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Any in-depth energy medicine needs an understanding of the energy systems of the human body. Consequently, understanding the different energy bodies (spirit, soul, mental, emotional, and physical) and their interconnectedness is a key building block of shamanic practice. This knowledge includes the various energy centres within the body (chakras), their formation, properties, relationships with one another, and their influence our mental and emotional states. These energy centres also serve as blueprints for the physical body too, and so imbalances in them can lead to physical disease.


Chakras are energy centres that form our energy body, and the blueprint for our physical body too. They regulate all the different aspects of us – physical, emotional, mental, soul, and spirit – and how these interact. Each chakra is associated with specific qualities. Seven and located along the spine and the skull. In turn, five of these are associated with the five elements of ether, air, fire, water, and earth, and govern our physical organs, tissues, and other bodily functions, and our mental and emotional states too. Together, they form our sense of “self”. Others go beyond the physical body, and beyond our “self”. Some connect us to the Lower-World, to the larger and other-than-human web of life, to our Soul, and to Mother Earth herself. Others extend above the body and connect us to the Upper-World, and to Spirit itself. 

There are different versions of the chakra systems in different cultures. There isn’t one “right” system, they are just different ways of looking at the same thing. Some align more than others with animist thinking and practices though. Below is an animist version, the one we use on the Tree of Life course…

The Spirit Chakra serves as the bridge between our physical existence and the realm of Spirit. It connects us to the Father Sky and the Upper-World, helping us tap into healthy detachment, gaining perspective and nurturing the witness aspect of ourselves. Its color is white, symbolizing purity, clarity, and spiritual illumination.

Together with its Lower-World aspect, these two centres form the Soul energy field, an energy field or aura around the physical body, and the unique blueprint of our authentic self. This Upper-World aspect of Soul also connects us to Spirit.

The Crown Chakra is located at the top of the head. Its colour is violet, symbolizing spiritual connection, and its shape is often depicted as a flower. The crown chakra resonates with mantra “Om”. 

The Brow Chakra, also known as the Third Eye, is situated in the center of the forehead. It represents our self-identity, intuition, and connection to upper realms. This chakra governs our mental health, spiritual experiences, and the integration of wisdom into our daily lives. Its indigo colour reflects its deep spiritual nature, and its shape is often represented as a prism. The mantra “Om” aligns with this chakra, and its associations include various animals.

The Throat Chakra, located in the throat area, focuses on our communication and self-expression. It enables us to speak our truth, express our emotions, and share our ideas with clarity and confidence. This chakra holds the power of truthful expression and the ability to listen deeply. Symbolized by a blue flame, it encompasses the ethereal nature of sound and resonance. It resonates with the mantra “Ham”, and is associated with various animals and the sense of hearing. 

Located in the heart or mid-thoracic area, the Heart Chakra governs our ability to give and receive love, compassion, and forgiveness. It encompasses our thoughts, ideas, and values, as well as our sense of self-worth and trust. The Heart Chakra holds the power to heal emotional wounds and connects us to our deeper desires and plans. Represented by the green colour (sometimes pink), it takes the form of a nurturing bowl. Its energy resonates with the mantra “Yam”. Heart chakra is associated with birds and is connected to the sense of touch. 

This chakra, positioned at the umbilicus/solar-plexus region, represents our personal power, motivation, and confidence. It is the centre of our willpower and our ability to take action. This chakra fuels our desires, drives, and decisions. With its bright yellow colour and conical shape, it ignites our inner fire and directs us on our path. The essence of this chakra is embodied in the sound “Ram”. It is associated with hunter animals, symbolizing focus and determination. 

Located at the sarco-lumbar junction, the Sacral Chakra is closely tied to our emotions, creativity, and sensuality. It governs our desires, pleasures, and our ability to nurture ourselves and others. It is associated with the orange colour and is visualized as a vibrant sphere. The mantra that resonates with its energy is  “Vam”. Just as water flows, this chakra allows us to connect with the fluid aspects of our emotions.

The Base Chakra, located at the coccyx, is associated with grounding and our sense of security. It connects us to the physical realm, reminding us of our place in the world. Its themes are survival, belonging, and the practical aspects of life such as work, home, and finances. Its colour is red, and its shape is a cube. The Base Chakra is connected to the sense of smell and is often associated with herbivorous animals. 

The Foot Chakra is located at the soles of our feet and serves as a direct connection between our physical bodies and the Earth. It provides a solid foundation and anchor, helping us feel stable and grounded. It is also the gateway to the Lower-World, to our Soul, to the larger web of life, and to Mother Earth herself. 

The Soul Chakra is the place of our Soul, our true and authentic essence. Our Soul is the blueprint for the unique being that Mother Earth intends us to be. A being that is both individual, and an interconnected part of a larger whole – the larger web of life. 

The Earth Star Chakra goes far beyond our “self”. It is our connection to the nurturing and healing energies of the planet, to the shamanic Lower-World, and to Mother Earth herself. It brings a profound sense of interconnectedness; that we are part of nature, not separate from it. 

chakras chart

Remember, these descriptions serve as a general overview of the chakras. Each individual's experience with the chakras may vary, and it's important to explore and understand your own energy system on a personal level and it's what we do on the Totem Pole course.

Techniques to Balance and Align the Chakras

There are numerous techniques and practices that can help restore balance and alignment to the chakras. Some common methods include:

Meditation: Regular meditation, focusing on the specific chakras, can help activate and balance their energies.

