT romantic.  And if at some point, those intentions change, be honest about that too.

When we are talking about how to connect better with others, let us start, by being clear with ourselves.

Shadows

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There are so many aspects of myself that I have spent years finding new ways to look around and avoid.  What I have learned so far on this path, can really be summed up to a single act.

Find, acknowledge, accept your own shadows.

What is a shadow?  The definitions are slightly varied here or there, but the core of it is this: A shadow is any aspect of yourself that you avoid.

Need examples?  Some of my shadows I have found are these…

  1. My cruelty
  2. My Ego
  3. My hatred
  4. My anger
  5. My Recklessness

These are aspects of myself that I had avoided for years.  And after spending some really difficult time sitting with those feelings, learning to accept them as part of me, and moving forward, I feel something important has shifted.  My understanding.

I have always run away from the aspect of myself that was cruelty.

But I realized that Cruelty is only one end of that spectrum  The other end is Generosity. And many problems in my life have fallen into line, by simply accepting the balance that swings between Generosity and Cruelty.  Remember, only acknowledging one of the two, leaves you without balance, and out of control.  Accepting the aspect that my value judgements dislike, I have found that the skill I have that makes me so efficient with my cruelty (my tongue, and ability to say exactly the right words to hurt someone) is actually a skill that is equally as strong with Generosity.  I learned that I also have the ability to say exactly the right words that someone needs to hear, to allow themselves to heal.

I have so many shadows. The 5 above are simply the ones that are the loudest, and somewhat more simple to deal with for it.  But there are so many other shadows that overshadow aspects of our lives.  And some are far more profound than others.

This past weekend, I did some hard extremely hard work, and encountered a shadow that I didn’t realize I was holding onto.  When I was 16, I moved out of my parents house.  And there was a physical altercation that was the trigger point for me leaving. The physical altercation did not actually cause this shadow.  It was the fact that while I was ‘facing-off’ with my step-father, my mom was standing over his shoulder, not doing anything.  I completely accept that she was probably terrified.  But that moment, told me that she didn’t care enough about me or my safety, to overcome her fear.  I realized that it put her in almost a paradox, where every direction she felt like she failed.  I left home, because of that.

It didn’t end there though. This past weekend, I re-encountered this experience, again.  This is not the first time I have looked at this shadow, and found a new dark spot.  I felt that deep sadness. It sat right over my heard Chakra, and was a black-hole density of sadness.  I let myself go into that feeling to work through the problem and I cannot tell you the challenge it held for me.  But I came through it.  And I saw things much more clearly.  I saw that I have the ability to cut my caring almost as clean as with a blade.  Just like I felt from my mother that day.  I found that I fear that my kids will one day see that I didn’t care, so I model myself after this “ideal” i have where my efforts can be so forced as to feel in-genuine.  That made me feel sick.  This insidious shadow snuck into the core of who I am, and could have possibly ruined my goal of having my kids remember our time together as happy, and knowing that we could be authentic and true with each other.  Realizing what that one shadow, thatI didn’t even realize I still carried, had such a profound affect on who I currently am.  And how holding on to that memory was such a strong item causing self-sabotage made me realize that I need to look so much deeper to clear the stigma of my shadow self, accept me for me, without the burden of those stigmas, and to grow.

I feel so much lighter, and I feel so ready for the challenge.

Calling

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This path is not easy.  I have gone through an unbelievable amount of work, growth, and change since that day I came out of my “Shaman Sickness.”  There have been physical issues, mental issues, energetic issues, and I think worst of all, interpersonal issues.  I have had to dissect many aspects of myself and be very honest about who I am, which is not always easy.

But I knew my path.  And it doesn’t actually matter what it takes to get there, I know that “there” is where I will be, so I press on.  Recently, I have found that the efforts I spend to work with, and assist people, have been the most empowering efforts I could be doing.  I feel as if I am more whole for offering cleansings and guidance.

I am told that I am starting to fulfill my role.  I am a Torchbearer.  For those who have questions, and have lost their way, I can guide them through the chaos and hardships to the door that leads them to their path.  And each time this effort becomes a reality, I feel like all is right with the world. I feel like I am doing right, and my calling is fulfilling me.

Sometimes it is important to see that the right path is rarely the easy path, but taking on that challenge has some remarkably clear, and tangible benefits.

I am helping people, and I feel good.

