A shaman is one who navigates the practical and the mystical worlds and sees each as a natural part of life.
I’ve always loved wearing multiple hats in life. I know common wisdom is to find one thing and stick with it. My motto is to delve deep into the things you love and create a life around them! Life is too short to only live in one box. And yet, all my lives intersect. I am a western shaman and writer who loves using those skills to help people explore their own potential to create. Whether it be a book, a film, or the most creative life possible.
When many people hear me say I’m a shaman, it brings to mind images of indigenous people wearing face paint. I couldn’t resist using the picture of me in face paint that was taken at a class at the Four Winds Society in 2011 for this page. I think this is the only time I have ever been in face paint. It isn’t like I walk around like this every day. The photo speaks to a deep connection I have with reclaiming the ancient wisdom in our DNA and bringing it back into our modern lives.
What are we bringing back? A connection to the earth and all the natural world; an understanding about healing emotional trauma through our stories and energy; our personal connection to spirit and the life force that pulses through all of existence; ritual and ceremony that speaks to a deep part of us that logic does reach; and so much more.
When I sat in my first shaman circle, I felt like I had come home. I had been seeking something my whole life. I still shake my head and wonder how little Carol who grew up in a Catholic family in the Midwest and went to 16 years of Catholic school ended up where I am here today. The saying that comes to mind is “God (or The Universe) works in mysterious ways!”
Growing up in that very loving and practical family in Illinois, my passion for writing and the theater were met with, “That’s nice dear, why don’t you find a practical way to write—how about journalism?” Being a “good girl” I took that advice to heart. I graduated with a degree in journalism from Marquette University, but found that being a reporter wasn’t for me. I thought about law school and got a job in a law firm fully intending to do the next practical thing and become a lawyer. But I soon realized that being a lawyer wasn’t for me either.
I spent the next 10 years of my life working up the courage to go for what I really wanted. I found a safe practical job working as a paralegal and then a manager of up to 350 people in one of the nation’s largest and most prestigious corporate law firms. I was good at my job in the legal world. And I learned a lot there about project management and coaching people to accomplish goals that seemed impossible in the time frame given with the resources at hand. I bring t”his practical, “let’s break it down” skill into my work with clients.
When I was 28, I decided to let the part of me that wanted to pursue acting out to play. While working in law firms, I pursued a career as an actor for 10 years in Los Angeles and during this time wrote a play: Someday My Prince Will Come And Other Lies They Told Me which had its debut as part of the playwright’s program at the Los Angeles Theatre Center in 1999. I worked as an actor in industrial films, infomercials and reality reenactment television. Fortunately, most of this footage is lost, never to be seen. My acting journey taught me so much about not judging the human experience of life. It also led me to using hypnosis to help get past stage fright. This was the beginning of my new career.
I studied hypnotherapy at the Hypnosis Motivation Institute in Tarzana, CA, graduated with honors from the program and have been a practicing hypnotherapist and guided imagery facilitator since 2003.
In 2006, I was guided by a spirit voice, which I simply call The VOICE, to write what became my book, From Scared to Sacred, Lessons in Learning to Dance with Life.
The VOICE also led me to take the Healing the Light Body Course at the Four Winds Society (founded by Alberto Villodo). I journeyed to Peru to work in ceremony with the Q’ero (descendants of the Inka). I continue to study with teachers of this tradition from Peru. I traveled to Brazil to meet and sit in the energy of the healing entities of John of God. I’ve learned to step out of the way so that spirit can work through me to help others.
It is deep and sacred work that I am honored to do. I help clients do the courageous work of going deep into their shadow side and soul contracts so that they can bring all the energy that sits heavy in their soul to love and healing. I use the energetic healing tools I learned at the Four Winds, Reiki (I’m also a Reiki master), guided meditation/hypnosis, intuitive tracking and those practical and analytical skills honed in law firms to the private sessions with clients and workshops that I teach.
I now combine my love of writing, the theater and creativity to assist writers and creative people in bringing their projects to life. I have been tagged “the book shaman” for the work I do with writers to help them with the craft of writing and overcoming the internal blocks to creativity and success. Writing is my joy but it also takes courage to dig deep and write the book or project that is calling to you. As an editor, I work with authors doing content development level editing (which comes long before copy editing and proofreading). I help author’s find their voice, put their story or points in a framework that will speak to the audience.
I am on the path just like you. While I’ve had experiences that make me “perfect” for the work I do, I haven’t arrived at “I have all the answers.” (No one does. Let’s just admit that and run from any healer or teacher who says they do!) I won’t let my ego take all the credit for the powerful work that happens in a healing session, ceremony or writing session. As I learned in Catholic school, “where two or more are gathered” powerful spirit is present and I have found that my job is to hold the space that invites that spirit in.
When we stop trying to know everything and instead embrace the huge mystery that is unfolding in front of us, life shifts into a wonderful exciting adventure of exploring all that we can be.
If you need help stepping into your adventure, I’m happy to help!
I currently live in the Pasadena area of Los Angeles with my amazing “shaman dog”, Sadie and work with clients in Los Angeles and around the world via phone and Skype.
Wishing you all the best things in life!
Carol Woodliff, Shaman, Writing & Coach (and Sadie!)