Tales of Death – and the making of life.
Angie shares her journey as a modern medicine woman.
Angie Litvinoff is a Medicine Woman, Ceremonialist and Mentor.
You can find out more about her Ceremonies, Rites of Passage, Sacred Woman Path Training, Shamanic Journey Groups and Mentoring on her website. www.angielitvinoff.com/You can also find her on instagram @angie_the_medicine_woman
A form of death – a total crumbling away of ego, identity and experience is common in people who journey on the shamanic path. The extent of this process, which goes so deep, is so painful and frightening is felt deep within the soul, a transformation of the most extreme kind as the very core of the being is sent out, far beyond reach, and regroups and clusters forming a new person.
This spiritual death has happened to me so many times, the first time I was just seven years old, and whether I had wanted to or not – created something in my consciousness so as to have me walk into life with an energy and perspective I quickly identified as my very own. Dangerous life situations where I have been at the point of death, had my life threatened, stood with no defences as well as immense initiations and purposeful ceremony and beautiful rituals have all been part of the many times I have died. Some of these deaths have broken me completely, and some have taken me to places in different realms of consciousness where I needed to think quickly and navigate through feelings and sensations which opened me up and showed me greater depths.
When you look at things from a unique perspective – it’s so good to LISTEN to everything that gives you support and guidance. Not people so much, but situations, feelings and thoughts, the vibration of what is guiding you.
When I was very young, I was initially unaware I was experiencing many signs and messages about my path and life, they just seemed to be life in a series of shocks. Once I realised some strong signs were showing themselves it felt overwhelming, and the journey started partly as one of denial. Despite all of life’s best efforts to despatch me on a quest, it felt difficult to know where to start. Although I had no desire to fit in, I couldn’t access what the alternative might be, a world I didn’t realise existed outside of me!
First of all and important in the story, there was immense sadness and loss in my formative years, I was born into a military dictatorship in Chile and became a child immigrant to the UK. I was a solitary child with huge resources including imagination, intuitive abilities and empathy. It was wasn’t until my late teens that I began to ground, and realised that certain beautiful things I took for granted just came to me with no effort at all. Art, writing and empathy amongst them, I just couldn’t stop creating, just like then I still have many ideas daily, whatever I am doing the ideas are there, flowing, constantly. There were times I had nothing, but as a creative a blank canvass is how I start everything.
Shamanism began to obviously appear to me all the time, I never looked for it, shamanic teachers, lessons, initiations, some very beautiful experiences, a creative process of merging emptiness with form appearing to me, a bridge, and a conduit from different worlds and realms. Essentially the understanding that creation runs through all that we are, inside and outside and that we are but a mere part of something greater, which brings us together constantly.
Also in my late teens, I sat for an interview at the London School of Economics for a degree in Social Anthropology and never made it through their door again, I was hit by a huge personal crisis which took me deeper into myself and in an effort to give denial one final loving try, I lost myself for a while.
Still grounding, I began to join the clues together, that I had to create my own path of self acceptance that it was taking me somewhere completely unconventional, with no clear reference points to the world I had been part of until now. Its clear to see now, and if you connect to your own journey, some of this may sound so familiar, it is the path of the medicine person, although my own modesty, lack of self worth through having had so much taken from me, integrity and humility kept saying, really, me, why? In a society constantly asking people to fit in, self-doubt easily comes and imposter syndrome easily appears when you have yet to gain confidence. I was always being singled out, it was clear I was never going to blend in!
A few years later I started making up for lost time, I experienced another shamanic death, and WOKE UP. I threw myself into study until I had no more room in my brain and then assimilated it all and began the deliberate process of letting it all go. I did this because I knew that if we never connect to our own deeper understanding, other people’s interpretation of what one should be produces limitations to our path and potential as individuals, and I decided to create my own craft and interpret how I should best use the tools. The way that came easily, that I had resisted, and with relief I now accepted fully that some things just are, and these things are GIFTS.
I started emptying my cells of experiences and limiting beliefs so that I could navigate more easily between dark and light, find my voice, gain my confidence, different worlds, rhythms, pulses, seasons and connect to freedom and flow.
There are aspects when a soul regroups after shamanic deaths, that continue as the same but overall something extraordinary happens, an opportunity to be more substantial, like the glue bonding the pieces rather than highlight what is broken actually brings greater levels of strength.