Long season after the West Work…

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As we go through the process of learning to be Shamans along the lineage of Peru, we do workshop type weekends to concentrate on different aspects of teachings in the honor of the four directions. We start with South, where we learn about self healing. In the West Work, we learn to confront our own death, and how to work with our own shadows.  I believe that I have explained shadow work on this blog before, and I will go into the confrontation of your own death later.  But what I would like to share today is that I am continuing to learn more about myself on this path, than I had ever imagined.  I am, of course, learning about Shamanism, but much of that comes from understanding myself.  Physically, emotionally, and energetically.  The more work I do, the more I realize that Shamanism can be more psychology than energy.  (But works all the better for being both)

I am learning more about the path I am on, as well as what my path is.  I have known for a while that being a teacher is not the path for me.  I am a healer, I am a Torchbearer.  And while all of the work I have been doing, seemed much like the work of a priest, Hecate kept telling me clearly that I am not a Priest. This is something I have given a lot of thought to.  I feel like this is the work of a Priest, but I am no Priest.  What is it that I am doing as a Torchbearer?

This past week, I had the chance to have dinner with a couple of friends, and as I was discussing this question with Sarenth, He was quick to understand my concern and tell me the thing I didn’t see.

And if I may summarize what he had to say,
A Priest works with a deity or deities, but they are working more closely with the divine, and allowing people to learn from them.
A Minister, is someone that works with a deity or deities, but they take the information from the deit(ies) and teach it to the people.

It comes down to which way the persons energy is facing when they are working to communicate between the divine and the people.

As he was explaining this, I felt that it was truth.  Or at least the truth I needed.  My job is to hear the divine and communicate that to the people.  I am to be facing the people.

Almost simultaneously after Samhain, I understood the benefit I gain from offering and giving aid.  It feels right, and it is what I am to do.  And this while I felt that the West Work was over.  I feel like I have leveled up again, and I am happily sitting in the place of peace, before I start on the next set of work.

It seems that the work that is worth doing, is of the most challenging, yet the most fulfilling once you succeed.

Perspective

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My morning walks used to be based on an excitement to get out and do something.  An opportunity to break my habits and really start getting into the shape I would like to be in.  But when it came down to it, it was work.  It was dark, and hot (at least once I started moving), and it required me to wake up an hour and a half early.

My company began a program for the employees to compete against one-another to see who could walk the most in a month.  I was doing fine, I had already been walking a lot, but I noticed that in the competition, I would gain extra points for my team, by uploading photos.  So, I made it a point to take a photo when I would walk, to upload for the competition.

Now I noticed that when I was on my morning walk, it was no longer just 5 miles to trudge through, it was 5 miles of opportunity for that beautiful and perfect image to show what this unique and individual walk had been.  And it changed my perspective forever.

We often see different lights on the same item and perceive it very differently.  In the wake of the West Work initiation in my shamanic teachings, I was charged with facing my own shadow.  And what this means, is that you look deep into every part of yourself that you have always put effort into looking away from.

I saw anger, cruelty, ego, self-loathing. I saw every bit of who I have not wanted to be, and I saw him not as other, but started to see him as the other aspects of me.

Looking into the worst parts of you can trigger some really bad thought processes.

After a couple of years of being overly burdened by responsibilities, and feeling the weight of them even after extrication, after hardships in the community that I have built much trust upon, after stress within my job, and after challenges within my family, I feel that my shadows, put me over the edge.

Severe Depression.

Being in a place where you acknowledge the sound of a lie, but you can hardly even refute it, because you are aware, and no longer trust your own judgment. I have been in a very dark place lately.  I don’t need to bore you with the hard details, but I will simply say, that I now understand enough about depression to know that I have never given it as much credit as it deserves.  When your own mind breaks trust with you to shut you down, it is a place that I cannot believe how many people survive.

But I have survived.  I found a morsel of truth amongst the darkness and chaos. I was aware that it was hard, but I was so busy trying to do all the things, that I never slowed enough to really see it.  And after I was almost hit by a car, and thought, “Well, that would have been easier.” I realized I needed to speak to someone. But even there was a downward spiral.  Every friend I thought I could confide in, my own mind would cut me off to tell me about how the friendship wasn’t solid enough for this type of burden…  Isolating me, from one friend at a time. But when I thought about my wife, and the comment about adding to her burden came to mind….

The words of my Rabbi came to mind; “You may always come to me with whatever burdens you carry. I am very good at compartmentalizing. And hearing your burden allows us to be closer.”

