Shamanic Energy Training, October 31 2019

Overlooked protocols and etiquette for holding sacred space

A Story of Reconciliation

Holding shamanic ceremonies and opening sacred spaces is very popular right now.

Ceremony tends to create a “reality distortion field” which beguiles and amazes the participants into a feeling of being looked after, and they believe that the person in front of them is the cause of the magical experience they are having; leaving them blissfully unaware of what is really taking place in the space.

If it was a well run ceremony, with a skilled ceremonialist, to the outside unknowing perspective, the practitioner  would make it seem easy.  It must be easy - right?

We regularly receive requests asking us to teach people how to hold sacred space.  Many of these requesters believe we are able to impart 18 years of experience and knowledge over a 1 hour Skype session.  It takes decades to refine your skills as a ceremonialist.  However, there seems to be a prevailing expectation that within 1 day of discussion or observation; one can become suitably qualified to run a cacao, or other subtle plant ceremonies, whilst holding space for a group of individuals.

Did you know that some Barista trainings in Australia are 3 weeks long?

Yet there is an endless amount of online and in person training to become a Sacred Space Holder in anything from a few hours to a couple of days.   By Sacred Space Holder, we are referring to someone that invokes and works with spirits in the space.  We are continually stunned that the role of a sacred ceremonialist is perceived so incorrectly.

A good friend of ours was asked to do a 45 min online training video for a cacao distributor, who wanted to instruct people how to hold their own cacao ceremonies.  Late last year, we got a call from someone about to serve at a cacao ceremony asking: ‘what should I put in the brew?’. And just recently a kirtan singer asked another friend to show her how to do cacao ceremony in an hour. 

What has lead people to believe that they can learn how to open and hold a sacred space in a fraction of the time than it takes to become a Barista?

There is a recognised psychological phenomenon which leads inexperienced people to overestimate their abilities because they have not learned enough to grasp how much they don’t know ( abstract ).  In short, they don't know what they don't know. 

It must be easy ... Right?

...  Not if you are also considering the multi-dimensional aspects of the space and the need to manage spirits, your team and the participants.

Please note that our intention is to bring awareness, and not blame or shame to anyone.  We realise many people do this work with the right intention, despite being a tad ‘inexperienced’ or naive.  We have made many of the common mistakes, listed below, on our own spirit worker paths.  We were lucky to find the right teachers along the way who have helped us rectify our previous errors.  We were also very naive and ignorant when we started.  It has taken us a long time to get to a place of right relationship with spirits and true understanding of what it means and what it takes to be a ceremonialist. We hope the checklist below helps you understand some of the work involved in running a ceremony …

A ceremonialist needs to have a diverse repertoire of skills including: geomancy, knowledge of herbalism, counselling skills, an ability to work with shamanic tools in a respectful manner; an ability to perceive spirits and work with them; an ability to psychopomp  (cross over) spirits, and to work with the energy in the room.  Plus there is a myriad of skills needed to manage the participants!

We created the Plant Spirit Ceremonialist training, which we hold in Bali, to be the first step to becoming a compassionate and skilled holder of sacred spaces.  Our vision is for you to become an Authentic Enchanted Human: someone with integrity, gravitas, respect, humility and power, who operates in harmony with the blessing of the surrounding spirits; who stands in their own sovereignty and who acknowledges that there is still much to learn. We encourage our students to continue mentorship, learning and practicing, to continually improve their ability to hold an impeccable space.

A ceremonialist needs to have done substantial amounts of spirit world training, ancestral healing and trauma work in order to be able to lead participants in a well held and energetically protected environment.  Note, by using the word ceremonialist, we are also referring to sound healers and any workshop leaders who open medicine wheels, call in spirits such as angels, ascended masters and/or use shamanic tools such as a drum. 

Did you know that because of the tradition of doing sacred work with a drum, and the resulting morphogenic field that is now in place; that anyone who beats a ‘shamanic’ drum, without exception, is inviting spirits into their space?

Since drumming invites spirits into a space, we need to know what type of spirits are coming in, and how to manage them, cross them over and set strong boundaries. As the drummer, YOU are in charge of the spirits of the place, the participants and the helping team.  As the ceremonialist you are also in charge of creating a proper relationship with any plant spirits that are used.

Here are some tips to adopt and common space holding mistakes to avoid: 

We hope our story inspires you to take this work seriously and to approach with caution, humility and respect.

Much Love as Always

The Shamanic Energy Training team

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Shamanic Energy Training


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