"The wisdom of the ages." These simple words have the power to transport us from a place of devastation to a state of mind anchored deeply in the earth, like a rock that is steadfast and welcoming, having weathered the greatest of storms and remained strong. I see my ancestors on this rock, moored securely from the storm and then standing on it to celebrate the birth of a glorious new day.
This thought, "the wisdom of the ages," gives me a sense of well-being that fills me with the certainty that I am loved and that I am part of a greater world that has survived lifetimes of change through the healing power of love. By opening our hearts and filling them with this love, we can draw all of the strength and wisdom we will ever need in life, if only we know how. That is the key. Is this not what we are all seeking in the uncertain times in which we live today?
I am a shaman woman of the 21st century, and I have been blessed by spirit to have spent nearly 40 years of my life studying and working with native shaman women, many of them elders, on three different continents and twice as many countries. I have learned an ancient wisdom from them that has been studied and used, preserved and handed down from shaman to apprentice for thousands of years.
I am told that Carl Jung turned to his followers before he died and said, "I no longer believe. I know." My teachers are women who know, and in their knowing I have found a greater clarity in life and a certainty grounded in bedrock, born of the ancient knowledge and understanding of how energy moves in the universe and how to choreograph that energy toward a higher purpose in life.
My world today is the world of the shaman, where energy in all its powerful and magnificent forms is used to elevate body, mind and spirit to the highest degree, one that is rooted in harmony rather than chaos, and in the give and take of love and the nurturance of life, rather than its destruction. What a joyous way to understand and experience the world around us!
With their blessing, it is my vision, my dream and my purpose in life to be a bridge between these native women and their ancient teachings and the modern world in which we live. I have been doing just this for the past 25 years, through my "Mystery School," the Lynn Andrews Center for Sacred Arts and Training, and all of my books and gatherings, even as I continue my work with them, for to be alive is to learn.
Ancient peoples knew that to live successfully in the world, their relationship with higher consciousness must shape their world view. Think about this for just a moment. Today, we live in a world where physical reality shapes our relationship with higher awareness. In the ancient world, it was higher awareness that shaped people’s relationship with their physical reality. And there is a world of difference between the two.
My teachers have shown me and I know that it is far better to be in a physical reality which is shaped by higher awareness than in a reality where my view of the world and my place in it is subject to the vagaries, whims and the increasing cruelty of the physical world. The study and application of shamanism shows me how to shapeshift out of a subjugated reality into a life of wondrous purpose and clarity.
Nothing in life is truly simple, for life itself is complex. It is, however, far less complicated than one could ever imagine once you have found the keys that unlock the shaman’s tools within your own self. My teachers, shaman women who spring from an unbroken tradition of shamans going back many millennia, have shown us that the keys to enlightenment are already within each and every one us even before we were born.
I once asked Agnes, during our early work together, what she thought of the biblical passage that says many are called, but few are chosen? She laughed and said, "Lynn, we are all called and we are all chosen if only we have the courage to step into the unknown." The second key of shamanism is the key of willingness, being open and willing to accept something new into your life; from these two keys, the keys of love and willingness, all else flows.
My teachers have never taught me what I must learn. They teach me by putting me in situations where I have to grow and change in order to survive successfully. Then the learning becomes true and real within me, and the teachings become a part of my conscious awareness of my own life. This is what I do in my Mystery School, I show you how to learn from the circumstances of your own life, which are the most powerful mirrors you will ever have, to change, heal and grow.
I came to adulthood in the ’60’s, a time when people in many parts of the world were questioning even the most fundamental structures of their society, for when we looked around, we did not like what we saw: poverty, ignorance, hatred, war. And when I first met my teachers, I was filled with all kinds of notions about how to fix everything. One day Agnes and I rode horses out to a meadow near her wilderness home in the far north of Canada. As we were sitting on the ground eating smoked fish and bread, Agnes turned and asked me, "Lynn, what do you believe in?"
