Homegrown Shamanism: Ponderings of a British Bloodline

Ok so I’m going to say this nice and clearly upfront! There is absolutely no intention here to gatekeep or attack any British person who uses the term I am about to discuss, to describe either themselves or their work. Please read the entire document before you attempt to burn me! This is merely my search for authenticity and it is fully open to discussion.

Here goes…….

Shaman – I’ve always had such a problem with the use of this word within my country, as do many other British folk. Quite basically because it’s not ours! Not our word, not our language, not our culture. Yet it’s thrown around carelessly by us Brits as we tread our spiritual pathways. It’s cultural appropration on its largest scale! Or is it?

According to Britannica.com “The term Shamanism/Shaman comes from the Manchu-Tungus word šaman. The noun is formed from the verb ša- ‘to know’; thus, a Shaman is literally “one who knows.” The Shamans recorded in historical ethnographies have included women, men, and transgender individuals of every age from middle childhood onward.”

And Greentara.ie says “Europeans first acquired the term for Shaman from Russia in the 1690s. During the mid-to-late 17th century, Russian-Cossack explorers and conquerors heard and recorded the word ‘saman’ from the Evanki tribe, a Tungus-speaking people of Siberian Russia.”

So as a British (English) woman, I have never been able to use that word to describe myself, even though I do the same work. Shamanic practitioner? Yes. Call myself a Shaman? Hell no! It always felt wrong. But let’s look into it more deeply.

England’s ancient countrymen would have done the same work as the Evanki Shaman within their tribes. Not the watered down, modern day version that myself and others like me do. I’m talking looking for visions in animal entrails here (sorry animal lovers, but it did happen). And when I say England, I mean Albion. **Albion being my land before the Celts, the Picts, the Romans, the Saxons, and the Norse ever arrived. The Ancient Celtic ‘Druid’ seems to be the word that fits the most as a stand-in, but again, I’m talking pre-Celtic history on our lands so that word doesn’t quite fit.

Other than the word Druid, we British folk don’t have a word for the work a Shaman does. Witch? Witches certainly do the same workings as Shamans, but as we all know, the word Witch has such an abused history that it’s seen as being a slur rather than an honoured path within a community or tribe. And the word Witch comes from Old English (wicce) which would make it Anglo Saxon. So I’m talking much earlier than that word too.

Little is known about pre-Celtic history in Britain. Nothing was every really written down until the Romans came. So when someone like me comes along and tries to find a root to what it is they do and connect with, it’s pretty impossible. And due to that lack of information, I’ve found myself forging my own path.

I call it Homegrown Shamanism, and it’s something that I was guided to by my beloved Goddess Morrigan (with a further push from Elen of the Ways). The Morrigan has always tried to move me away from labelling and boxing myself too much as it’s very restrictive to growth. So both She and Elen plugged me into my natural surroundings instead. And it works! If you consider what you see everyday, what energy touches you, what animals and plant life surround you…..those are your absolute closest allies. That is the purest, rawest energy you can connect with. The most unfiltered, deep down in the dirt, unprocessed, natural, freshest, cyclic connection you can forge. The Morrigan even brought me surprising animal spirit allies. Boars and brown bears! What?! They aren’t British! Oh but they were once. And my land holds many memories of those animals within it.

So let’s go a step further here.

Let’s discuss Elen of The Ways. Some cite her with the birth of British Shamanism! Is that possibly true? At the end of the ice age, Britain was still attached to Northern Europe. A vast continental land known as Doggerland, made it possible to walk from Norway, across what is now Denmark, to the Eastern side of Britain. The ‘suggestion’ is that the Northern tribes of Denmark and Norway, crossed Doggerland, following their Reindeer herds, looking for greener lands. And they brought with them their great reverance for Reindeer, and an Ancient Antlered Goddess. It’s fun to note that in the original northern Saami dialect, the word for a reindeer herd is ‘eallun’, pronounced Elun. Go figure! https://www.laits.utexas.edu/sami/diehtu/siida/reindeer/glossary.htm

Map of Doggerland sourced from https://www.dw.com/en/doggerland-how-did-the-atlantis-of-the-north-sea-sink/a-55960379

So when Elen is cited as the birth (or Mother) of British Shamanism, is it true? Is Elen our original connection to the shamanic path? Is the word Shaman actually a part of Britain’s oldest history? Can we safely use it without stepping into the big black pit of cultural appropriation? Of course, we’ll never know for sure. Very little is fact! But I do like the possibility that us Brits aren’t just Roman engineered conquerors who chose to ‘acquire’ countries that didn’t belong to us when we felt like it!

Whatever the answer to this whole conundrum may be, I’ll still walk my own path. I’ll still work with my closest energies and nature. I’ll still practice my ‘Homegrown Shamanism’. Because sometimes, overly searching for a label, a culture, or a tradition to fit into takes you away from the deepest root of all…..our connection to what is under our feet…..Mother Earth.

Food for thought my loves. Food for thought.

