After decades of healing studies, I had never gone out of New Jersey for any teaching. One fateful day in 1994 I received a first catalogue from Omega Institute in Rhinebeck New York. I flipped through the pages and one picture and write-up stopped me and kept drawing me back.
It was a week with Olympia Dukakis and three other actresses’ that summer, taking us on a journey to the underworld acting out one of the oldest myths on the planet, a Sumerian story of sisters Innana, the Goddess of Heaven and Ereshkigal, the Goddess of Death.
I had no idea what it would be, but I knew somehow I was to go. I did not know it then but this was one of the bravest things I ever did, and I have jumped off lots of cliffs in many ways. This circle of twenty some women would face their deepest experiences, fears, illusions and choices individually, in community all week. We would stand up and act out many parts of our life and Olympia and company would challenge us to go deeper and be true.
I never saw so many tissues used, even at funerals. We were saying good-bye to our stories and illusions, roles, rules, pain and loss and choices we made against us as we bravely rebirthed our truths. To say it was intense is an understatement.
This large community of women weeping all week cleansed our souls and the earth in many ways. I was so appreciative of this experience that I repeated it twice on weekends in Montclair New Jersey in a theatre that fall.
Olympia would have us stand in the middle of the circle and strongly with deep love not allow us to leave until we surrendered into truth and released our illusions completely. We would stand there alone as she encouraged and waited. I learned what putting your feet to the fire really was and experienced it through myself, and each woman one-by-one.
Hearts broke open as we shared our stories of love, rape, sacrifice and choice over and over. Cleansed in more ways that we could have ever imagined before, we held each other dearly every moment. We celebrated our bravery and the wisdom, love and truth of women, and all we are in the world and held each one of us as sacred.
This workshop awakened me first as a woman in the world and also to what deep inner work was. I was inspired to continue in as many ways as possible since. To go into the underworld stripped naked of all that we hold dear and face being stripped of everything you have known to be true and stay until we are bare bones and then come up into our lives again renewed was a powerful experience for me.
Since then I am grateful to face loss head on and keep discovering fears, illusions, ego, pain and blocks in order to transform them, no matter how hard it is at the time. The freedom is delicious afterward and gives me a firm foundation to move forward clearly and effortlessly with each healing experience.
It is not for everyone although many go through this automatically when they lose partners, parents, children, jobs, homes, health and so much more. I have been thrown into the fire and burned to a crispy critter only to emerge full of more passion, purpose and life energy than before over and over again since.
Shamanism is not only about drumming and journeying, healing is not only about taking pills to stop the pain while disease runs rampant through your body. Healing is about letting go of all that has interfered with your wholeness, truth and health, and healing is about reclaiming vibrant life free of illusions, disease and pain.
Sometimes it is nice and easy and sometimes we must fight through challenges. I have searched the world finding ways to heal more organically and easily as we go deep inside and clean out all that hurts us. Love is the balm and freedom is the path.
Don’t be afraid to let go and go deep through the fear, illusions and pain, because underneath all the supposed blocks, are the precious jewels and gifts of yours, awaiting you to claim them to live a better life.
Enjoy the journey,
Be the Medicine, Live the Power of You!
PS. Olympia and company did not claim themselves to be Shamans, and yet the brave strong work they did with us has been some of the deepest Shamanic healing and learning experience of my life. They stopped doing this work after that year. I was grateful to have had that initiation and deep love and tremendous devotion of those women. They continue to inspire me today.