I’m thrilled to have author K. A. Laity joining us today. Comment below to be entered to win an ebook copy of her non-fiction collection Rook Chant: Collected Writings on Witchcraft & Paganism (suitable for most ages).
In my novel Owl Stretching, I describe the main character Ro as an ‘accidental’ shaman. What I mean by this is someone who has not been mentored in the art and remains completely ignorant of the practice—until she finds herself journeying in an alternate reality.
Although Ro’s story has a lot more to do with her bad choices (not taking responsibility, in fact doing her best to avoid conscious rationality as much as possible), when she accidentally meets the creature who will become her guide and mentor—a magpie from hundreds of years before her time—curiosity gets the better of her and she begins to seek out questions without knowing where to look.
She turns to her librarians. In the Google era, much has been said about the superfluity of libraries, but as Ro figured out, knowing what questions to ask was as important as finding answers. Often when we have experiences that are difficult to explain or describe to others—that sound wrong or crazy or impossible when we try to put them into words—it’s difficult to know where to turn to find answers.
Ro is a liminal figure: someone who stands between things as shamen and shamankas often are. She has a fluid sexuality, she doesn’t identify for or against things that people feel she ought to do, but feels a dissatisfaction with her life. Ro worries that there is something significant missing from her life; never mind that her best friend has been in a coma for ten years—oh, and did I mention that there’s also an invasion of aliens that are anything but friendly.
If you’re reading this site, you already have some idea of the journey ahead of you if you choose to follow a shamanic path. When I first received formal training in shamanic practice, I was amazed to find I had already learned many of the skills without a mentor to guide me (which meant I had some poor practices and little in the way of protection).
I think creative writing in particular (though to some extent, all the arts) offers similar skills to shamanic journeying. Diving deep into the unconscious, finding threads to follow and returning with the story needed—whether you’re helping someone to heal or constructing a fictional world, the skill needed is the same. The more you’re conscious of it as a practice, as an art, the more you are likely to respect the work you do and value the gift you reveal.
The intoxication of the journey should not overwhelm the power of the story you bring back. Stay connected, practice with discipline and build your strengths. No one else can tell the stories that lie within you. It’s your job to locate them and bring them to the light.
K. A. Laity is the author of novels like White Rabbit, Owl Stretching, Pelzmantel and many more stories, plays and non-fiction works. Over at Witches & Pagans, she’s the History Witch, currently translating the Viking wisdom poem Hávamál with commentary. Find her on her website or Amazon Author Page, Facebook, G+, Goodreads, History Witch at Witches & Pagans, Scribd, Soundcloud (audio), Twitter and Wattpad.
Comment below to be entered to win an ebook copy of her non-fiction collection Rook Chant: Collected Writings on Witchcraft & Paganism(suitable for most ages).
Available worldwide, Teen Spirit Guide to Modern Shamanism.