Now I know what you are thinking? How is a woman born and raised in London, in one of the busiest, modern cities in the world, writing an article about living shamanically? And my answer is – it makes sense in a divinely paradoxical way that I would have to learn how to live in flow with nature, as it did not come naturally.
I am a Londoner, and have lived here for most of my life. For years I hated it; the dirt, the pollution, the lack of space, the chaos, the impermanence, the concrete, the cars, the car parks, the hugeness of the city. For those who know London it can be a very isolating place, despite the growing population, twenty-four hour lifestyle, and myriad things on offer and to do. Despite this being my ‘natural habitat’ something about this way of life just felt wrong and unnatural. Something was missing, but I didn’t know what it was. I didn’t realise it at the time, but I was totally out of sync with the natural flow of nature.
I chuck my waste in the bin and the council dustbin men pick it up every Wednesday. I flush the loo and my poo vanishes down the drain; I turn on the tap, and hot and cold water flows freely; I take a shower and the water disappears down the plug hole; I use the washing machine and the water magically disappears, leaving my clothes clean and washed. I have a constant supply of central heating, electricity and broadband so I can communicate with the rest of the world at my fingertips. I go to the supermarket and there are rows and rows of choice; the shelves are stocked with an abundance of food; fresh, organic, processed, factory-made, tinned, frozen, depending on the price I can afford. Chicken and meat are already gutted, cleaned of all blood, fur and gristle, and packaged, and the fruit and vegetables are perfectly, weirdly all the same size.
When I was eighteen I left London for three years and travelled to Australia, South East Asia, India and Sri Lanka. During that time I saw incredible poverty; villages with no drinking water; self-sufficient communities, and communities suffering from corporate irresponsibility and tourism. I realised I was one of the lucky ones, while these poor beings in developing countries had been born into extreme hardship and poverty. But it wasn’t my problem; it was just the way the cookie crumbles, or the Karma rolls. I returned to London and took advantage of free education and a government grant, and completed a degree in Study of Religions at School of Oriental and African Studies, UCL.
After my degree I started consulting for an esoteric shop in London and saw the many different ways we enlighten ourselves in the West; crystals, runes, tarot, angels, guides, Ascended Masters, mantras, power animals, dowsing, there is a way for everyone. We are all different and therefore vibrate to different things. Using crystals as healing tools and tarot for divination helped me understand that this world is much more mysterious than religions would like us to believe.
I started to understand that everything responds to energy, because everything is energy. Experiencing the direct power of things we cannot see with our limited five senses opened my eyes to a sixth sense, that of energy, of connection with a source greater than ourselves. I realised I was not really in control, that a higher power much greater than me – what I had known as god in a religious sense – was somehow also influencing my life. However, it wasn’t until I found my way to the Amazon Jungle and began living in harmony with nature that everything started to make sense and the pieces of the puzzle finally started to fit together.
While I was working in a hotel in Machu Picchu, Peru, I fell into a deep depression, that led to a near death experience. That night, I went out into the mountains and I prayed for clarity, help, guidance, something to heal my shattered heart. A Shaman came to me in a vision and told me he that he could help me and had the medicine. I was so desperate that I followed the vision and found this Shaman nestled in a tiny village on a tributary river deep in the Amazon jungle. Don Juanito was the local shaman for the area, an old wise curandero, and traditional Ayahuasquero, who primarily administered Ayahuasca, a potent Amazonian plant medicine.
I became the Shaman’s apprentice and had the privilege of living in this little village in the Amazon where we had to rely solely on the natural resources for our existence, and I started to learn how to live symbiotically with nature.
The river was our source of life, providing water for drinking and cooking, cleaning, washing and was home to a delicious and abundant variety of fish. We hunted wild pig, otter, anteater, monkey, toucan, birds and I was taught that only by hunting sustainably would we maintain the natural balance for other families but more importantly for future generations. For example, one day on one of our hunts we came across a mother pig with her pack of baby pigs. We did not kill the mother pig, even though she was much bigger and fatter than the rest, because if we had, the baby pigs would’ve scattered and then there would’ve been no more meat for anyone. By killing one of the baby pigs, we had enough meat to feed our family and left seven other piglets for another family, or for us another day.
We killed for survival and it was a shocking experience. The energy needed to kill an animal was beyond what I realised and then the process of burning the fur off, gutting and cleaning the animal was messy and smelly. I understood what effort it really takes to kill and prepare meat for eating, and yet in the West most of us eat meat every day, sometimes even twice a day, the biggest effort being removing it from its non-disposable plastic wrapping.
The people of this village grew their own fruit and vegetables and mostly bartered their goods for things. The Amazon provides everything a small community needs to live sustainably for generations, as most things are fished, grown or hunted, so there were no banks or building societies, and very little money in circulation. There was no electricity so we used kerosene lanterns made from rusty cans for our evening light, retiring early so we could be up at dawn to start the day.
I also saw that there was no place called ‘away’ and that any rubbish just stayed in the Amazon, so we had very little rubbish, or waste. We just did without things that are considered necessities in the West.
I felt a deep sense of peace and harmony living this way, and my long-term feelings of depression, distress and anxiety dissolved, despite being in such a foreign and dangerous environment.
However, after three and a half months the Shaman sent me back to the West, telling me my destiny was there! I had to learn how to live shamanically in London, in this artificial environment, otherwise I was going to sink back into my depression and misery. I had to comprehend what I had learnt from the Amazon jungle and apply it to the urban jungle.
And so the journey began to living in tune and harmony with nature and find my connection back to nature amid the chaos and concrete of London.
Rebekah Shaman works specifically with plant medicines to help spread plant ‘consciousness’, and assists those in the concrete jungles to live more shamanically, reconnecting them back to Nature and the natural cycles and rhythms of life. Over the past eighteen years she has worked closely with Ayahuasca, Cannabis and Cacao, the ‘feminine’ medicines. Having apprenticed with Ayahuasca in the Amazon by a traditional, indigenous Shaman in 1998, who called her in a vision at Machu Picchu, Rebekah returned to London to complete her training in the urban concrete jungle. For more information, go to www.rebekahshaman.com www.livingshamanically.com www.cacaoceremonies.co.uk
See our article Using Ayahuasca to Help Brazilian Prisoners