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Maine's Mystics....

With my dad born and raised in Southern Maine we visited Vacationland at least once a year when I was young to see family and explore. He taught summer school, so our trip always happened the last week of June between the end of the school year and start of the summer session. My memories of visiting Maine, aside from loving the rides and games in Old Orchard Beach, was lots and lots of rain.

Can you imagine? Two adults, four children and sometimes a dog, crammed into a cabin or house, climbing the walls. It’s amazing we ever returned.

But we did return, year after year, and often ventured out to the lakes and up the coast  Moosehead Lake
to Boothbay Harbor, Rockland, Bar Harbor and Winter Harbor.  

Such spectacular beauty.

I’ve always loved the beach and was thrilled to move here 12 years ago. The ocean and coast were more beautiful than I remembered.

Monhegan coastlineWhat surprised me even more was stumbling upon a vibrant community of mystics and shamanic practitioners. Kind of like Alice falling through the looking glass into an alternate reality.

I’d dipped my toe into the mystical world on and off for years before relocating to Maine. One of the benefits of working at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health was participating in workshops on all kinds of topics: yoga, meditation, developing your intuitive abilities, creative writing, macrobiotic eating and shamanism (the practice of connecting to the spirit world to accelerate healing and transformation).

The shamanism workshop I participated in really got my attention and I started working with a shamanic practitioner, receiving healing, and even travelled to Peru. The trip felt like coming home and I still remember being surrounded by the soft, rounded mountains in the Sacred Valley and feeling held by them. It was palpable, the sense of being held by the mountains. I can’t remember ever having that feeling before about the land.

Each day in Peru we went to a different sacred site with shamans from the Cusco region who led us in ceremony. One of the shamans shared his belief that we’d all “sat around the fire” before, as in an earlier lifetime.  cropped shamans in peru

Makes sense to me.

I had a wonderful experience living and working in Stockbridge where Kripalu sits on a hill overlooking the Stockbridge Bowl, originally known as Lake Mahkeenac. Part of the reason I looked for a job there was because I wanted to work with like-minded people. People on the spiritual path and deeply committed to personal growth and transformation. I found that and more, making some wonderful friends, sharing tons of laughs and being exposed to new ideas and thought leaders and lots and lots of yoga.

I became part of a circle of smart and wise women, going to concerts at Tanglewood and dance performances at Jacob’s Pillow, hiking the Berkshire mountains, and swimming in the lake. Conversations over lunch and dinner ranged from the latest episode of Lost to energy healing, astral travel and past-life regressions. Juicy stuff.

So when I moved to Maine, I felt untethered from that rich community of seekers and yearned for connection to a spiritual community. After about a year I heard about a Winter Solstice ceremony and celebration led by Eva Rose Goetz so I showed up, knowing no one. In true shamanic fashion, Eva created a warm and welcoming gathering and I remember journeying — a core shamanic practice where you travel in consciousness to a different realm and connect with the spirit world — to the stars and planets and receiving a message about what the time of the Solstice was offering me.

After that, I knew I wanted to engage more deeply with shamanism and, as often happens when our heart and soul have a strong desire, within a month I heard about a shamanic practitioner named Dory Cote. Dory was leading an apprenticeship program teaching the Core Practices of Shamanic Work. I heard about the program on a Sunday, submitted my application on Monday, met Dory for the first time on Tuesday and started with the program on Saturday.

Everything in me knew this was the right path for me.

That was in 2011 and each year I’ve deepened my connection to Source/God through engaging with shamanic practices and gatherings with other practitioners. I love the way that shamanism is another layer of belief and engagement with Source that rests on the foundation of my Christianity. It doesn’t have to be an either/or proposition. My copy of Father Richard Rohr’s Universal Christ is rife with underlining and notes in the margins the likes of “YES! This is so shamanic!”

And the friends I’ve made!

Some of my nearest and dearest friends are part of a generous community of shamanic practitioners. There are hundreds of us here in Maine. Who knew??

Senior teachers like Dory Cote, Terry Morgan, Eva Rose Goetz, Evelyn Rysdyk and Allie Knowlton have guided and nurtured students here for years and years. Now, many of their students are teaching, offering a variety of healing services and honoring the magnificent natural world.

Making life in Maine richer as they share their light, this host of Maine mystics. 

What a gift to us all.

I’ll be pondering what it is about Maine that drew so many people interested in shamanism. Sounds like a good podcast conversation….hmmm…..

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