In a few days, I will be hosting John Lockley at both my home and my place of business again. This will be the third time I will participate in one of his workshops and the second time I am holding space for him as he does his teaching in the Syracuse area.
Why do I host John Lockley?
Because I believe in his medicine and I believe in his message. And I want him to get that medicine out to as many Westerners as possible. As a white South African with an Irish mother, he is the perfect liaison between Westerners and Xhosa Sangoma tradition — a living shamanic tradition. He brings us a way to understand and relate to this ancient indigenous tradition, a way to connect to our own ancestors and perhaps get a taste of what our own indigenous tradition may have been like before we lost it. Because this is a traditional shamanism, still culturally bound, it feels quite different from the “core” shamanism most white Westerners are used to. This is powerful medicine from an unbroken ancient lineage. At first it can be a bit uncomfortable, but I discovered that when I set ego aside and approached with a humble beginner’s mind, I was able to push through the discomfort and soon adjusted to this new energy.
At the first workshop held in Syracuse, the first in the Way of the Leopard series, John worked with some herbal dream medicine, “opening the road” to our dreams. It was a unique opportunity to learn from a Xhosa Sangoma about the use of a technique that is part of the White Medicine tradition of South Africa. This work helps people get dreams and visions in order to connect with their ancestors. It is safe (non-hallucinogenic) medicine, and I must share that since that event, my dreams (and my shamanic journeys) have been very vivid and powerful in their content.
The herbal mixture is also used as a healing bath, and John taught me how to prepare the herbs for use, and also to use them on my horse Saffron, who needed an energetic boost to her exhausted spirit after two years of fighting the spider bite complications. I am pleased to report that, at this writing, Saffron is strong and taking life in stride again. I know that the herbal wash played a large part in strengthening her immune system and building her physical condition back up. I find that I am stronger as well, ready again to take on the challenges that life throws my way. When I first placed my feet into the herbal footbath, difficult emotions came up for me (I had lost my Alf two weeks before), and it felt like the floodgates had opened and I might never stop weeping, but after a few minutes, I felt strangely calm and comforted, and I was able to continue throughout the weekend from a better, stronger place.
I am very much looking forward to the next installment of John’s teachings (Way of the Leopard: Ancestral Voices) on October 18-19 at Stone Totem Yoga Studio in Tully. If you are curious, why not stop into the RoseHeart Center in East Syracuse on Thursday October 16th at 6:00 PM to meet John and listen to him share a bit about Xhosa culture and spirituality? You won’t regret it.