Cauldron of Changes
Cauldron of Changes
Feather on the bone
Arch of Eternity
Ring around the stone
We are the old people
We are the new people
We are the same people
Wiser than before
Our identity as creatives is instrumental in the way we choose to connect to the world. When you can tangibly connect with what and who you are, the desire to enhance that inner dialogue and make that outward creative expression of soul allows you to FLY. Medicine in life, in a shamanic sense, blends with identity and includes all of me/ all of you, in my case it blends; immigrant, pioneer, artist, shamanic being, writer, facilitator, visionary, ceremonialist, conduit, and lover of self expression and life.
In a society that is based on fear, becoming public about what I do was a ‘coming out’ process. The resurgence of ceremony a welcome presence and greatly assisted me in connecting to what I felt most identified with. Ancestral wisdom whether of your heritage or one you choose to identify with is not only essential for grounding your perspective but also for beginning a relationship of appreciating what has sustained the planet and our place in it and bring awareness to us about our contribution to the now and the future. Ancestral wisdom is love.
My process of getting rooted and grounded – qualities essential in my life as a medicine woman – began by embracing my new life in the UK and embracing myself in my skin, as a simultaneous partnership. As my cells responded to drinking this water and eating this food and being nourished by this energy of this land, being rooted here in the UK as well as Chile meant that as a traveller I embraced the connection that different lands bring to us all, one of being in harmony with a greater sense of belonging.
And it is this that has made me aware of the very fine line between respect and squander, spiritual tourism and lack of awareness. We in the west are so good at taking things and not giving them back, sometimes until there is very little left in the beautiful places where they came from, be it sacred plants, crystals, foods, landscapes, indigenous practices, ideas, identity. The assumption is that taking is somehow ok, being awed by whatever it is the latest thing is, we constantly fail to ask the planet, people and places if we should, if the time is right, if we need it at all and if we really need it en masse. We are all global citizens but this includes respect of the sacred.
A question I ask often is how about starting right here, giving space to discover what we have at home? Its so easy to dismiss what is right in front of us, the trap of the spiritual tourist to assume that profound life change can only occur somewhere else. By connecting FIRST to the power of where you stand, get grounded and find wisdom is where the key to the magic is, authenticity, pure vibration and truth. Your shamanic guide may even life in your hometown!
I know that if you are serious about engaging with the medicine of life, you will find the courage to step beyond experiences reliant on hard physical sensations and instead connect to a greater subtle realm of awareness. It is comparable to knowing that in healing a light touch can be as profound or more powerful than a deep prod. The energy or essence of pure vibration has the message, it can teach us and bring us to powerful experiences and growth if you know where to look and be open to responding and receiving. It doesn’t mean we don’t honour or observe spiritual practices from elsewhere, it just means we are mindful of when and how, and find a way to give back.
Sometimes one experience can last a lifetime. Pure vibration when properly explored, is about aligning us to total understanding and subtle connection, bringing its own profound knowing, and this I would encourage everyone to explore, its totally beautiful. It still blows my mind that vibrational medicine is available to us as a cosmic gift, with the blueprints of everything, it is possible to experience shamanic medicine in this way and I often do.
I find the relationship between embracing creativity and self expression an integral part of my life, and so the medicine for me is also constantly celebrating rhythms and cycles, beginnings and endings, death and rebirth, self-expression and evolution of soul. Whatever makes you happy, makes your heart sing, liberates you from dogma, connects you to nature, and opens your heart. I don’t look to any one way for an answer, the divine feminine for me is about creating meaning in a way which is intuitively unique, makes sense right now and has the intensity of all it represents behind it, giving it vitality, wisdom and force.
The tools I use these days are few, they are there to support a process of becoming, which has to be as free as possible. And so, through ceremony, rites of passage, mentoring, shamanic journeys, I hold the space and intention so you engage with the present and so you become the creator for yourself, enabling you to grow, get empowered and ground the wisdom you gain along the way. It is the most raw and honest expression of soul I can offer, after more than 20 years, it is with deepest gratitude that I can say this.
Being a medicine woman is the creative process of connecting to essence. This life for me is about embracing the soul journey, life and death, and assisting those who feel it too, not forgetting humour, fun and laughter.