Yoga and Other Physical Practices: Practising things like yoga asanas (postures) that target specific chakras can stimulate and restore their flow.

Breathing Exercises: Utilizing specific breathing techniques, such as alternate nostril breathing, can help clear and balance the chakras.

Sound Therapy: Listening to specific frequencies or chanting man

Shamanic Practices: These are what we learn on the Totem Pole course, gradually ascending through the energy centres, exploring each in turn, finding helpful Animal, Plant, and Stone teachers, and more, along the way. We start deep in the Earth and continue up to the Sky, connecting the three realms together – Lower, Middle and Upper – and bringing all this into a richly-embodied and physically-connected experience. In doing this, we build our inner totem pole. Our unique “tree of life”, with deep roots, a strong trunk, and branches connected with the sky.


Our energy system is closely connected to the five elements – Earth, Water, Air, Fire, and Ether. In animist teaching, these 5 elements are fundamental aspects of the universe and shape and influence all existence. The Earth element represents stability and physicality, Air symbolizes movement and communication, Fire embodies transformation and energy, Water signifies fluidity and emotions, and Ether represents the intangible and transcendent aspects of existence. Together, these elements form a holistic understanding of the natural world and the human experience.


The chakras run through our body like a tree trunk. They branches form roots that extend below the physical body, reaching deep into the earth and even further still, into the Lower-World itself. Similarly, they also can stretch above the physical body, connecting us with the sky and the Upper-World. This energy system, resembling a tree with deep roots, a sturdy trunk, and branches that reach for the sky, is often referred to as the Tree of Life.

Totem Pole

Each of these individual centres in the body can be represented in animal form, so visually it can look like a totem pole. “The problem with the term “totem pole” is it’s a specific cultural reference. It largely comes from native North American cultures. I’m not of that heritage, so I’m not qualified to teach that aspect or application of it. Sometimes I use the term Totem Pole just because that’s the term people are most familiar with initially. But my preferred term is the Tree of Life, because it’s not culturally specific. The knowledge itself is cross-cultural. It’s not from a particular culture.” 

What our animist ancestors always did was to take this core knowledge and these core practices and then apply them in a very pragmatic way to the times and the environment they lived in.

Chakras and totem pole

“In history, as we start to lose our way as a species and start to develop writing, our relationship with knowledge gradually becomes much less personal and direct, and more prescriptive and dogmatic instead, and based on external “authority”. So somebody writes down: “This chakra relates to this specific gemstone” and people kind of go: “Oh right, so this chakra is that gemstone” and it becomes an accepted “fact”. The problem is, it’s really just one person’s idea and experience, and often just culturally specific too.”

“Instead, I try and be less prescriptive and more empowering. My approach to teaching is to try to help people explore for themselves, to give people enough information to get started. My hope then is their shamanic practice will be more based on their own experience, and what is right for them personally.”

This way, what you build is your own inner totem pole, personalized according to your own experiences and teaching from your own guides rather than from me, which is always how it should be.

So rather than saying, for example, the water chakra is this particular animal, on the course we look at how to find what animal is going to be the best water animal for you. What is the particular water animal that you need to help with your water imbalances?

And the same with plants and with stones and so on. We start off with some basic principles, enough to start exploring, then people will be able to make it their own.




Shamanism, Chakras and the Human Body

The Totem Pole (Tree of life) course consists of 12 pre-recorded theory sessions and 8 two-hour long live sessions.

Theory pre-recorded sessions will be released on or before:
July 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, Aug 5, 12, 19, 26, Sept 9, 16, 23 

The live (experiential/community) sessions:
July 8, 15, 29, Aug 5, 19, 26, Sept 16, 23. 
They will be 2 hours long, and start at 2pm (UK time).

  • Explore the shamanic teachings about the human energy body.
  • Understand the properties of each chakra (energy centre), starting below the feet, and working up through the body.
  • Journey to discover animals, colours, shapes, plants, and stones associated with each chakra for healing and deeper connection
  • Build your personal inner ‘totem pole’ through this process.
  • Explore the relationship between the human energy system, mental and emotional issues, and the physical body.
  • Understand the connections between physical dis-eases and their underlying energetic, emotional, mental, and spiritual issues.
  • Develop a deeply grounded and physical, somatic connection with your shamanic experiences and practices.
  • Learn the indigenous, animist five-element system, of ether, air, fire, water, and earth.
  • Exploring the role of food, herbal medicines, and flower and gem essences in energy healing.

    … and much more

Reading time: 11 mins

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The essential, low-cost introductory course for anyone wishing to explore this approach. 

Dates: January 7th to February 11th, 2024.

Course Structure
The course is delivered via: 

  • Three live sessions on January 7th, January 31st, and February 4th 2024. The live sessions start at 2pm (UK time). The first is 3.5 to 4 hours long, and covers the first two modules (described below). The second and third live sessions are 2 hours long. All are recorded, for anyone who is not able to attend them live.
  • An additional five pre-recorded modules, delivered by video and accompanying learning materials. These are released at weekly intervals as the course progresses. 
  • A website discussion forum and (an optional) Signal group, where students can ask questions, discuss topics, share experiences and additional resources, and get support, encouragement, and a sense of community.
  • A bonus video, answering students’ questions and offering additional teaching.