The journey to becoming a mother is a deep experience. There is a yearning which, at times, is so intense it can feel like a physical pain. But you know that the ache goes beyond the physical – it is a hollering from your heart; a yearning in your soul.
I came to my fertility journey with years of academic training behind me. I had a raft of qualifications and had always prided myself on my cognitive abilities. When I wanted to do something I researched, processed the information, made a LOT of lists and then put a plan in place. So, when it came to infertility I spent endless nights of consulting with Dr Google; I filled notebooks with nuggets of expert advice; and I planned like a MOFO. But it just didn’t cut it. No matter how hard I worked to identify solutions, I still didn’t get pregnant.
And so I got desperate. So desperate that one night I literally lay on the floor of my study, surrounded by all my books, and cried “help me”. I wish I could tell you that there was a blinding light and an instant answer to my plea for assistance but there wasn’t! However, I did make a decision to step out from my comfort zone and be open to anything.
I have always had a ‘woo-woo’ side but that had definitely played second fiddle to the intellectual. Now I knew that my mind alone would not be able to get me to where I wanted to go and I wanted to explore that connection to a higher power. I started to read about what the major religions say about infertility and to explore traditional fertility goddesses and rituals. Immediately I felt less alone. It was really comforting to know that there was a whole history of women who understood what it was like to be desperate for a child and to see infertility recognised as a crisis of the soul that was worthy of being documented in sacred texts.
As well as the desk-based research (as we call it in academia), I tried some practical experimentation too and that is how I got to the shaman!
Shamanism is an ancient healing practice. The shamanic perspective is that, beyond our mind, we are all pure spiritual light. The shaman sees that healing comes through removing blockages and adding lifeforce to the inner space and shamanic healing is a way to supercharge your power and access guidance from the spiritual realm. The shaman sees with the heart rather than the head and looks to a different form of wisdom. It is said that the shaman is one who “sees in the dark” and, from the dark place that I found myself in, I know I needed that kind of help.
Shamanism believes that the soul is able to leave the body and travel to different planes of reality. There are various times that this may happen – including during dreaming and in order to protect the soul from trauma (we can understand this more therapeutically as dissociation). Shamanic journeying is sending out your soul intentionally in order to receive guidance and healing from the spiritual realm. In order to achieve this there needs to be a shift in consciousness – which is aided by the rhythm of a drum or rattle. A person then sets their intention and sets off to experience what the journey has in store for them. Usually there will be a special signal or drumbeat to call the journeyer to return.
Journeying appears to be something people have an innate capacity for – they just need to be reminded how to do it – which is why it can be useful to work with a guide to begin with. You are also likely to be dealing with some deep material so it is also useful to have an experienced person on hand to help you de-brief. For those interested in learning to journey a workshop can be a good way to begin and that is the route that I took.
On the day of the course we were introduced to the key concepts of shamanism which I found fascinating and then invited to take part in an experiential exercise. I didn’t know what to expect but, I had made a deal with myself to be open to everything, and so I dived in. This was quite literal as the image that came to me as I began was of being carried along by a strong current of water! The rest of the journey is still so vivid in my mind. I received a lot of really useful, and particular, information which assured me that I was on the right path and that I would be a mother.
That sense of calm and confidence was a game-changer for my fertility journey. I had a deep sense that everything was going to be OK and that I could trust myself and the process. I didn’t need to second guess or worry any more. Rather than being consumed by the anxiety in my head I could see things through my heart and know that I was surrounded by love.
Since that first journey I have taken many, many more! I have had some amazing experiences which have sustained me through some very tough times. It is now my privilege to share the wisdom of a shamanic perspective with others and to help them get pregnant too!