I was surprised by the abruptness of her question, and I said that I believed in being honest. She laughed and placed a small rock on the earth in front of me, then she asked me to go on. I answered that I believed in being good at what I do. She placed another rock alongside the first one. I went on to explain to her all of my important political and ethical values, which had been shaped and formed by the world in which I lived. By the time I had finished, there was a large mound of rocks in front of me, and I asked Agnes what this meant.
"Those rocks represent each of your beliefs," she said. "There is the hoop of the world and the hoop of the self. Your hoops are like nests that surround you – very comforting. But you must recognize the existence of such safe nests. You must see that you sit on those rocks as if they were eggs and you were the mother hatching them. You must see that you are not free, because you will never leave your nest of self-ignorance." She pointed to the rocks. "There is your nest. You can spend the rest of your life hatching that if you want to. Those eggs will be the boundaries of your experience."
Today, I cannot even comprehend living my life, bound by such a giant pile of rocks, lugging their enormous weight around in order to justify my own existence.
Today, I understand that all living things anywhere in the universe are made of energy. Even our thoughts are a form of energy. If you want to have power in your life, you must make a place within yourself for power to live.
Power is the energy that flows through all living things, and it is never static. Power, like energy, is constantly moving. We can use the power of energy to heal our world, our earth and our lives, and what a glorious way to live. The study of shamanism shows us how. Or we can use energy to destroy the world around us. The choice is ours to make.
Shamans know how to draw power to facilitate healing and personal transformation. That is what you learn in my Mystery School, how to harmonize the powers of the winds and the waters, the plants and trees, the four-leggeds and the winged ones, the great power, beauty and spirit of all of the natural forces of the universe – even those which science has yet to "discover" – to generate your own individual power, the mystical power to heal your body and bring to fruition your passion and dreams for your own life. Nobody else can do it for you.
If there is a war in the world, it is because there is a war going on inside the peoples of the world. Shamanism can teach us how to use power to heal the wars that are going on inside ourselves. And by healing ourselves, we heal the world around us. As Agnes Whistling Elk always says, "The greatest gift you can give to the world is the gift of your own enlightenment."
I founded the Mystery School so that people today, no matter where you live or what you do in life, could relearn – because there was a time long ago when this wisdom walked across face of the earth – and reconnect with the natural powers of the universe to heal and empower ourselves, our lives and our world to a life of joy and harmony. Shamanism teaches us how to use higher awareness to shape the world around us, thereby elevating all of life. It is time for us to stop giving away all our power to the world outside ourselves. I can show you how to access your innate shaman abilities, your own mystical powers which are already within you waiting to be discovered. This is what shamans do, increasingly, all over the world today, bringing the power and wisdom of the ancients back to life to heal our modern world.
Post Script: "When the ancients and native peoples are conquered, their culture is destroyed, and often all of the people killed. This is tragic. But there is also another tragic loss, and this is the loss of the gifts and the wisdom that they have embodied for hundreds and even thousands of years. Among the tribes of North America, there was the Twisted Hair, a sacred teacher of ancient ways. The Twisted Hair was the symbol of enlightenment who told all people that freedom of body and spirit was possible. The Twisted Hair was a promise that higher consciousness could be attained, that there was a process which everyone could learn so that they could be reborn carrying the sacred pipe for prayer. The people of the Twisted Hair knew that the universe was within them and that their sacred song was their harmony with Great Spirit. Now their songs are sung differently on the winds, and few remember."
We must become the new Wisdom Keepers so that, because of our strength of spirit and the strength of spirit of our teachers, we will remember the stories of enlightenment and share them with future generations. No one else can do it for us.
The Lynn Andrews Center for Sacred Arts and Training, Lynn’s "Mystery School," is a four-year program of shamanic study which leads to professional certification as a spiritual healer and eligibility to become an ordained minister of the sacred healing arts, as well as eligibility to pursue a B.A., Master’s or Ph.D. program in sacred healing from the University of Natural Medicine in New Mexico. Visit www.lynnandrews.com.