Shaman School, Terra Mirim, Bahia, Brazil.
You wouldn't know Terra Mirim was there you could easily drive past this powerful shamanic community that's been here for 30 years. Still going, from strength to strength as younger generations arrive and settle there.
I arrived in late October to join the annual Shaman School which was due to start in early November. I had just over a week to adjust to the routine and frequency that this land and community emits. I was told by a few seekers who have joined Terra Mirim each year for the Shaman School. That when I arrive, the "frequency" of this deeply spiritual land will hit me in one way or another. I didn't quite know how to receive this information at the time, I just nodded and contemplated how this might play out for me.
I arrived late at night around 11.30pm and everyone was asleep. So I was shown quietly to my humble little room and got into bed. I woke up unexpectedly at 5am, to the incredible sounds of birds and insects that felt so close I could almost touch them. I was surprised I had woken up so early, but somehow it felt completely right here. I got up found the communal shower next to my room, freshened up to find the community was also wide awake and starting their day.
Luckily, I have friends in Terra Mirim that I have worked with in the UK for the last couple of years, and have met and created friendships with a few of the UK members that are now permanent residents. After them helping me get breakfast at Pachamama kitchen and fill me in on the day to day workings. I suddenly began to feel that I was experiencing this frequency shift my friends had spoken of.
My emotions suddenly rushed up my body like a tidal wave and I started to cry. This land, Terra Mirim has been cultivated and so intensely worked on for so many years, it is a place of healing. The nature here has been nurtured, nourished and communicated with by the shamans who live here, it is truly alive! the spirits here got to work on adjusting my system back to nature. The healing I received came with floods and floods of tears that continued for 3 days. It felt like my heart charka was being cracked open & I was struggling to adjust to this amount of light.
In Terra Mirim there are Temples built to honour the spirits. The Air temple, Water, Earth and Fire. There is a temple of the Ancestors, a Moon temple, A Hape Temple (Tabbaco plant medicine) a Meditation temple and a beautiful river dedicated to the Goddess of the water Oshun (Oxun). All of the temples were created with such honour and reverence for their own particular frequency.
Shoes must be removed before entering the threshold of the temples regardless of the fact they are out in the open. These aren't elaborate, stone or marble structures like you might find in the East. They are temples dedicated solely to nature and the spirits that inhabit them. I saw a guardian spirit in the Fire temple one night during a ceremony. She shocked me at first and then I began to laugh to myself, at how much we aren't aware that spirits and energies are around us all the time in the trees, the bushes and plant life.
The Air temple is big and spacious like its own element. The water temple is by adjoining rivers. It feels very bright and light, feminine in its essence. The Earth temple is full of trees, plants, bushes and exposed roots. The Fire temple is the biggest temple, encompassing the Cabana's (sweat-lodges) and fire pits.
The elemental temples are exposed. They are situated amongst the rivers, forests and a huge diversity of plant life. The Moon and Meditation temples are solid round- house structures which are full of cosy pillows and blankets and beautiful white flooring tiles. The Moon temple has little windows so you can see the moon outside during a ritual. So much attention has been given to honour each space and its own personal energy.
I took myself over the 3 days to the water temple to pray and ask for this elements support and guidance, whilst the heart opening process was occurring. I was starting to feel like I was drowning in the waters of my own tears. Luckily, a dear sister of mine took me by the hand to the Air temple to help "dry me out" and "blow away" my mental confusion, which worked, almost instantly.
I hadn't started Shaman School yet but I was already communicating with the elements for help and guidance, the work had already begun. Shaman School this year was based on developing awareness of the medicine of the four elements. We began the school's first module in the element of Earth which represents the physical body, the second module was Air the mental body, the third was Water the emotional body and finally Fire the spiritual body.
Each module lasted 8 days. We would have 2 days of sharing our experiences with the shaman to integrate and receive feedback and a day or two of rest before the next module would begin. We worked with Plant medicines, Healing clays, Cabana's (sweat lodges), Vision Quest, Fire rituals, many group dynamics, Shamanic theatre and performances, Herb & Flower baths, Singing and drumming to the many sacred songs of Terra Mirm. A couple of days were spent with a visit from an outside tribe the Kariri Xoco. Communing with their very beautiful heart opening medicine called Jurema. They taught us their dances and songs of which we enjoyed a ritual through the night.
