I’m thrilled to witness the growing excitement around the upcoming First Steps Introductory Course – big thanks to all who have already joined. With the increasing interest, there have been quite a few questions about the course, so here’s my attempt to address them. I hope this proves helpful.
To jump right to a specific question, simply click on it:
- Sneak a Peek at the Intro Video: “What is Shamanism?”
- What is animism and how it relates to shamanism?
- How old is shamanism?
- What is shamanic journeying and where do we journey to?
- The Three Shamanic Realms: Lower-World, Middle-World and Upper-World
- Shamanic Guides – who are they and how do we meet them?
- Are shamanic realms real? Mythos and logos.
- Hollowing out from the stories we tell ourselves.
Sneak a Peek at the Intro Video Now!
WHAT IS SHAMANISM?
I received a lot of requests to provide more information about the format of the theory modules. As Carl Rogers says, experience is the highest authority. Therefore, I am sharing a sneak peek to the first video of the course: “What is Shamanism?”.
Four modules offer live sessions for dynamic engagement, while the remaining four, similar to this one, are delivered through recorded videos. It’s a balanced blend of live interaction and on-demand convenience for a comprehensive learning experience.
I hope you enjoy it:
01:37 What Is Shamanism?
07:00 Shamanism Is Part of Animism
10:21 Where Is Shamanism From?
14:58 How Old Is Shamanism?
20:50 a Direct, Personal Experience
26:54 Shamanic Reality
35:34 The Two Hemispheres of Our Brains
39:45 The Shamanic Journey
46:02 The Three Realms
55:31 Soul Loss
59:35 Symptoms of Soul Loss
01:04:15 Shamanic Soul Retrieval
01:05:48 Other Key Shamanic Concepts – Power Loss
01:14:07 What Is Shamanism For?
01:17:38 Why We Need Shamanism Back?
01:23:52 Therapeutic Shamanism
01:31:55 Back to the Word Shaman
Ongoing access and free course repeats
Ongoing access to the course
When you sign up for the courses, you have access to the recordings and the other teacher materials for life – life, of course, meaning for the life of the college. So as long as there’s a college running, and as long as the internet exists, you’ll have access to the recordings. So you can take as long as you want to work your way through a course, and you can come back to it and revise any bits of it as often as you want. It’s sort of like buying a book – once you bought the materials, you know, they’re yours and for as long as you want.
When we (re)run any course that you have done previously, you can sign up for the new version for free!
Payment in three instalments
Money, of course, can be a challenge. We try to keep the courses as low-cost as we possibly can, and all of us involved in the college live quite modestly. Remember that in terms of signing up for the courses, our website gives you the option of paying for courses in three monthly instalments at no extra interest. For the First Steps course, for instance, you can pay 80 pounds upfront or in three instalments of 26.6 pounds each over the next three months. I hope that helps.
What if I cannot join the live sessions?
You do not have to be able to attend the live sessions to sign up for the course, and to get a huge amount out of doing it. At the moment, probably around 50% of our students don’t attend live at all and of the 50% that do, probably half of those only attend some of the live sessions, so you do not have to attend the live sessions, to sign up for the course.
Having said that, obviously, the live sessions add even more and the people that do attend them tend to really value them and love them, which is why we keep doing, offering them really the live sessions. The feedback we get is that people love the experience of journeying together. They love the sharing of journeys. they learn a huge amount from listening to other people’s journeys, but more than anything, they value the discussion time and the sense of community and support and things that come with that. So the live sessions are great and they do add a lot. On the other hand, we have loads of people who don’t attend the live sessions and still keep booking on our courses, and still, we get fantastic feedback from them too. So don’t let not being able to attend the live sessions put you off.
The exact content of each module will vary, as tutors will tailor it to the needs and wishes of the participants. However, the basic structure is as follows →
Module 1 (live, and recorded): WHAT IS SHAMANISM?
After watching a pre-recorded talk – “What is Shamanism” – given by Paul Francis, the founder of the college, a chance for students to ask the tutors any questions that they have. Then a tutor-led guided shamanic journey to the Lower-World.
Module 2 (live, and recorded): POWER ANIMAL RETRIEVAL
Learn how to do a shamanic Power Animal retrieval journey. Or, for those who already have a Power Animal, a journey to receive shamanic healing. N.B. Sessions 1 and 2 will be delivered as a double live session.
Module 3 (video): DEEPENING THE BOND WITH POWER ANIMAL
Exploring what a Power Animal is and how to work with them in much more depth.
Module 4 (live, and recorded): HOLLOWING OUT MEDITATION
Module 5 (video): THE GREAT FORGETTING
Our separation, domestication and “the Fall”. Why we nearly lost shamanism and animism, and why we need them back.
Module 6 (video): SHAMANIC JOURNEYING FOR OTHERS
Lean the basics of doing shamanic healing for other people. Includes looking at interpersonal skills, healthy power-dynamics, and ethical considerations.
Module 7 (live, and recorded): GROUNDING PRACTICES
How to do a shamanic “burial” and/or tree journey. Plus, the basics of doing a “shamanic extraction”.
