The original connection to the spiritual world.
Instead of seeking out a chic spa, Andrews found her way to a tin-roofed cabin on a desolate prairie in Manitoba, Canada, where she met two crones. As Andrews tells it in two books she has written, the women were Cree Indian shamans, and Andrews, a non-Indian, was about to be initiated into their secret circle.
During the 10 years she apprenticed to Agnes Whistling Elk and Ruby Plenty Chiefs, Andrews noted in an interview, she was torn between the Indians and loyalty to her daughter and film-producer husband.
Eventually, the spiritual quest won out.
‘In Search of Something’
“If it had been a man having this adventure, they (readers and critics) wouldn’t have been so surprised,” Andrews said in a recent interview. “If they had read about a man leaving his family and going to Canada in search of something, they could say: ‘Yeah, I can dig that.’ “Society has been able to accept the idea of women having careers in addition to the role of women as mothers, but we haven’t gone the next step to accept a woman in search of the truth–particularly when the truth is found in a reality a lot of us are not familiar with.”
The reality presented in Andrews’ books, “Medicine Woman” and a sequel, “Flight of the Seventh Moon: The Teachings of the Shields” is not only unfamiliar, it’s supernatural.
The author’s quest began at an art opening in a Los Angeles gallery. A guest at the affair, Andrews fixated on a photograph of an American Indian marriage basket.
Following a lead on the origin of the basket–which, she had decided, she simply must possess–she hopped a plane to Winnipeg, rented a car and drove to the remote cabin of Ruby Plenty Chiefs.
Ruby had been expecting her.
In a welcoming rite, Ruby had Andrews assist in the butchering of a deer. Then the new friends shared a slice of raw deer heart; and the guest was left to sleep squeezed into the back seat of her car, animal blood drying on her Sassoon jeans and new khaki jacket.
This sort of humiliation and wallowing in all matter of dirt is a constant throughout the tale, as Andrews shuttles between Southern California and the Canadian steppes in search of the basket. Magical events are always counter-balanced with believable detail, for instance, when Andrews describes the sleeping bag she covered herself with in the shaman’s cabin: “It was stained with oil and had a blue-and-pink Mickey Mouse flannel lining.”
Andrews nonetheless accepts the fact that some readers will doubt that the story is true. “People just want to know that something is real,” she said. “I felt the same way when I first met Agnes.” (At least a few readers have made truce with the question by accepting Lynn Andrews’ work in the same light as Carlos Castaneda’s–as allegorical truth, at least.)
Andrews eventually becomes embroiled in a tug of war with the menacing sorcerer Red Dog over the marriage basket, which represents female wisdom and the power of creation. As to why a white woman from the city is being dragged into this tussle, Andrews said that “energy changes” have made it necessary to recruit non-Indians into the fight to restore balance on the planet. She writes that her assignment is “to be a bridge in this life between the American Indian culture and white consciousness.”
Earth Is Female
Among the truths that Andrews says Agnes and Ruby have taught her is that the Earth itself is female and that the female principle teaches all people how to live. “If the power of women is negated, as has been in our culture, there is no one left to do the teaching,” Andrews said.
“We live in a patrilineal society that has misunderstood female power. These women (the shamans) feel the earth is in danger of wobbling off and dying (due to nuclear war or other man-made catastrophes) and they feel the reason for this is the imbalance of male and female power.”
Andrews currently spends much of her time applying Agnes Whistling Elk’s principles to the lives of individuals. A number of men–as well as women–have responded to the message in her books, Andrews said. They come to her seeking to restore their personal balance of male and female energies.
“You don’t necessarily have to go to find a medicine woman in Canada,” she counsels those who seek her advice. “Everyone in your life is a teacher.”
She is not the first non-Indian to be enticed by the rich world of Native American culture, but Andrews said she is trying to avoid the mistake made by others–she will not pretend to be an Indian.
She gets around not by pony, but in a Plymouth with a license plate that reads HEYOKA (an Indian word meaning woman-who-knows-how). And she does not intend to take up residence on Cree lands. Home is the same 100-year-old converted hunting lodge in a Beverly Hills canyon where she formerly lived with her family. (She and her husband are divorced and her daughter, also living in Los Angeles, and recently has come to accept her mother’s chosen path, Andrews said.)
“There is this idea that you cannot be spiritual and live a nice life at the same time,” said Andrews, referring to the Beverly Hills digs. “But Buddha was a prince; and the universe is abundant. In some parts of Canada, people would bring me a horse and a blanket in exchange for my work. Here, it just happens to be money.