Dancing was one of the most important aspects of this work for me. When we are accessing difficult parts of our subconscious, our fears, our grief, our individual and collective trauma. It's imperative that we learn how to re-connect ourselves back to spirit. Dancing lifts the spirit. This is especially important for people who experience depression and anxiety. At the end of every day, or after a challenging exercise we would dance ourselves back to spirit.
Terra Mirim was founded by Shaman Alba Maria aka XamAm. I like many others, felt uncomfortable with guru type statuses being projected onto spiritual teachers and there was a sense of this here. This was a trigger for some which of course, touched much deeper issues and was all very much part of the healing process. For me, after 8 weeks working under the guidance of XamAm. I am more than comfortable referring to her as a Master. She absolutely is!and my trust in her became unshakable.
I hadn't experienced working in this way or this deeply before. I have worked with Shamans in places like the Amazon in Peru. Practised and studied a variety of Western and Eastern modalities, followed different therapies and teachers. XamAm's intuition, her guidance, her complete devotion to shamanism in service solely to the Mother Goddess (mother earth) and by taking into account the places inside myself she helped me to unlock, was something I couldn't of predicted even in my wildest dreams.
Timings of the school were loose, we didn't know each day what we were going to be doing or sometimes what time we were starting. This was so the Shaman could read the energy of the work and intuitively guide the work depending on where the group was energetically. She also wanted to take away predictability and comfort, "this is Shaman School" she would say. In the West this would be unacceptable and considered disorganised for an 8 week residential training programme!
On the contrary, this taught us to live in the present moment, develop deep trust in the process and let go of control. It gifted the students who had intense control issues, plenty to work on during the school. At the end of each day light bulb moments would go off in their heads as they started to access new parts of themselves. This also happened for me many times. I was invited each day to trust spirit and the work on levels I hadn't previously been exposed to. It was pushing the limitations of my ego and personality everyday. I'm so grateful that I trusted. This is how we transform.
XamAm is a Shaman and a qualified Psychologist. Because she has these tools at her disposal, her understanding of the human mind coupled with having walked her own unusually extensive initiation into shamanism, allows her to create a Shaman school that encompasses both, Psychology and Shamanism. This helped me to break deeply ingrained patterns, by becoming more aware of societal conditioning and programming, which is absolutely imperative for our healing.
I realised how strongly we have been colonised and controlled in many different ways in our societies, that we have become trapped in extremely limited mind sets that inhibit self exploration, which has in turn, inhibited our own evolution as a species. Our disconnection to nature, ourselves, each other and spirit, has caused us to destroy our beautiful Mother Earth and treat each other with soulless violence.
When I speak of violence - I am also referring to the way in which we speak to each other, the way we compete with the each other, the jealousy we carry towards each other consciously or unconsciously. The judgments we project onto each other. Including the violence we inflict on ourselves by staying in jobs that are unfulfilling. Living a life lacking in joy and creativity by favouring safety and stability. By being in continuous fear of death. By staying in friendships and relationships that are stagnant or ridged, that limit our fundamental needs for a continuous individual cycle of transformation. The shame we carry around expressing our sexuality and the
darker aspects of our subconscious. This is all violence, because this inevitably causes pain and suffering to another or to ourselves.
Because of the depths I was able to touch within myself, majority of my experience is beyond my capacity for words. This is where spirit and frequency take over and finding language to describe it becomes tricky. All I know is I have been changed forever, a rebirth took place. The first of many more to come.
The reason this was so impactful for me, is because the process was long enough in its duration allowing the time and space for in depth integration. Feeling held and supported by the power of the nature there. The intensity and time we spent on all the bodies, Physical, Mental, Emotional, Spiritual. Most importantly, it was guided in each an every moment by a true Master of her work in service. I will be back next year for Shaman School 2022 - Power Animals :)