Philosophy and Approach to Shamanism
Traditional Education and Professional Background
Non-traditional Education and Training
Lisa Weikel is the hoot behind Owl Medicine, ranging from this website, to her shamanic healing practice, to the book of the same name. The specs on Lisa are as follows:
I’ve been learning from Mother Earth and Nature all my life. I grew up in the country and spent a lot of time either alone or with a few friends playing in the woods, fields, and alongside the creeks in rural eastern Pennsylvania. Animals, both wild and domestic, have always played an extremely important role in my life, including being the companions who bring me messages, sense my emotions, never judge me, and always offer me unconditional love and comfort. My family and I currently share our lives with two Boston Terriers and three amazing felines, to name only the “less wild” of my familiars.
Soon after passing the bar exam and diving into the world of constant learning that is a general law practice, I found myself guided to an array of books that whetted my appetite for more on subjects such as reincarnation and the nature of reality. I was astonished not only by the surprising amount of research and documentation that had been generated on these subjects (and certainly there’s been far more added to our storehouse of knowledge in the past 30 years), but also – and perhaps more profoundly - by the feelings of excitement and purpose that percolated inside me as book after book found its way into my hands, leading me to territories I’d only dreamed about exploring as a teenager and young adult.
A more formal approach to my education in metaphysical and non-traditional theories began in the late 1980s. Some of the more difficult (yet probably most valuable) “teachings” that came my way initially through that venue are chronicled in my book, Owl Medicine. Beyond those lessons, however, my initial teacher also provided me with a serious and substantial grounding in the classics of metaphysics, from Blavatsky and Manly Hall to the Upanishads and Zoroaster, for which I am also grateful.
It was in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s that contemporary books on shamanism started to surface, which was a relief, as “the” seminal book on the subject up to that time, Mircea Eliade’s, Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy, while certainly scholarly, felt fundamentally wrong to me somehow. It put shamanism and indigenous peoples’ relationship to the earth and nature into the past, whereas I felt in my heart that these teachings and ways of being needed understanding and expression now.
Consequently, when Michael Harner came out with his book, The Way of the Shaman, I drank it up. I can still, amazingly enough, remember exactly where I was sitting (on the grass, behind a bush, near a creek near my house) when I suddenly became exquisitely aware of exactly where I was on the earth and how profoundly happy I was to be reading about the world he revealed in that book. I do believe that, in some way, I knew I was getting a taste of my destiny, although I had no idea how that could ever, ever come about...
I tried shamanic journeying on my own (the art of using percussive sound to enter into a trance-like state where your consciousness enters a separate and distinct landscape, what Harner terms “non-ordinary reality,”) and met with what I considered tepid success. I soon discovered that Harner was personally giving workshops, and my husband and I went to one of those for a weekend in NYC, which gave us the opportunity not only to do this work under his direct guidance, but also to engage for the first time in group work, which can be uniquely powerful.
One experience led to another, and step by step, through reading books and applying the techniques they disclosed, taking classes, workshops and “intensives,” (all the while maintaining our own inner knowing and intuition to be our primary Guide and Teacher), I found myself in Tuva, Siberia, traveling with a family of shamans and being initiated into their tradition, a tradition that was very nearly wiped out through the systematic and deliberate extermination of shamans when the Soviet Union annexed the country of Tuva.
It was not until I engaged in the Healing the Light Body training with the Four Winds Society, however, that I discovered a truly practical use for the shamanic ways, outside of my own way of life, personal growth, and acquisition of guidance. It is this broader application and opportunity to be of service to others for which I am most grateful to the staff of the Four Winds. It feels appropriate to mention here as well my gratitude to the amazing people with whom I learned (and continue to learn) the ways of the Inkas (the Q’eros of the High Andes or altoplano). These wisdomkeepers and fellow explorers, representing at least a dozen different countries, continue to expand my horizons, sharing our adventures with laughter and tears, and providing me with an unbelievably rich source of love, wisdom, inspiration, and community.
There is always more to learn.
Full Moon in Tinicum Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Photo by Lisa Weikel
I’m married to Karl and together we have three sons, who have essentially grown into remarkable young men. For the most part, Karl and I have shared the path of exploring our spirituality, which has been a great gift and a huge source of adventure, camaraderie, and inspiration throughout our married life. Whenever possible, we’ve included our sons in our explorations, for really, at least to Karl and me, figuring out why we are here, what it all means, and how we can be of greatest service has been the core of our marriage. Our hardest times have been when we got caught up in the material world or lost sight of what gives us the greatest joy and means the most to us. Of course we would share that quest with our sons!
