Home Sociology Cosmopolitanism, Nationalism, and Modern Paganism
The women’s group, often referred to by members as a sisterhood, sistren or tribe, was established about three years ago and meets for ritual each full moon. The group interacts frequently (with postings most days) through a Secret Group on Facebook which has 31 members, most of whom live in Malta. A significant number are not Maltese by birth. The only male in the Facebook group lives in Britain and was one of the three shamans who originally trained the group in Alberto Villoldo’s school. The group comprises mostly professional (some now retired) women who, as well learning from the British shamans and American Sandra Ingerman, have traveled extensively, lived and worked in many parts of the world (one worked for the United Nations), and experienced a wide range of spiritual practices in the course of their lives and journeys in such places as Peru, the United States, Scandinavia, Africa, India, Australia, Britain and Ireland. Although they follow the basic ritual structure taught by Villoldo, they feel free to adlib and freewheel, combining what they have learned from diverse sources with their own creativity, intuition and whim. The local and global are interwoven effortlessly. Thus, while their summertime full moon meetings are often held adjacent to Malta’s Neolithic temples—invoking a connection with these deeply important local sacred places—the animals invoked in that setting are not local (serpent, jaguar, hummingbird and eagle) and the animal spirits they meet in their personal shamanic journeys represent a global menagerie.
When seven of the group met at my home to share their stories, each told a unique story, but there were common threads, chief of which was the centrality of nature to their lives from a young age and an ongoing connection with the earth, animals and plants. “Nature is the true divine for me; I find all my answers in nature,” said one woman, who had once lived in Peru for three years surrounded by shamanic activity. Her compassion for animals as a child was such that she “did not feel any more important than a chameleon.” Another woman who had visited Peru for a nine-day retreat with an Inca shaman said, “Nature was my everything. Mother Earth heals you; Mother Earth loves you.” Another described trying many spiritual practices, but it was through shamanism that she “became aware of the power of earth. It is the same thing anywhere in the world ... the same Mother Earth.” This connection to the Earth and nature was the constant in women’s lives irrespective of where they lived or traveled, or from whom—shamanic school or tribal group—they learned. There is only one Mother Earth, one Father Sky, one Grandmother Moon and one Grandfather Sun.
Other recurring themes in women’s stories were the importance of healing and working with energy (especially for a doctor in the group), connecting with alternate realities and “a bigger world” via the shamanic journey, and an enormous appreciation for the group itself. One who had explored different spiritual practices all over the world said:
I came to realise the sameness in all practices, whether it was Druidism in Wales and Devon and Cornwall, or whether it was the Native American, or whether it was in Peru, or in Russia, or Australia ... with all the indigenous people there was such a similarity. I thought to follow the thread of truth that runs through all of that. When I look back at the history of my path, it was learning more about love, understanding my love connections to the earth, the stars, as well as all other realities and all of us.
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