In this time, when the stability of our lives has been shown as the fragility it always is, I have been acutely aware of the circle of humanity we each sit amongst. As I walk the land, listening and observing with nature, there is no lockdown. It’s spring here in Scotland, and life emerges as the earth breathes out. This is a human issue, and yet, as we are all connected, it is an issue for our home the earth too.
We each respond in our own way to this challenge, for some with already difficult lives, this lockdown will add to the challenges they already face. For others, we need to lean into this circle and receive its holding, and others still are able to send a pulse around the circle of love, blessing and strength. These places are not fixed, we move in and out constantly as life unfolds. It’s always been this way – it seems to be the nature of human life.
Our stories, when understood then integrated and listened to, can serve as a medicine for ourselves and others. Here I would like to share this story, of a journey through these places I describe, that I took with a different virus.
Somewhere in the early 1990s I came into contact with a virus. This virus had life threatening potential, and I know of others that died from this encounter. I lived under the spell of this virus for a number of years-“yes but” or “what the point I am going to die anyway! “I have this virus” became my mantra to any encouragement to change which I deeply needed too.
I was a victim to this virus. Then, towards the end of the decade, and flirting with the idea of change, I met a women at the hospital I was under who was an art therapist. Her name was Meghan. Such was the unmanageability of my life at the time that I was unable to keep to appointments with other professionals, except my sessions with Meghan. For some time, I attended a group each Monday, to do art therapy. Something about her way of holding me and understanding me offered me hope.
One day I attended, and she was not there. The class carried on, I sat wondering where Megan was. Then the other therapist announced that she had died in the week, she had cancer for some years and now was dead. I will never forget Megan and the memory of her kind and powerful way, even while facing her own death. And in her death, she somehow inspired me to live. In some way, we were in similar places, facing our mortality, though she at that time dealt with it in a very different way.
Within a year, in 1999, my willingness to leave behind my current way in the world met grace and mystery, and I found the courage to step into another way. My own spirit awoke, and everything from then was different in the way I met the world, seemingly overnight.
Though fruit only takes a moment to drop, and an age to ripen. As my healing unfolded and my life opened up, I was still with this virus, and it was debilitating. One day I got a phone call to help someone. The words came out, “I am too tired”. Then I put the phone down, within a minute I called back and went to offer my help. Maybe inspired by Megan’s example.
While out, I met a woman who was a homeopath, and I received a session and the remedy I was given gave me the energy to resource myself. A transformation was occurring, I then learnt about this virus. Then I started a support group. Then I was asked to do training to professionals. Then I became a consultant to drug companies, as a patient liaison, and before long I was being paid and taken all over the UK lecturing about this virus and how to live well with it.
As my life evolved because of this virus, so did the treatment offered, and what was once ineffective and harsh, had grown into still quite a thing but way more effective. It was time for me to enter medical treatment for this. I took six months off work, and went through the treatment program – a form of chemotherapy.
I was supported by my spiritual life, and met with a shamanic practitioner during this time. On one occasion, he asked me to journey to the virus and ask “what it wants from me?” I already had a understanding of the life lessons it was teaching me, so was open to this and journeyed to this virus with the suggested question.
I met another life form that had consciousness and intelligence. It was part of the circle of life. It asked something of me, which was to tell my mother I loved her, I did this. When I returned to the hospital for my weekly blood tests, the virus could not be detected and to this day is not with me. My journey with the virus was complete. I handed my work over to the next generation coming through and my time with this virus came to a end.
The language in the UK currently is of war, battles and defeating this virus we are now all affected by. What if we let it into the circle, and listen to what is has to say? When I talk of community I see it as the trees, the plants, animals, insects, all life in this one circle that is life. The virus is alive and with consciousness, so we can communicate with this, it too sits in this circle.
All things are connected, and through recent fires in the Amazon, the lungs of our earth have been damaged. And now here we are with a virus that has a impact on our respiratory system.
My medicine story speaks of a time of being afraid and falling under the virus spell, but then educating and listening to what it had to say became an empowering experience for me and others. This current virus sits with us In the circle, what does it have to say? What does it want? What can we learn? For this time, both personally and for the collective good – and then how can we feed this learning back into the circle?
Animism offers a different response and relationship with all life. Yes, I will do all I can to look after my wellbeing, though we all sit as one circle: human, tree, stone, plant, virus. My greatest learnings have come by challenges and times when I have either caused harm to another, or received harm from others and then making amends.
I offer a blessing to these times. Through listening and learning, a possibility of peace emerges, and we can open to growth. Great burdens offer great blessings. In the circle we all sit as equals – yes with different roles to play, but all is an expression of life and is alive, my connection to animism offers this to me.
Maybe we can re-frame the situation and as one circle, we social distance as an act of love for another. This lockdown is a retreat for wellbeing. We isolate to protect ours and others health and wellbeing. This is our choice, we are getting through this unique time.
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