I grew up in Liverpool in the 1970s, the youngest of six. As a child, I loved being outside. We had a big garden and I spent a lot of time outdoors with my dad – looking back now, this is definitely where my love of nature began.
During the 1980s I went to work in London for the summer and ended up living there for 18 years. I attended university there, worked in various pubs and clubs, and eventually became a qualified youth and community worker.
I also lived in Sweden for a year as part of my undergraduate degree, learning the language and falling in love with the forests and the spectacular landscapes.
When I was 28, I travelled around South East Asia and ended up in Chiang Mai, Thailand for a year. I studied with the SunDo Taoist School with a pupil of Master Hyunmoon Kim. I also met and studied with Daniel Read, the author of ‘The Tao of Health Sex and Longevity’, a book that had an enormous influence on me. The Taoist practices I learnt in Thailand changed my life forever.
In 2006, I began my three-year training in shamanism with Alberto Villoldo. Alberto has written many books of his travels and apprenticeship with the Laika tribe in Peru. This initial training was beyond description and blew my naturally sceptical mind out of all it's limiting beliefs.
I immediately decided to leave London and travel the world studying the shamanic remnants of the past. I went to South Africa and found a teacher there who took me meditating in caves with ancient wall art. I travelled on to Australia, and sought out the wisdom of the aboriginal people in museums and exhibitions; I then went to the smaller, remote Polynesian islands and found ancient standing stones and tattooed natives.
I travelled on to Los Angeles and then drove through the deserts of California, Arizona and New Mexico, finding out as much as I could about the indigenous people of those lands. I fell in love with the landscape and the stories of the old ways.
Finally, I travelled to Canada and soaked up the cosmology of the tribes of the Northern natives.
As I travelled, I found that animism - the experience that everything is alive – and shamanism – the spiritual practices of animists – were to be found the whole world over. I was fascinated, yet saddened – why did my society not educate me in this? Why have we lost this power and connection with nature? How can we bring it back and start living in right relationship with our beautiful earth again?
Upon my return, I trained as a yoga teacher at the Sivananda Ashram in the mountains of Tyrol in Austria. I started to teach yoga and also got a job as an Oral Historian for National Museums Liverpool, collecting hundreds of life stories.
I continued to study with Alberta Villoldo, travelling to Holland, Germany, Peru, Bolivia and California. I spent time working with the Laika shamans of Peru. My fascination with these ancient practices just grew and grew.
In 2009, I began to study with Paul Francis with his then newly formed college in Therapeutic Shamanism. Again, this was another life-defining moment for me. I’d learnt so much about Shamanism and had had such magical healing experiences, but Paul’s blend of psychotherapy and shamanism was just the right progression for me to really shift my own personal healing up a gear. For the last 11 years, I have soaked up his courses, changed my life patterns, transformed my wounds and had the most profound healing experiences I could have ever of imagined. This process of putting my fragmented self back together and stepping into my authentic soul has been truly profound.
At 50 years of age, I feel more alive, complete, healthy and excited than I ever have before. I am hugely honoured to now teach for the college and to have my own one-to-one Therapeutic Shamanism practice.
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