When your job doesn’t always make sense to people
The nootka roses are blooming here, which I always take as the marker that summer has fully arrived. To celebrate, I updated my summer schedule through September and adjusted when I work to mostly revolve around the lunar calendar. This has been a long term life goal for me – working more around the new moon when I have the most energy and less or not at all around the full moon. Finally it is possible because of a wonderful little playschool that my toddler is attending. Great childcare is just one of the many blessings I am feeling this season.
If you have been feeling a pull toward some spirit world support and we have worked together before, you are welcome to book yourself in here:
If you are a first time client or aren’t really sure what I do or if we are a match, you can respond to this email to book a free 15 minute consultation or chat over a few emails.
If you aren’t sure what “spirit work” or “animism” is…I want to affirm that this is in no way your fault. I recently went to Calgary for a friend’s memorial. He was very loved in the electronic music community back in the day and didn’t want a funeral, so friends threw a dance party to celebrate him. It was fabulous and loud and I stayed up until 4 am, which is definitely the latest I have stayed up since becoming a mother. As I travelled there for the all night dance scene version of a high school reunion, I thought about how I might describe my job to old friends. I guessed that this crowd of motley artist psychedelic types would be familiar with shamanism and that word would be a clear job descriptor that would leave everyone with a solid idea of what I am up to.
For perhaps all the years that I have been doing this kind of healing work with clients, when someone asks what I do, I instantly start scanning for relatability…
Who is this person? What experiences have they had? How can I make this relatable? This ridiculous attempt to know a person’s life history and lexicon in the split second before I say something about my job has resulted in fantastic misses like:
Me: “I do ancestral work.”
Them: “Oh, you mean like genealogy?”
Me: “I work in Shamanism.”
Them: “What’s Shamanism?”
Me: “I’m a death doula, but I usually only work with people after they have died and I sometimes help the people who know them who are still alive and grieving.” (this one is particularly bad, I know)
Them: “Oh, so you work in a hospital?”
At this memorial party, someone wondered if I administered ayahuasca to people. Getting warmer, but no! Most other folks didn’t quite understand when I said I was a shamanic practitioner, so I went for a new one. Professional witch! For these friends that seemed to make sense and conversations flowed on.
The moment someone asks, “What do you do?” I go into a weird existential dance, reaching into the gap where words that are culturally sanctioned, that everyone shares should be or once were and I come up with fragments. I feel myself fall into a kind of hole between my calling and what has happened to my calling over history. My fingers sometimes brush other times where this particular role of a person who works across the veils and in between worlds was known, just like a teacher or a cook is known and this role was just part of where and how I lived and how my ancestors lived.
Christianization sought to erase the professions of my Scandinavian and Scottish ancestors who tended the dead, received information from the spirits of nature and deities on behalf of their communities, healed, and at times harmed with their skills. Each time I stumble for words I can feel what a thorough and violent transformation it was. It doesn’t just affect professional spirit workers – I believe that most people’s relationships with the earth itself and their own ancestors are still shaped by these old cultural wounds. I remember the dinner party where upon revealing that I worked with spirit guides, the woman beside me responded with, “That doesn’t exist. Your job doesn’t exist.”
When I ask my guides about the history of patriarchy and the church working systematically to discredit so many forms of feminine power and earth based power, they help me have a broader view of it, by looking at a much longer history. Spirit guides are so good at this, changing the lens. They say that now we are in a recovery and rebirth period. They remind me to choose the words that are right for me.
I remember a calling dream I once had. A calling dream is a dream that shows you the truth of your soul and something of your destiny. It calls your soul forward. In the dream I was doing similar to work to what I do now, in a very different land. It was so completely in harmony with my DNA, the place, and the time. It was as if my role grew from the land the way the trees did. There was not and had never been any other choice of who to be or what to do.
I woke up shaken. Probably shaking! I had never felt pure cellular certainty like that…ever. I didn’t catch what my job was called in that dream, though I am sure there was a word for it. The most important thing was that I just worked organically with the spirits and people came and got what they needed.
Today I still stumble awkwardly on my words and patchwork together witch, medium, spirit work, animistic healing, seidrworker (norse spirit practice) and shamanism (a word derived from a Tungusic language in the late 1600s), in abstract scores that might be confusing. Yet, people somehow find me and we work with benevolent spirits together in a way that is beneficial. I am so grateful for this and it is my prayer that the power and organic belonging of being in relationship with the land, spirits, and ancestors comes back to those who desire it.
Just Show Up
This drop in monthly practice group where you can come to connect with your spirit guides and ancestors is changing! We will have one more Saturday morning practice (Sat July 1 @ 9:30am PT), then will take August off and start up again in September with a new weeknight time. Stay tuned. Each month we work with a theme and direct contact with your own guides usually followed by some rich conversation.
A Sun Powered Practice
I recorded this brief meditation for the summer solstice, but it is a great practice for summer in general.
Save The Date
Tending the Writer’s Flame
November 10-12, 2023
Brooke Arnold-Rochette and I are offering an in-person weekend dive into writing and ritual.
Brooke is a nature-based ritual guide and celebrant and we have been weaving together beautiful practices and experiences to support writers for almost a year now. This is not your typical approach to writing, but it will help you get unstuck, move a project forward, and find or strengthen your voice!
More info coming soon.
1. Right Use of Power: Their next 4 day core training is in August. I LOVED this training and highly recommend it from anyone who teaches anything or has felt burned by abuse of power in their life.
2. Four Seasons of Indigenous Learning: A 2023-2024 online course with early bird registration until the end of June
6. Marlee Grace’s Creative Ideation Portal: I used this free tool multiple times and find it really helpful. If you are a creative human with many inspirations and little time, this is probably for you.
7. Cassandra Speaks: When Women Are the Storytellers, the Human Story Changes by Elisabeth Lesser has a good section on the history of patriarchy and more
I wish you all a joyous post-solstice time. May the light within you be felt, be known, and warm all parts of you.