Updated: Jan 26
When I become curious about something, I explore it. My curiosity sometimes leads me to discover something significant about myself and I dig deeper. I often feel like an archeologist, unearthing artifacts from a life that belongs to me but also to someone I don’t completely know. When I integrate this new information, my reality, and life shifts. So I'm now in the habit of giving myself permission to lean into my curiosity and my world is expanding exponentially. Discovering that my ancestors on both sides of my family were Herbalists in Ireland dating back to the 1400s, was an eye-opener. The fact that I had already spent a great deal of time as a healer, working as a Registered Nurse for 13 years, affirmed my curiosity. This led me to study Herbalism for 3 years and eventually to starting my own practice as an Herbalist at Spiral Herbal Remedies. I suspect my ancestors were also Shamans since the two practices often existed in tandem. So I’ve started exploring Irish Shamanism and Druidism. It’s feeling like one of those rabbit holes again and I’m curious to see where it leads me. Stories about Ancient Ireland mention Shamanism. (See image below from a Celtic vessel that dates from 300-200 BC, sporting the image of someone in a trance-like state, legs crossed, eyes closed, possibly surrounded by spirit animals.) I'm borrowing this word since most texts from Pagan Ireland were systematically destroyed by Christianity and later again under the British Occupation. Some people call these practitioners Sli an Croi. We're not sure of their name but we know they existed. Shamanism would have been practiced on a local level whereas, Druidism was a scholarly lifestyle dedicated to learning a complex oral tradition and practice. Shaman means “the keeper of knowledge” but also “the walker between worlds”. Shamans were Artists, Healers, and Herbalists. They also spent time exploring other realms of existence, tapping into an energy that most people sense but aren’t able to fully comprehend. Our brain is considered the last frontier by many. We still don’t understand consciousness. It is the command post for bodily functions. Of note, there is a part of the body that can operate autonomously from the brain. What’s fascinating about this part of the body is that it also happens to be occupied by non-human species. I’m talking about the gut and our Microbiome. I’ve written a lot about the Microbiome. For detailed information, go to my Blog post #40. In this post, I’m going to talk about the Microbiome from a different perspective. The medical field now knows what Healers have been telling people for millennia - heal the gut first, then the rest of the body. Only in the last few years has science confirmed the importance of a healthy gut/microbiome to our overall health. Bacteria, fungi, and viruses were unseen/unknown collaborators in our bodily functions prior to the microscope and research on the gut. What other unseen forces have healers and shamans known about that are yet to be confirmed by science? And what does it mean when we have a "gut" or "intuitive" feeling about something? Adding to this discussion is Quantum Physics, a discipline currently studied at MIT and other prestigious universities. Quantum physics has proven that what you pay attention to influences the behavior of molecules. We now know it’s possible for the same molecules to exist in more than one realm simultaneously, and that what we do to a molecule in one realm affects it in another. I’ve been encouraged to dig deeper into the metaphysical but I’ll admit that my medical training and experience made me resistant. I’ve come around. Using Reiki energy and smudging on the products I make, listening to my “intuition” or “gut” when assessing and working through problems. And I’m pretty excited to be studying Shamanism. As we see an uptick in COVID cases nationally, let's remember how we flattened the curve in NYC. We brought the numbers down from over 6000 cases per week in March and April to around 300 and even less since the second week of June. Face masks, social distancing, etc, work. Yes, it has been a long haul and we all want to get back to "normal" but it comes at a huge price when we ignore what we’ve learned. It appears that gathering in small, intimate groups with masks and social distancing, outdoors is low risk. It appears that short visits indoors (15 minutes or less) with masks, distance, and fresh air circulating is low risk. We can still go for long walks with dear ones. We can do family zoom calls and daily phone check-ins. We've grown as individuals, in our forced isolation, giving ourselves time to reflect, making our time with loved ones even more precious. Hang in there. Even if you think Covid doesn't affect you personally, let’s keep the vulnerable safe.