Shaman Diaries: The Journey, Pt. 1
I have a shaman, do you? Her name is Colleen, a blonde stylist-turned-spiritual-healer. She wears her mysticism like a black leather bomber jacket, effortlessly and without affect. She’s not your traditional shaman, an old Peruvian man in a mask holding the ayuhuasca bowl. She’s a modern shaman, the kind that appeals to women like me who enjoy horoscopes and dabble in crystals. But as a career-journalist and the daughter of a doctor, I never thought I’d find myself believing in and even recommending my shaman to my friends.
New age energy is trending right now. But the truth is, these are ancient practices and traditions. They’ve been used to explain the mysteries of the universe for thousands of years. In uncertain times, when civilization was beginning, they helped humans make sense (or at least create a story) of the world they lived in. They helped explain the great unknowns. It’s not wholly surprising that with the digital diaspora of connectivity and information we live in now, that we are coming full circle to seek answers and help make sense of a world that feels increasingly complex, where we don’t fully understand their place.
We feel unsettled, anxious, possibly unhappy, somehow not ourselves. But what can a doctor do to ease these symptoms? Is it all in our minds? Yes, it is. And yes, we want comfort and relief from this ambient gnaw. Some of us are so busy rushing through our lives that we don’t even stop to recognize how we’re actually feeling. So if a pretty crystal catches our eye and reminds us to release negative energy and think of love, that’s a good thing!
Anxiety and stress emerge when we can’t make sense of our circumstances. A curveball at work. A rug pulled out of from under a relationship. A path that isn’t clear. A seemingly impossible decision. Stories have always made us feel better. That’s why we read them at bedtime to children. They make the world make sense. We can rest easier knowing, or at least believing, that they are true.
HOW I MET MY SHAMAN
I met Colleen at The Wing, of all places. She was giving a talk about crystals and her journey to shamanism from the world of fashion. I was sipping frosé and catching up with a friend. But by the time she took the room of women on a shamanic visualization journey, I was hooked.
A shamanic journey is kind of like an out-of-body experience. The idea is that your spirit leaves your body with your shaman as guide. Colleen began shaking her shaman rattle rhythmically. I fell into a meditative trance-like state.
Imagine you are taking the elevator down to the lobby, she began. You walk out the door, turn right and head down the street towards Union Square. You walk down the stairs to the subway and catch a train to Brooklyn. The doors open, you step into the car. Someone is there. Who is the first person you see?
Colleen knows her audience and keeps it real. It’s a familiar journey. Nothing too out there. It’s easy to imagine because I’ve walked that path many times before. It feels very real. The first person I saw was an ex I had broken up with just the month before.
At the first stop, you get out, she continues. You reach the street. There’s a store in front of you–what kind of store is it? You walk in, notice what it looks like, details. There’s a proprietor. Who is it? They say something to you. What is it? They want to give you a gift. What do they give you? Is it wrapped? Can you take it with you or does it have to be sent?
I had drunk one frosé so I was feeling relaxed. I let my mind wander. I didn’t try to control my thoughts. My journey was super random, but I went with it.
I saw a candy store. The proprietor was Anna Wintour, my former boss. (Okkkaaaayyyy.) When I walked in, she turned to me and said, “Joyce, you deserve a treat.” She gave me a glass candy jar of sugared grapefruit slices as a gift.
Super weird. But I thought nothing of it.
As I left the event, everyone was invited to set an intention and take a tarot card. I wished for success in this next phase of my career.
THE SHAMANIC JOURNEY GETS REAL
When I hit the street and hopped in a cab, a text popped into my phone. My ex. We hadn’t spoken since we’d ended things over a month prior and here he was, the first person I saw when I left The Wing, just as I had seen in my shamanic journey.
The next day held more surprises. I was sitting at the hairdresser’s getting my hair cut when a DM popped into my Instagram. A famous athlete who I had in mind for the Get Go had reached out completely out of the blue. We knew of each other but had never met or communicated before. She had seen a photo of the frosé I had posted on my Insta. Later that afternoon, I got another text and subsequent phone call from a founder of a company I greatly admired to talk about a possible and hugely significant business opportunity. Also completely without warning or previous indication.
My mind was reeling. I called my sister to tell her about all the strange happenings that had occurred that day.
“Sister, something weird is going on with your energy,” she said. “You need to go get a lottery ticket right now.”
“What?” I replied. “I don’t even know where to get one! It’s 10 PM at night!”
“Just do it!” she said.
It seemed absurd, but also bizarrely, not so out of the realm. I hit the streets to look for somewhere nearby to buy a lottery ticket.
On Lexington Ave., I saw a NY State Lottery sign. In the window of a candy shop.
I walked in and saw clear vessels of candy lining the walls. In the corner, was a container of sugared grapefruit slices. I did the only thing I could do, I bought some sugared grapefruit slices just as I saw in the shamanic journey and some lottery tickets.
The next day, I checked my numbers. I’m sorry to report I did not win the jackpot–but I did win $5! I’ve never won money in my life. I took it as a sign.
The following week, I did indeed have a catch-up scheduled with Anna. I had returned from my travels and I wanted to ask her for an introduction and support for an idea I had.
I have great respect for Anna. Affection too. I have looked up to her my entire life. I dreamed of working with her when I was a young girl. But it goes without saying that she is particular and like any working relationship between two strong women, it’s not like we braid each other’s hair and eat gummi candy together.
That day, she had never been warmer. She helped me brainstorm ideas and offered to help in a myriad of ways.
As we said goodbye at the elevators, she stopped and said, “You look great, have you been doing yoga?”
Yes, I had re-upped my dedication to my practice! I’m not ashamed to admit it, a compliment from Anna hadn’t lost its charm for me, her support and friendship meaningful. It felt like a gift–a treat. Just as I had envisioned in the shamanic journey.
A SHAMANIC HEALING
I immediately emailed Colleen and set up a time to talk. She’s based in LA.
“Everything I saw in my shamanic journey came true,” I exclaimed incredulously.
I pressed her for meanings.
What did it mean that my ex was the first person I saw? Should we get back together? Why a candy store? What are the sugared grapefruit slices about?
Not everything has a literal meaning, she explained. Or an immediate tangible outcome. Sometimes they’re just signs to make you aware. Proof that there’s something out there for you. To keep looking for signs and follow them.
She added: But Anna Wintour is a first on a shamanic journey. I’ve never heard that before! But perhaps this is meant to be a healing.
“A what?” I asked.
Something that your journey can help you resolve, she answered.
Anna was a pivotal part of my career. She was someone who made my dreams come true. But also a part of the unraveling too of SELF.
It was true what Colleen had said. Seeing Anna that afternoon was a healing. It reframed a new story for me and a new beginning. One where I was energized from my travels, fueled by fresh inspirations and able to go back stronger for having left.
For more on Colleen McCann, check out StyleRituals.com. She offers crystal readings, shamanic healings, intuitive business consultations, closet cleanses and more.