That was when I recognized the lie.  If I thought I couldn’t speak to my wife, or my Allyu, or my Rabbi with something like this, then I was lying to myself.  I instantly reached out for help from my therapist. And I called my wife to let her know.  And I have been seeking help.  As of now, I am starting to really be in a better place.  But I understand now.

One of the things that I understand is that my faith in my relationship with a few people is so strong, not even my own mind can trick me into disbelieving it.  But one thing I am beginning to understand is that depression has been taking from me for a long time.  When I look back at the last few years, I see the perspective I had at the time, and the perspective the situation probably warranted. And I see the difference between my long, hot, sweaty, and obligatory walk, and the one where I am looking for that perfect moment.  Things aren’t as hard now. I fear I needed to understand the darker perspective, to appreciate the lighter one.

How do you feel so comfortable calling yourself a ‘Shaman’?

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This is a question that was asked of me by someone from within my Ayllu. This has posed an interesting question for me. Why do I feel so comfortable using the term shaman, when describing myself?

Actually, the fact is, I am not comfortable using the term shaman for myself. When I label myself as a shaman, I am doing so as much to convince myself as anyone else. But the question, “Am I a shaman?” This is something I ask myself frequently. And it keeps coming to the same. Yes, I am a shaman.  Most of the time, I feel no need, at all, to explain myself to anyone.  But in this instance, I will do so, but I think that we need to talk a bit about the dynamics of an Allyu.  It is kind of like a wolf pack.  Within this pack, you honor each other, and recognize that there is no malicious intent. This question was honestly asked, and she wanted to know. After all, I have not even completed the shamanic training for the four directions…

The long and the short of it: before I met my mentor, over 2 years ago, I had been told that I am a shaman.

The ways that I know to gauge a shaman are as follows:

Someone labels you a shaman
You actively assist your community
You actively assist individuals within your community
You interact with the local deities
You have training by spirit or by a mentor

Well, here is the crux of it.  All of the above are true.  As mentioned before, even before I found my mentor, I was named a Shaman. For almost 2 years, I have been doing work to assist my local congregation grow forward under very difficult circumstances, and almost all of this work was done while maintaining good relationships with individuals within the congregation.  Individual healings, individual work, group work, group healings, and much work on behalf of the building and land around the building to ensure prosperity. I have done a fair amount work and learning from the local spirits/deities, and I have been working with my mentor and spirit, very seriously to learn all that I can about this path, my skill set, and the tools I have available to me.

But after all of that explanation, I don’t actually care if anyone agrees with me, or feels that it is a title I should have. I actually do not want the job of a Shaman.  But I have been chosen for this path, so I will make the best of it. There is a lot of work to do within this community, as well as the greater community that I can access from my computer. And while I see this work, and feel like I can do something about it, I will.  I would also note that the questions I have been asked, and asked of myself in regards to labels, and egos, all come to the same thing.  The term Shaman is not a badge that you earn, and wear for the rest of your life.  Shamanism is a job, and you are only a shaman, while you continue to do that job. No matter whether or not I am labeled a shaman properly in everyone’s eyes or no, I will continue working with spirit, and with my mentor, and I will continue to grow as far as I can within this lifetime.

This brings up a bigger question though. Why do I feel so confident in self-labeling, when there are two females within my Ayllu, with the same level of training, and different (yet equally as strong) gifts, do not? The member of my Allyu who asked, I could see in her eyes that she didn’t understand how I could call myself a shaman, with the circumstances from her own eyes.  Identifying the privilege I hold for being male. When you are a woman, that is to be heard, you rightfully feel as if your words would be questioned without all the documentation proving you are 100% valid.  (And often despite the documentation)  I, as a male, can walk with my head high, and go with the phrase of “fake it ‘til you make it.”  My confidence is all the documentation I need to illustrate my skills.  I bring this up because I feel that this talks to an extreme problem in our society.  We are still segregating in both bold and subtle ways.  It hurts my soul to watch such a gifted and intelligent woman, afraid to help the world with her gifts, due to a deep seeded acknowledgement that she will be challenged and possibly abused for offering to help.  That a strong woman is so threatening, that she cannot help the people around her without fear of reprisal.

Earlier, I mentioned that I don’t often explain myself, and I realized something.  Taking the time, to listen to the question that was truly asked, I realized that refusing to explain myself, would talk only to the disparity in the privilege I have here.  By opening my mouth and my mind, I can talk through the reasons that she too should be feeling confident in herself. And why she too, should be calling herself a shaman.

Am I a shaman?  It doesn’t actually matter, but I am going to keep doing the work.