Module 8 (video): THE GREAT REMEMBERING
Module 9 (bonus video): Q&A SESSION
A bonus video (or videos) based on topics and issues that have been raised on the student forums, where the tutor will answer any questions and address any remaining issues.
🎁 FREE Audiobook Bonus!
Secure your spot, and we’ll gift you a complimentary audio version of my bestselling book, ‘The Shamanic Journey‘.
“This is the best book about Shamanism and shamanic journey that I have ever read. /…/ Book’s topics were well thought out and encouraged me to actually stop and do the exercises before reading on. Paul Francis’s writing is clear and sensible, and the exercises are clearly described. Truly, I cannot recommend this more highly.”
(form Amazon UK reviews)
How it works:
- Book the First Steps course today!
- Receive an email with your exclusive Spotify link a day or two before the course kicks off on January 7th
- Dive into your FREE audiobook and supercharge your learning experience.
This offer is exclusively available on Spotify for both free and paid users. Limited to new students only.
What is animism and how it relates to shamanism?
Animism is our original spirituality. Central to it is the experience that everything around us is alive and conscious. Animists didn’t just believe that things around them are alive and conscious – they experienced this. They also didn’t see humans as superior. Rather, animism has been described as a spiritual round table with no hierarchy.
Animists saw and experienced themselves as part of the ecology rather than apart from it. They felt other animals, plants, and even the mountains, rivers, and the land itself, to be kin − brother, sisters and cousins to them.
This feeling of being part of a whole is intrinsic to animism. That, as a human, you are a leaf on a twig on a branch, a part of the Tree of Life. As such, your job is to be a healthy leaf and contribute to the tree, rather than to declare your superiority or independence. Because the truth is, our health is dependent on being in a healthy relationship, a healthy ecology, with the other beings we share this planet with. That is a fundamental difference between animist cultures and the way most of us live today. These days, most people don’t see things like things like mountains, rivers and the land as being alive at all. Most people see plants as alive but not conscious (thankfully this too is starting to change, with a lot of recent scientific research showing we have completely underestimated just how conscious plants really are). We see ourselves as superior to animals. And so, we tell ourselves that we can use and exploit the world around us however we like.
In fact, this arrogance is making us profoundly ill. In shamanism, being cut off from nature is known as “Power Loss”. By “power” here, shamans don’t mean power-over, but life-force, vitality and health. From a shamanic perspective, as a result of our disconnection from nature we are living in a pandemic of Power-Loss. This is the fundamental and primary cause of our sickness.
Shamans were (and are) animists who were particularly good at experiencing the connection with our other-than human kin, to the extent that they could communicate with them. In doing so, a major part of their role was to help the tribe to keep living in respectful relationship with the world around them. In turning away from shamanism, we lost this healthy guidance and wisdom. We need it back!
How old is shamanism?
Shamanism is 35.000 – 189.000 years old. Too vague? It all comes down to how much ‘proof’ you need.
35.000 years old cave paintings
There are cave paintings in Europe, that date back to around 33.000 B.C. which are generally thought to depict shamanic practices. This would make shamanism at least 35.000 years old!
To put this in context, the oldest of the organised religions (that still exist in the modern era) are probably the Hindu and/or Jain religions which date from around about 1,700 B.C., so under 4,000 years old. This makes shamanism
vastly older than any of the existing organised religions!
80.000 years old yellow ochre rock ritual object
Could shamanism be older still? The problem with going any further back in time is that definitive evidence becomes scant. A piece of yellow ochre rock that had carvings on it had been found in the Blombos caves in South Africa. The proposal was that this object was probably a shamanic ritual object. Carbon dating put this carving back to around 75,000 B.C.. If this is indeed a shamanic object, then that makes shamanism nearly 80,000 years old!
100.000 years old ochre-processing area
In 2008, in the same cave, the remains of an ochre-processing area were found. Ochre is widely used in shamanic societies for body painting. This is rarely done purely for ornamentation and decoration but as part of sacred shamanic practices. This paint factory has been carbon-dated at around 100,000 years old.
189.000 years of homo sapiens existence
Interesting as these archaeological findings are – if you ask indigenous people how old shamanism is, they would generally say that we have been practising shamanism for as long as we have been human!
What is shamanic journeying and where do we journey to?
Shamanism tells us that there is another, deeper reality behind this day-to-day, physical one. Whilst shamanic people live with the sense of both ordinary reality and shamanic reality being side-by-side, there are times when they choose to deliberately and temporarily immerse themselves more fully in shamanic reality; to enter one of the shamanic realms and go on a shamanic journey.
In a journey, the shamanic practitioner can converse freely with non-human people, receive healing gifts and knowledge, and then bring this back to ordinary reality. In this way, as well as healing, a central role of the shaman is to act as an intermediary, and help us humans live in right-relationship with our other-than-human kin.
The Three Shamanic Realms: Lower-World, Middle-World and Upper-World
There is a broad consensus in shamanism that the shamanic realms are divided into three distinct areas – the upper-world, the lower-world and the middle-world.
