The land calls I listen!

In my mid-thirties I attended university for the first time, my first essay only just passed the required mark and my lecturer spoke to me saying “something here is not quite right”. As a result, he sent me for a test at the University’s disability resource centre. 

The outcome of this led to a diagnosis of extreme learning needs, some of my learning ranges (from an academic perspective) sit in the lowest 5% while others sit in the highest 5% of the population. I am very good at what I am good at and hopeless at what I am not! 

As a result, I felt a great relief and my life made sense with all the struggles I have and the tragedy of my schooling suddenly had a clear reason.

I came to understand I simply learn in a different way, school failed me – I did not fail school. I am intelligent and love to learn and bring a dynamic creative expression with the support and information from the University, which was outstanding, I got my degree!

I do feel meeting the world in this way has been a rich ground to grow a spiritual connection with life. As a result, I did not buy into mainstream life and had few layers to remove when my own spiritual life opened up in the late 1990s. 

Coming to learn about and deepen into Animism as a way of relating has had the same effect as this diagnosis, as I have always had this deep connection with nature and life, a connection I believe is inherent in all humans.  It becomes a reality when I actively seek a deeper connection with myself and nature as one. Knowing there is an understanding of an animistic world view has been a great support to me 

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My own gradual spiritual awakening hit a peak in December 1999 and suddenly and dramatically I saw and related to my life in a completely different way, literally overnight. 

I have explored a number of spiritual traditions that have supported me, though in 2004 I met shamanism which I loved and shamanism seemed to love me too, this practice has been a constant in my life ever since.  

More recently I have come to Druidry and now both Shamanism and Druidry walk hand in hand as trusted companions along the path of my life. In my own healing process very soon after this breakthrough in 1999, intuitively I would be out walking and just sitting in nature much as I did as a child.

Very soon this simple act became very important to me and is ever deepening now in my 50s with the understanding of Animism; I now see nature as the most profound healer I have ever met and my relationship with both my own nature and the land where I live is central in my life. 

In 2012 my wife and I asked a question in a shamanic journey. The question was “where is our place of greatest blessing” I have come to realise you have to be careful you want an answer when you ask questions! In this case a clear answer came: the heart of Scotland. 

Logically this move made no sense, we had a very rich and settled life where we were, and now here, we were being asked to move to another country and let it all go! I do listen to my journeys and do act on them; I have grown to trust in the spirits I have built a partnership with, so we decided we were to go! 

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As is the way with these things the first viewing of our house bought it and then we found a home we love and within 4 months we had left our place of 15 years to a new and unknown land and life. 

At one point in buying the house in Scotland there was a major problem uncovered with the deeds and we were advised to let it go as it would take at least 9 months to a year if ever to sort this out. However, working with solicitors and spirit is an interesting process!

 As is my way I brought this dilemma to the spirits they asked me to go to Ireland (my heart and ancestral home) and work in ceremony on the land. This I did and on the train back to the ferry my wife called to say that, to the amazement of the solicitor, and I must add me too, the issue with the house was solved and we were ready to go as planned! 

This was the beginning of a whole ongoing piece of work that I play a part in working with the building of rainbow bridges, spiritual networks between Ireland and Scotland (which also is my ancestral home) for healing and empowerment of land and a reclaiming of partnership with human and Sidhe. 

Now living and on the land of Scotland, in my naivety I thought well I’ll just recreate my life as it was but this was not to be the way. 

A healing process unfolded that led me through an initiation into a classic dark night of the soul where I encountered deep terrors. It was an incredibly difficult and intense experience that started soon after we arrived, and grew in intensity and challenge over a couple of years. 

This process of initiation came as quite a shock as I had a deeply rooted spiritual life and regular practice; my life to me was settled and felt strong though obviously needed to be dismantled and re-formed. 

The most difficult thing in all this was at one point I felt like I had lost my connection to spirit, I know now I had not but to feel this at the time was terrifying.

