Creator of Shamanix™
on Modern Shamanism
Interview by Philip H. Farber
PHF: How did you first get interested in Shamanism?
Susanna Bellini: When I was around 3 and 4 years old, I used to spend a lot of time playing in our large, old garden on my own. I was described as an 'imaginative and sensitive child' (read 'made up stories'!), and maybe I was, because for me nature was alive in such a magical way on so many levels. There was a big old oak tree, who gave me strength and comfort and many nature spirits and other beings who were my friends. At night I used to go off flying with the fairies and many times enjoyed feasting and dancing with them until dawn.
My strong connection with the natural worlds overlapping and within our own definitely started here. It was not all fun, though - I had my first shamanic death experience early on - and underwent many powerful adventures in the dreamworlds - a valuable training ground.
On the surface all this came to an abrupt stop, as I soon learned not to talk about such 'weird stuff' at school! Everything went into the background, or I should say into my day and night dreams, where I spent much time exploring.
PHF: How did you pick it up again when you were older? Did you encounter a shaman?
Susanna Bellini: Around 13, 14 I became VERY interested in all matters psychic - particularly all forms of divination and magick, specifically to influence 'people' - if you know what I mean ;-) I found I had a natural talent and high accuracy with palmistry - and in fact the responsibility at that age scared me into stopping. After that there was a gap for quite a few years, while I followed the 'sensible' route advised by my western elders - although I was always drawn to being in nature to refresh and restore my energies. Finally I paid attention to the 'pull' I'd always felt and in 1993 actively started training in a range of complementary therapies, exploring different kinds of energy work and re-establishing my shamanic connections.
Alongside training to gain formal qualifications, I spent as much time as possible travelling, and during these trips I was fortunate to meet many local shamen - always through unusual and lucky circumstances - who generously shared teachings with me.
PHF: Drawn from your own experience of encounters with shamans, could you illustrate what you consider a powerful shamanic experience?
Susanna Bellini: That's a difficult question to answer. I have witnessed many powerful demonstrations of shaman's abilities and have had the good fortune (and persistence) to find out how they manage to perform those skills. Once I have learned to do the same things, they then become easy, logical and above all natural.
What any of us might consider a powerful shamanic experience will differ, depending on our existing experience and perspective.
Powerful experiences can be a matter of 'glamour' or illusion; some of the most obviously powerful and impressive feats are conjuring and magic skills, and some of (in my view) the most genuinely powerful experiences and feats often go unseen and unrecognised, (in my experience).
Any of these experiences, real or illusionary, can build a powerful motivation to learn, though!
Having said all that, I've seen some impressive fast results in healing work, and some of the great shamans I have met are able to shift reality for a group of people present, in an instant, without the use or hypnosis or mind-altering drugs.
One told me to watch as they performed a piece of healing work and I saw the higher selves/energy bodies of the people rise out of their bodies and hover above their heads. These were cleansed with healing light and transformed, as the shaman spoke words of power. It looked as though they were returned to their pre-birth state and re-connected to their life's original purpose. Then the energy bodies moved back down into the people and their auras shone. It was a beautiful process to watch.
And it's powerful that the shaman just told me to watch, and suddenly I could see
And the people in the experience just felt wonderful, in a great state of mind and probably had no idea what had just happened for them..not until much later, anyway.
PHF: How has NLP influenced your understanding of shamanism?
Susanna Bellini: NLP provided the structure and methodology for me to model shamans' skills and abilities.
For a long time I had two distinct and separate areas of interest and training: counselling, hypnotherapy, NLP, timeline work and past life regression on one side and energy healing, Reiki, Crystal & Gem therapy, shamanic work and psychic activities on the other.
I was not sure how to bring the two areas together into a holistic framework for my work. But it became increasingly obvious that Richard Bandler was working on deeper levels and making use of much more than he was overtly teaching in his NLP seminars. Much of this energy work and ESP was enabling and actively enhancing the success of his teaching.
This is why I decided to take time out to do an apprenticeship with him. I wanted to find out how much he 'knew' of what he was doing and whether it was conscious or unconscious, to calibrate and model these other 'untaught' skills - My apprenticeship was an interesting time and honed my modelling skills enormously as Dr Bandler mostly works unconsciously in trance and metaphor, and it's up to the student to have clear aims, structure and discipline to follow his leads, calibrate what he is doing and indeed to track many levels at the same time.
Most people don't 'get' most of the energy stuff Bandler is doing and he flows much of it unconsciously himself. At his most inspired he taps into something greater - as many great speakers, teachers and healers do.
All this training and practice made it very easy for me to re-visit shamanic experiences and teachers to accurately calibrate and model them. It's also made it easy for me to now track and operate on many different levels of consciousness at the same time, while mostly being able to 'stay with the plot' on the level of mundane reality.
PHF: What do you think are a shaman's most important skills?
Susanna Bellini: Well, I started to make a list of the different shamanic skills and to think of how specifically these are vital right now for everyone. Luckily, we are carrying out this interview of necessity by email, so I was able to set my notes aside and 'sleep on it' and a deeper (far more useful) answer emerged.
In my shamanic Dreamweaving state, the answer came to me symbolically and yet, oh so clearly.
The shaman's most important - actually vital - skill is to know where they are (where they have been and where they are going). Or to put it in other ways, to distinguish between 'real' and 'illusion', to travel between 'worlds'.
We all know of those who have followed (It's easy enough to follow a) shamanic, healing, creative, spiritual, or mystical paths and lose touch with everyday reality with a variety of disastrous results.
None of the other shamanic skills can be used consistently and successfully without this skill, and therefore shamanic training requires commitment, dedication and discipline - not especially popular concepts in these days of 'instant gratification'.
Having said all this, some of the key skills are: the ability to extend their senses, and/or journey through space and time to access information and create positive change; the ability to communicate on many levels with all (consciousness) conscious beings (ranging from psychometry to inter-species communication) and the ability to manifest new realities.
PHF: Are these important skills for most people at this time in history? How so?
Susanna Bellini: Absolutely, these skills are important for everyone, to enhance their awareness and communication skills, and enable them to achieve a happier, healthier, more successful and satisfying life, in whatever ways they measure this.
I think these skills are even more important at this time in history, as the pace of life and pressures on people build up more and more - quite apart from the widespread beliefs of many that this is a crucial time for raising consciousness and moving humanity to another level.
Building on NLP and other skills, Shamanix skills add a deeper dimension, as well as other techniques and options for achieving these things, and in much more subtle and elegant ways.
The ability to move energies and make interventions on this level is complementary to and adds enormously to the overt speaking and action skills of other systems.
However, I must add that the full range of shamanic skills, abilities and benefits can really only be appreciated, accessed and utilised by those on a path of raising their consciousness, who are willing to dedicate themselves to the practice of such skills.
PHF: What makes Shamanix different than most current shamanism trainings?
Susanna Bellini: Shamanix teaches you how to develop actual effective skills faster and more elegantly than any other training. Shamanix also 'strips away' the 'paraphernalia and 'smoke and mirrors' of other trainings to give you the deeper principles and the core skills to achieve powerful results any time, anywhere, and without the need for any 'props'.
Shamanix is also carefully designed to develop the abilities and natural talents of the participants, whatever level of experience and skill they are currently possess, moving them closer to shamanic artistry and excellence with every Shamanix training they undertake. Shamanix students also go away with practical exercises they can use to develop their skills, and the more they practice these, the faster and more effectively they develop - some students who attended the first training in 2002 and returned to the recent one in York have been developing amazing abilities in between and just 'jumped up' another level now, that will amaze and delight themselves and others in the months and years to come.
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