“I think Beverly Hills is where the healing needs to be done,” she added. “Agnes told me, ‘Your place is not on the Indian reservation.’ “
Spreading the Word
There are things Andrews can do in the city to spread the word of medicine women that Agnes or Ruby could not, Andrews said. They would be lost, for instance, when it comes to dealing with actors and directors. In recent months, the author has been assisting in pre-production work on the film version of “Medicine Woman.”
“I don’t know that there has been a film done until this time about the spiritual transformation of a woman,” Andrews said. Along with the film, a third book in Andrews’ saga, titled “Jaguar Woman,” is due to be released in the summer.
Saying that she shares half the profits from the books with Agnes and Ruby, Andrews denied that she is exploiting Cree secrets. “These truths are not owned by anyone,” she said. “I work only in the ways my native grandmothers ask me to.”
In addition to her counseling, Andrews keeps in touch with Agnes and Ruby and other members of a group known as the Sisterhood of the Shields. A society of shaman women from cultures around the world, they share a desire to apply the concept of balance on a global scale.
It’s difficult to explain exactly how the Sisterhood operates, Andrews said, except to quote Agnes: “It’s not a club. It’s not a sorority; we don’t hold meetings–and yet, we meet.”
prophecies. All the prophecies of the world, all the traditions are
converging now. There is no time for games.” - Carlos Barrios
Carlos Barrios, Mayan elder and Ajq’ij is a ceremonial priest and spiritual guide of the Eagle Clan. Carlos initiated an investigation into the different Mayan calendars circulating. Carlos along with his brother Gerardo studied with many teachers and interviewed nearly 600 traditional Mayan elders to widen their scope of knowledge.Carlos found out quickly there were several conflicting interpretations of Mayan hieroglyphs, petroglyphs, Sacred Books of ‘Chilam Balam’ and various ancient text. Carlos found some strong words for those who may have contributed to the confusion:
Using the Native American Indian Medicine Wheel as a living tool, the Shaman initiates a self healing process that leads him or her on a journey into the spiritual world. We can use the Medicine Wheel as a learning tool, just as the Shamans have done for ages. We call upon the archetypes of the nature world in each direction of the wheel. Calling upon theses spirits allows us to tap into an ancient historical image of the major forces of nature, and the lineage of the Shaman. As we enter the 21st century, we are also able to connect to the cosmic forces that are awakening our ancient memory. We begin to understanding how our cosmic origins play an important role as we fulfill our souls purpose as healers or "caretakers" of the Earth.
Shamanism– Anthropological term of the beliefs and or practices within ancient indigenous cultures. Specifically a trained shaman has the ABILITY TO TRANSCEND PHYSICALITY, to COMMUNICATE WITH THOSE WITHIN THE SPIRITUAL WORLD – ENTER INTO STATES OF ECSTASY – NOTE: accept in the case of female shamans who, Anthropologists noted how they “seemed to be overtaken with “hysteria” – this observance by “men” of “women shamans” was biased since the field of Archeology and Anthropology initially was dominated by men, therefore, in the field of scientific studies of Shamanism there was little if any documentation of the existence of female shamans. All “artifacts” pointing to the “goddess cultures” or sacred feminine orientation of early cultures had been ignored.
Within all Indigenous cultures throughout the world their existed Shamans, It was known that one is called to become a Shaman through dreams or visions – and upon finding the true and knowledgeable teacher they begin many years of study before they are allowed to practice as a Shaman. Shamanism is genetically passed through generations as a person can be born with shamanic abilities – although, that person already has shamanic abilities, it is essential and necessary that they seek a master teacher who guides them in the responsibilities required to serve the people – and to uphold integrity and gain necessary tools of discerning benevolent beings as compared to “tricksters” and those malevolent entities that exist within realms the shaman must enter, and that are always lurking, waiting to attach themselves to unsuspecting persons.
A “master shaman” is an intermediary a messenger between the human world and spirit world – and has the ability to safely enter supernatural realms and other dimensions – underworld – upper worlds – parallel realms to restore balance within the world or the elements – animals and systems of the earth and – to treat and heal physical aliments of body mind and spirit and to retrieve information that restores a person’s soul/spirit.