For instance, both Karl and our middle son, Maximus, are also full mesa carriers in the Inkan tradition (as am I), although they do not routinely see people for healing sessions. Nevertheless, they both went through the two year training and additional Master’s classes for certification as Healing the Light Body practitioners, thus permitting us to share a fundamental understanding and appreciation of this tradition, which is precious.
Of course, that’s not to say it’s always been easy for the kids (or us) to follow this spiritual path as a family. Our eldest son, Karl (D.), takes great pleasure in relating how “scarred” he is from participating in an inipi (Native North American sweatlodge ceremony) when he was 13 or so and had to exit the lodge on hands and knees behind a middle-aged woman who was naked (save for the towel wrapped around her)! Perhaps that explains why he always likes to be "first" in his life experiences and adventures. Being a follower can have its drawbacks. Certainly, he blazes his own unique path.
Even our youngest son, Sage, has experienced his own unique initiation into the shamanic ways, with his path distinctly linked to the Irish/Celtic traditions. His innate resonance with the Irish/Celtic Way was first uncovered in a workshop with Tom Cowan, and later fully initiated on the sacred ground of Tara in County Meath, Ireland, under the auspices of John Cantwell.
While I know that many (OK, most) of our family vacations were centered around shamanic pursuits (engendering frequent eye rolling and sighs on the part of the sons), I hope that, someday, they will look back on our adventures with a special affection and realize the connection – to each other, to Mother Earth, and to All That Is – that we were trying to instill in them. Not to mention appreciate the coolness of growing up with knowledge of power animals and spirit guides!
I believe that, as humans, we are all indigenous to this planet. It is our common humanity that connects us not only to each other, but also to the ancient wisdom that resides in our very DNA and is expressed through the various forms of shamanism practiced across the world today.
I was born in North America and feel a deep love and connection to this land. My biological heritage is almost entirely Irish/Celtic, and my sense of belonging to that Tribe is in my cells. I’ve been spontaneously moved to profound weeping both upon hearing Tuvan throat singing for the first time and then having to leave that land behind when I returned to America after a stay there in 2003. The ways of the Q’ero feel natural and right to me, and I learned their traditions with ease, almost as if I were remembering them.
All of these experiences have inspired me to seek out, train with, and receive initiations from wisdomkeepers in the Q’ero (Inkan), Tuvan (Siberian) and Celtic traditions, among others. Indeed, if I am called in the future to study with or receive initiation from elders of other traditions, I will gratefully heed that call.
I go where my heart takes me, knowing that I am a child of Mother Earth herself, and believing that, if reincarnation is indeed a reality in our souls’ evolution, then it’s not too big a stretch to imagine that someone incarnating on the earth at this time in our evolution would have quite a history of engaging in healing work in all manner of tribes and civilizations. Thus, I am honored to bring aspects of each of these traditions to my shamanic work with clients, listening to Spirit for the proper tools and techniques to use with each individual according to his or her needs.
B.S. in Psychology, magna cum laude, The Pennsylvania State University, 1980
J.D., State University of New York at Buffalo School of Law and Jurisprudence, 1983
Admitted to the Bar of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, 1983
As an attorney, I have worked as a general practitioner since 1983, and additionally, as a Director of Development and Staff Attorney for two non-profit organizations promoting women’s rights. While I maintain active status as an attorney in Pennsylvania, I limit my practice to a very select number of clients and issues, focusing most of my time, energy, and attention to my writing and my shamanic work.
John Perkins and Llyn Roberts, including indigenous masters assembled at two Annual International Gatherings of Shamans, Omega Institute
Aldyn-Herel Choodular, Tos Deer, Kyzyl and Bert-Dag, Tuva (Siberia) (by express personal permission of Professor Mongush B. Kenin-Lopsan, who was declared a “Living Treasure of Shamanism” by the Foundation of Shamanic Studies)
Alberto Villoldo and staff, especially Wake Wheeler and Stevi Belle – Healing the Light Body Certification – Four Winds Society
Q’ero elders in Peru, including Altomesayoks Dona Maria and Don Adolfo
Karen Ward and John Cantwell, Slí An Chroí, Walking the Pathway of the Heart
In addition to receiving intensive experiential training with the above-referenced individuals and organizations, I have also had the opportunity to experience influential and inspired classes with the following gifted way-showers, including Stuart Wilde, Michael Harner, Tom Cowan, Mitch Nur (www.9ways.org) Jose Luis Herrera, Stevi Belle, Cindy Lindsay Rael, Ph.D., Wake & Kinlen Wheeler (Sacred Pathways), and Karen Ward and John Cantwell (Slí An Chroí), as well as several Native and non-Native North American healers and teachers.
Lisa atop Queen Maeve’s Cairn, Cnoc na Ria, County Sligo, Ireland. Photo by Karl Weikel