In journeying, the lower world appears as pure, unspoilt nature. It is nature as it was before humans have messed with it. It’s a place of Oversouls – original blueprints for how things are meant to be – and healing.
is a place where we can go to get a bigger perspective on things; to ‘rise above’ petty concerns and problems; to get help with transcending our own ego concerns and limitations and to act more from our ‘higher self’.
is where we live and spend most of our time. It is here, this physical reality. It is the world of separation and individual identity.
Learning to journey involves learning to recognise the feel of each realm, and knowing what signs to look for, in order to know which realm you are in at any given point in the journey.
This is of crucial importance, especially because the middle world is not always being safe and is as such not a good starting point for learning shamanic journeying and shamanic practices.
Shamanic Guides - who are they and how do we meet them?
Working with Guides is important because it is not the shaman that does the healing, but their Guides working through them. In Therapeutic Shamanism, your first and foremost guide is your Power Animal. You are the apprentice, and your Power Animal is your principal teacher. Power Animal is not an individual but represents the entire species, embodying the oversoul of that animal. The reason for it being an animal is that it’s different enough to take you out of being human and connect you with nature and other beings. Once you establish this connection, you can develop other Guides, like hunter-gatherer Lower-World Human Guide or Upper-World Human Guide, work with a Tribe and other Animal, Plant and Stone People.
Are shamanic realms real? Mythos and logos.
It’s important to say that shamanic journeys are mythos, not logos; mythos meaning metaphorically true and logos meaning literally true. They are not to be taken as a literal, surface truth, but as something representing a deeper kind of truth.
Shamanic reality is as strange as quantum reality (in some ways, it is quantum reality). Our human brains simply are not equipped to be able to perceive it, understand it and process it as it really is. To make any kind of sense of what we are perceiving, we have to ‘clothe’ what we see in some kind of an image that we can make sense of.
We fashion shamanic reality into metaphors and symbols that we can relate to.
Shamanic journeys are like dreams. They are full of symbolic meanings, not literal truths. You cannot use them to find out ‘facts’. They are instead the realm of meanings, relationships and insights.
That being said – SHAMANIC REALMS ARE REAL, NOT IMAGINARY!
The rational, logical part of the brain may be more comfortable with thinking that the shamanic journey is simply imagination, somehow ‘made up’, a product of our neurological wiring; it is all just a subjective experience; all in the mind, hard-wired in.
But when people actually do journeying themselves, the more they do it, the more they experience that it goes way beyond any personal imagination.
Don’t take my words for granted!
As I have said, shamanism is about direct personal experience and not about an act of faith. So, whatever I say about my experiences, I only offer them as my experiences. I invite you to have your own experiences of journeying, and then you will find out for yourself whether shamanic reality for you is subjective or objective; real or imaginary.
Hollowing out from the stories we tell ourselves.
Only if we can step away from our attachments to our identity – the middle-world constructs we think we are – can we genuinely experience being something else, such as Yew Tree, or Panther, or one of the Stone People.
This is what shamans mean when they say that to become a shaman, ‘the past has to die’, or that we have to ‘die to the past’. The middle-world stories have to go. Or at least, we need to be able to step away from them when journeying.
We will do that by learning to hollow out. Hollowing-out means stepping aside from our day-to-day concerns as much as possible, and from our own agendas, drives, beliefs and preconceptions, so the healing Spirits can communicate and work through us without all that getting in the way. We need to hollow-out, or our journeys will be coloured, driven and distorted by our ego.
more free resources
2022 saw the birth of our free YouTube and Podcast channels. The plan is to focus on developing these much more in this coming years. If there are any topics you would like to see us cover in these, please do let us know.
I hope to see you on the course!
The course runs between January 7th and February 11th, 2024.
It is delivered via:
- Three live sessions on January 7th, January 21st, and February 4th. 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 roughly 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.
Flexible study. You get ongoing access to recordings, made of all the theory presentations, journey instructions, and Q&A discussions. Plus, once you have done a First-Steps course, you can do any subsequent ones as revision, free of charge.
AFTER THE FIRST-STEPS – LEARN SHAMANISM AND ANIMISM IN MORE DEPTH
January – February 2024: HEALING THE PAST, CHOOSING THE FUTURE. Healing family patterns, releasing ancestral burdens, and freeing ourselves up to better choose our future path. More details here.
March – April 2024: EXPLORING THE LOWER-WORLD. Go deeper still into the practice of Hollowing-Out. Find a truly Lower-World Human Guide, and maybe your Lower-World Human Tribe too. Discover the healing power of the Elemental Transformational Practices of Air, Fire, Water, and Earth. More details here.
June to September 2024. INNER TRIBE WORK. Shamanic Soul Retrieval and Parts-of-Self Work. Details to follow.
August – September 2024: DEEPER EXPLORATIONS IN THE LOWER-WORLD
Learn more vital shamanic techniques and practices. This includes an in-depth exploration of shamanic Extractions, De-possessions, Disentanglings, Expansions and Just-Being practices. Details to follow.