A “lost soul/spirit” metaphorically describes a sickness or illness or malevolent entity that has attacked persons and attaches itself to that person’s physicality – their mind and or spirit. Often it is required that a master Shaman journey to “retrieve a “lost soul” which specifically describes the Shaman’s ability to, search for a particular malady or entity which had affected or intruded upon a persons spirit/soul and had caused illness, disharmony or other.
This retrieval can be dangerous and the Shaman must have the capacity to battle the entity that is reluctant to be discharged from their host.
It is required, that a Shaman must gain generations of knowledge and specific powers in order to avoid danger and malevolent entities during the required ecstatic state – which is necessary for the Shaman to begin their journey to enter unknown realms and thus, will encounter archetypal organisms; demons and allies. – They must be prepared to experience the dismemberment of themselves, which is typical during shamanic journey’s - and have the ability to renew and regenerate them selves in order to return whole “without” carrying negative entities that the Shaman will be confronted with.
A master Shaman has the knowledge and ability to discern, to ward off malevolent entities - to retrieve specific allies and the necessary wisdom and remedies and what is required to heal a person and renew harmony within that persons spirit/soul.
The master Shaman is guided and assisted by benevolent allies he/she has “captured” and who with their help retrieves remedies and solutions. Other tools are required such as drums – rattle - chants – such as a spirit song given them by a benevolent helper – and specific incantations that protect them during trance states; some of which may be handed down through generations of Shamans.
Shaman’s are distinct in their abilities – Examples: Some excel in only specific areas of healing – such as communion both with the living and the dead – some excel in appeasing the spirits – clearing negativity from homes and or places where violence had taken place – to retrieve or repair either a “torn or captured” soul – dispel entities attached to a persons mind or physical self.
The difference’s between Western medicine and Shamanism are vast and clearly show how the Shaman as a practitioner treat the “whole person” body, mind and spirit” They understand the existence of divergent and otherworld sources of illness and completely engage with all aspects of the illness, maintaining an ability to communicate with these mysterious sources and the power to “capture the entity of the illness” Shaman’s utilize generations of knowledge and wisdom maintaining time honored practices that allow the Shaman success without use of drugs or other intrusive practices. .
Belief in the Shamans ability within the community is crucial and lends support energetically to healing.
The knowledge that their exists’ those negative entities to be dealt with, that not only affect ones psyche but the spirit/soul which can be the cause of numerous illness is an alien concept to western practitioners. The Shaman and their ability to change their state of consciousness is necessary to succeed in healing and retrieval – they have allies; benevolent spirits or elementals and the knowledge and ability to maintain them.
In today’s world people are longing for and seeking truth. Increasingly they are unsatisfied with what organized Religions offer – and they are being called by some faint memory of their ancestral link to nature and most significantly to return to their “tribe”
This longing draws them to spiritual ritual through Shamanism, I believe the increased interest in Shamanism fulfills and satisfies an ancient need.
Originally the meaning of the word “Shamanism” had designated that person as spiritually gifted and they represented and were viewed by their tribal community as the “ONE WHO KNOWS”
We can say with assurance that the Shaman, knows without a doubt that their spiritual gift is true – they harbor no doubt or fear and will never be overtaken by any outside forces of resistance or interruptions in order to succeed.
What is important to note and what can help the people today in their search for fulfillment is that they reconnect their spirit to nature – to return to the original indigenous ways spend prime time with the sacred Mother earth, nature beings and spiritual elements and make offerings and prayers. This will renew and harmonize you and bring healing and inner peace.
What is important for the people to understand is that Shamanism is a distinct ancient practice that takes years to develop correctly and is a great responsibility that a Shaman carries for the people.
Grandmother Barbara Threecrow, 2012 copyrighted
“The answers we seek lie within the inner most circle - the sacred circles of women”
Returning to the center of the women’s circle fulfills a prophecy which brings us full circle to once again honor the sacred feminine. There are many circles forming throughout the world as women are now answering the grandmothers' call. We as women are to begin to fulfill our original agreement and lead the way to harmony and balance. It is said, that a time would come when women would change the patterns held by generations dominated by the patriarchal rule, and that there would come a time when the sacred circles would be mended, disharmony between men and women would be healed, and disregard of the sacred feminine no longer tolerated. Now is that time.
on Shamanism &The Evolution of Consciousness:
with Olivia Olkowski, Itzhak Berry & Grandmother Barbara Threecrow
Moderator: Alan Steinfeld
Location: META Center New York, 214 W 29th St, 16th FL, NY 10001.