I reached out to humans during this time, though few could be with me in this intense experience. An old friend did some healing for me which was a great help, essentially though this was a process I needed to experience away from humans so what was I to do I was losing everything that was important to me.

The answer was intuitively clear to me I walked the land.  Here the intense emotions were soothed; I could breathe and was given answers as to how to go on I felt a peace I could not find in any other place and my struggles made sense somehow.

Two turning points came to me in this process

One day I was out on the land in much distress the weather mirroring my despair as it was pouring with rain and a dark November day.

I went to a place on the land that has become a strong place of power for me. It looks down onto a river that flows fast and nosily over the rocks. I stood high above the edge of a cliff. I really was not sure if I would jump or what I would do then suddenly I started to sing.

I sang and sang deep amongst the trees which is a practice that has developed in my healing work for what seemed like an age. In my song I found a balm that soothed me and by the time I finished I was transformed. 

As I left to return home, I felt a presence before me very clearly, I looked down and at my feet was a perfect roe deer antler. A magical gift from the forest. I was delighted and tears came into my eyes. This experience brought a strong hope back into my life. 

The second point came when I renounced all this nonsense and decided to live a “normal” life. This was the point of surrender and from that point on all started to reform and slowly a new way opened up for me still rooted in the land and with shamanism but in a new and very different way. 

In this process I had deepened into relationship with the new land where I live as it held and guided me through this immense challenge as all that did not serve was stripped away into the land that is indeed my place of greatest blessing.

This initiation was such a learning experience as I had a deeply rooted spiritual life that was pulled away to the bare bones and where did it lead me: to the land. The land called to me and I listened. 

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Now several years on from this and things have settled and reformed in a new way, nothing is seemingly different, however everything is different. I am still with my wife, I live in the same house, I have my work with shamanism, I am active in my local community, and I walk the land, all though in a very different way.

More connected and authentic and the relationship with the land has really opened up and deepened as a great support and companion in my life. 

The greater the challenge the greater the blessing and as with all experience’s they hold the potential to be of service to others once it is integrated and brought into my own story. 

The cycles of life go on within us all, as I deepen into an animistic way, I find a strength and joy as I walk the land and all now becomes community beyond the people in my life: the trees, the rivers, the animals, birds and plants I encounter in a reciprocal relationship. 

As I meet and see the land, I now know the land does meet and see me and feelings and sensations in my body teach me often without words but something changes within me. 

We do indeed live in more than a human world and we walk across and are witnessed by a living landscape each moment of our lives. 

This experience showed me the more I can deepen into this relationship with spirit the richer my personal world becomes and the more I can offer life in a meaningful way thus the balance is maintained. 

If this understanding and way of animism were remembered and re-connected with in a conscious way across humanity what kind of world would that be?

I have learnt all I can do is follow the impulse of my life beyond the fears I carry and that are offered to me this following brings me to a natural rhythm for my own evolution.

The ripples of this way of being though go beyond me and out into the community of all life touching all as I am touched by the ripples of others.

The more natural my own rhythm becomes it seems the more peaceful and fulfilling my life becomes as the ripples that touch me are mirrored back.

Though as I have shared, the journey is not always an easy one by any means, however what else can I to do but follow the impulse of my life and where it leads, I now know that as the challenges come so does the support and wisdom to guide me through. My task is to listen. 

Knowing I am not alone and learning about animism and other ways such as Druidry and shamanism as a way to relate to life brings me the strength and guidance to carry on in my connection to spirit whilst bringing a meaningful contribution to our society as a whole.  

Brian Anderson is a shamanic practitioner working for people, land and animals in central Scotland just outside the city of Perth where he offers 1:1 sessions, workshops and sacred activism events, he also is a member of OBOD. He sees shamanism offering new hope and vision for individuals as well as our society as a whole, for as we individually change, everything around us changes as well. Thus seemingly small actions have an impact on the collective. He loves the wild ancient and magical land where he lives and is inspired to deepen this connection and share this with others. To find out more about his work see www.oakenleaf.co.uk

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