A World of Traditions – An Interview with Paulina Howfield
A contemporary shaman, discusses her work with Earth Energies and Soul Consciousness
(This interview was published in Spirit Earth Magazine, written by David Shaughnessy)
A World of Traditions – an Interview with Paulina Howfield
Paulina travels the world visiting sacred sites of all traditions including the modern. Her work is of a manifold nature covering dimensions of healing, awakening, connecting and teaching.
On Monday the 14th of November, I conducted an interview with Paulina Howfield concerning her Shamanic practices. She sought to clarify the role of the contemporary, or neoshaman, on a global scale. She has training and knowledge of the Native American, Egyptian, Celtic, Aboriginal and South American shamanic traditions as well as Wiccan insights.
Paulina: ‘Contemporary Shamanic training incorporates more than what can be seen as traditional shamanic training. Life is an experience of shamanic work, for shamanism is about energy. Because, if you understand what embodies “energy” you get an idea of how to be and communicate that energy’.
Shamanism to Paulina is working with energy in this way, even to shape shift if you like.
Paulina: ‘This is the energy which is inherent in everything. We are all interrelated, therefore in working with personal energy we also work with all energies past, present and future. This is invisible, intangible but you can feel its presence. Connecting with it is becoming aware of the unwritten, the unspoken, the unthought. Allowing your intuition to develop through all walks of life enables you to become aware of that which isn’t, its like the ‘space in between’.
Energy Moves Within And Through Everything
Energy moves in rhythms between us and all other things. In connecting with that Paulina opens up to self healing, yet, in being connected, facilitates the healing of others.
The dynamic is, that Paulina enables others to realize that they have the ability to perform their own self healing and to improve self understanding, This sows a seed of desire in people to find their own path. Paulina takes people to work with the ancient sacred sites of the land. In working with those energies they heal themselves, they connect with the earth and everything that is. In this self healing, we learn that we are all connected.
Paulina is led to these sites through listening to the whispers that become apparent to her through her connectedness with the energy. She is led to work with the quickening vibrations of the Earth and those same energies within her and us all.
Thus the specific form her healing takes, is the balancing of the male and female energies of a site or its polarity. Each place has a particular resonance drawing her to it for personal needs and to fulfil the needs of the site with the energies she carries from site to site. In this way Paulina forms links between sites or creates interconnected webs of light. In Australia she feels the heat of the red earth and the strong masculine qualities of the land, thus she goes to sacred sites to establish a feminine resonance.
Paulina: ‘Before leaving for a site I begin to attune through trust and intuition. When I arrive at the site I imagine my body open. all of my senses open, all of my energies open. So that I can be led to do the things that need to be done. Thus there is constant give and take of communication on an energy level. Once again it is for looking for what is not there, for the spaces in between. By opening up I see everything as a symbol each with its own information to give. This reveals the light underneath and sometimes the darkness’.
In doing her work Paulina always asks for permission and offers thanks.
The sites that she works with have a long history of traditions; for example a church site could once have been an ancient Aboriginal sacred site. When we consider that Paulina travels the world touching on energies of many different cultural traditions we are faced with the question of how the work of the traditional Shaman compares to that of Paulina’s.
For the traditional Shaman the world is a much smaller place. The traditions that arise within this context communicate Universal truths through the context of the local environment. Therefore, in one region we find that the eagle is revered as a sacred bird but in other area the crow plays a similar role because different areas have different dominant species and the Shaman works with what is in the native environment. Thus we find similarities across Shamanic traditions – in the basic truths which lie behind the basic traditions. Paulina places emphasis upon the presence of the four directions embodying the four elements while spirit lies in the centre. Embodied within this is the male and female polarities of force and form which come together to manifest being.
Paulina: ‘For man in industrial society, the world is a bigger place. We can fly all over the world and communicate through networks that link the world with our lounge room. Our culture is also special in that, due to these mediums of communication, we have access to a world of religious traditions and have a tendency to qualify and compare everything. This is not necessarily to place a value judgement on any style but to recognise that the modern Shaman is affected by broad spectrum of possibilities. The modern Shaman has the potential to be a world Shaman’.
Working With Sites All Over The Planet
By working with Sacred sites throughout the world, Paulina has to deal with many different cultural traditions. She sees her role as one of re-awakening and re-linking traditions across the globe.
Thus when she goes to a site she carries within her some of the energies from other sites throughout the world. Many of these sites have not been worked with for a long time so in working with them Paulina remembers and re-awakens that force. In so doing she also awakens it within herself through her connectedness with all things.
In using this core of tradition she is able to cross traditional boundaries. In working with the traditional energy she honours those cultural boundaries. In Shamanic work there is a constant consciousness that we only play a small part, leaving room for all others to work with the same energies. In going to a place Paulina trusts there will lay the knowledge of what needs to be done. Whilst revering those traditions she incorporates her wide knowledge of different traditions and brings them into action together. Rather than using methods free of tradition, Paulina incorporates all traditions freely.
Paulina: ‘As I can tap into this energy so each individual has the ability to resonate with the being of a site. Each person holds knowledge of all traditions within them. An individual may resonate more strongly with a particular tradition. For example you may feel that the Celtic tradition is for you if it stirs your sense of heritage but the important thing is that it works for you. “The well of knowledge is open to all and within this well we learn to be consciously aware of our own inner space; in seeing what we can and can’t do we honour our own sacredness. When we acknowledge that sacredness we can in turn acknowledge the sacredness of ancient cultures’.
The key to being a Shaman lies within the sacred space within us. The secret to being a global Shaman is to learn as many traditions as you can, honouring each of them and knowing that they each have importance free of value judgements. It is knowing how to use each tradition within its particular resonance.
Paulina: ‘Once again it comes back to balance and harmony. To achieve this you must truly be in the now, free to enter that sacred space within you and become one with the energy you are working with. This is the secret of shape shifting. Its essence is that by being in that sacred space the Shaman, as nothing, is able to harmonise with all energy’.
Sacred Space Can Be Found Anywhere
Turning to our industrial landscape we stretch our vision in search of the sacred space yet by moving within, in trust, vision clears. Everything has the capacity to be sacred. Acknowledging the oneness of all things awakes a synchronicity in chaos. The mass media can communicate truths equally as well as an ancient tradition. The cables that carry voice over incredible distances and the satellites which link them up over the entire world arc a symbol for the modem man which speaks a truth different for us all, yet akin. This truth is to embrace the sacredness of everything and understand its capacity to speak a truth. The more we embrace this the easier it is to live in this world.
Looking to the future every moment is a treasure and that treasure builds every moment. We forget sometimes that everything matters. Yet when you go to a place with complete openness, as Paulina does, you realize there is so much more to everything. Trust brings you completely into an environment. Trust is the essence of the strongest heart, for with it comes understanding and the passing of fear. Energy communicates with you.
Paulina is a global Shaman, she is a shamanic energy worker. From a basic structure and a core of trust she has become a vehicle for a world of traditions – a vehicle for energy, clearly communicating the symbols of our world and times.
In opening to energy you find it begins to communicate with you and external energies open to you. Shamans have always played the role of the link between the sacred and mundane worlds, for they see the sacred within all things.
Paulina in her work is this shamanic archetype yet she speaks in the language of our culture where the word energy is in some contexts synonymous with Mana, Spirit or many of the other names the mystical Sacred Life Force has carried. You too carry this force and the vision of the Shaman within you.