Lyndsey x

**Albion is the oldest name that I could find for England, but there is very little written to prove that it is indeed, England’s oldest name.**

©Badb’s Cauldron

Walking with the Morrigan in Twilight Groves

Freepik

I have awoken to the cawing of Crows again, against the barely lit white-washed walls that slump inward unto themselves.
The world shudders with an ice in its heart, and the crows are all stirred up, for the spiritual ecosystem is charged as a broken system lets out its death throes.
Archaic old dictators vie for control, but it slips under their fingernails as the ashes kiss the wind, and I hear Her, ushering in change, tempestuous and unyielding, stalking the grounds like a phantom seeking blood.
Every mirror reflects these cracks, the old and wearied that clings and breaks, the brittle notion of conformity.
The Dark Goddess rises.
The Morrigan rises from deep in the Earth, splitting it twain with a revelation of quaking, emerging beautiful and terrible, her blade slipping from its sheath to deliver the final blow.
I see Her, glorious, those dark raven eyes peering into the bones of my soul, knowing who I am, who I have been, and who I am becoming.
I follow the long shadow of her cape that scatters ink soot feathers across the dirt-trod path, weaving in and out of the liminal spaces between trees and Earth.
Shifting, ever shifting, I follow the path of my Goddess, my Mother, She who saved my life and gave it back to me, over and over.
The Morrigan who has split me in twain and sewn me up, over, and over again, who knows my breaking, my bleeding.
But above all my rising.
My consciousness flits in and out with every breath, visible in the cold that pierces my skin, as we journey ever on.
The chorus of the Corvids peaks, a chatter that drowns out all others, as we reach the threshold once more.

The Morrigan in sacred places.
In time worn groves long forgotten, set to the torch or knife by man, a forest now only of ghosts and memory. Their ancient wisdom held in this place, a testament to when the world was wilder, before this vicious cycle had taken full root and plagued the Earth.

She sits, perched in the centre against a stump covered in moss, and the light bends around Her, defusing through the thick branches that gnarl around one another in greeting.
The very trees speak; a rustle of leaves, a groaning of bark. What secrets they held and hold still, here in the most sacred of places.
Long talons tap against Her blade, screeching in the most uncomfortable of ways, beckoning approach or else retreat.
Knowing this dance, how could I ever call myself Hers if I fled? Never once have I ran from Her, nor denied Her.
I have screamed in rage, in pain, in desperation as Her lessons have broken my spine and stretched my ragged breath thin – but I have never deserted.
Which is why I am here.
Again.
It is time for the last breath of this cycle, a rebirthing, a cleansing from the stagnancy of the outdated, and so, surrounded by feathers and roots, I walk forth, to the waiting eyes of The Morrigan.

Would the talons rake my skin again, I wondered, how deeply would the lesson splinter?
“The world is changing,” She croaks, in that voice outside of time, it mists in and outside of my head, “There is death all around, and the drums are howling, men will try to devastate this Earth once more.”

I cannot deny it has been in my waking thoughts, wondering about the shape of things to come. Knowing that we have all been staring out into the unknown abyss for some time, scuttling for safety like rats on a sinking ship. Chaos has been reigning, and it is not done yet.
The Morrigan simply shifts Her shape within the red mist, collecting the broken, ciphering souls to the Otherworld and on.
Holding the memories within Her, always. Honouring the Dead.

Her hand is on my head, and She weaves Her fingers across my body, forming a sort of armour, all gold and shifting, parts blacker than volcanic soil, glinting with a temporal shift. “There is much to come. Much to do. Much to defend,” She croaks, and I wonder at that.

As the world falls apart and reknits itself, as ever it has done, I wonder about the guiding hand of The Morrigan, and She smiles in that way I know, all red lipped and fanged, where Her Will is undeniable.
None can withstand it. She will come in ferocious as a tide of change, and all will be scattered to the wind.

When it is not safe, who will love me still?” She asks.
My heart aches at that, a single tear falls, for I will.
And to that I shall always hold – and She knows.

In the deepest recesses of those eyes that shimmer with deathlessness, She Knows.

Fashion woman posing near the sea. Dark Queen.

There are so many arguments swirling around as to who deserves to discuss the Morrigan, so many would-be dictators that attack as soon as they feel power slipping from their grasp.
Mirroring the world at large by seeking to dominate, and crush others under their heel, in the name of a Goddess who was never about cruelty.
Only the Christianizing hand sought to paint her thus.
For Morrigan is ancient, primal, powerful – the ever-shifting shape of Sovereignty and Evolution.
You cannot control change, for it seeps in at the corners when you’re dreaming and before you know it takes root in the ground.
The Crow wings bring gusts together and the old system falls, the new Sovereign is crowned, and only the Land remembers.
Humans forget quickly, and with purpose, but the Spiritual Ecosystem holds every truth that ever was, reflecting the course of human memory.
A thousand people believing that they were the one to whom power belonged, and the shadows grew under each of their eyes as they poisoned themselves inside out.
You cannot hold onto power, for that is merely borrowed, and the day comes when it will be returned.
All things fall.
Power instead lies in the resolute conquering only of oneself, to embody the Sacred grove within your soul, and know that to all things there is a cycle. We are nature reflected unto itself, and that makes the disconnect from it all the more painful.
The need to control the narrative is born from a complete lack of understanding that we are all the narrative, memory, and the stories we weave, are all sacred in the Spirit realm.
The Morrigan holds them in her throat, and utters forth prophecy and regales battle worn spirits with tales remembered.
She is in the Land, and the Sea, and the Sky. She walks between all the realms of existence, and ushers in change at every meeting.

You can no more control Her than the shifting wind, or the depths of the Ocean.
It is folly to try.

Move well through the Otherworlds, Starlets
Joey Morris