This year I will be 60, and until my mid-40s if you had suggested to me that I would be a shamanic practitioner and integrated healthcare therapist I would have said you were crazy! But between 2004 and 2010 I did a U-turn, from working in a succession of demanding, stressful jobs, where I had adopted the role of ‘corporate bitch’, to embracing the roles of therapist and teacher that I have today.
On my journey I have attended many amazing courses and have worked with a wide variety of teachers from many different cultures and belief systems. Right from the start I would like to make it clear that I did not bring any pre-existing religious or spiritual beliefs to my journey. I was brought up in a strict Scottish Protestant family where morality seemed to consist of doing things because they were ‘right’ and if you didn’t do them you would suffer in hell for eternity. There was no sense of joy or compassion and certainly no expression of emotions. Just hard work, obligation, repression. The prevailing belief seemed to be that God had decreed that everything joyful was sinful, so by the age of seven or eight, instinctively I had ditched organised religion, and indeed developed a deep antipathy to it, much to the dismay of my parents.
I went on to spend 25 years after my graduation from university competing largely against men in the driven, rational, intellectual worlds of government, the City, TV journalism and strategic communications. I had suppressed my femininity, sexuality, intuition and empathy, without even being aware of the harsh image I was projecting to the world. I was definitely left-brain dominated, logical, uncompromising, judgemental and selfish. Despite my outward success, I felt very judged. And like so many I was obsessed by what people thought about me. I appeared confident and controlling, but that was my mask. I had very little self-esteem and depended on the approval of others both in my personal life and the work-place.
However, after stumbling on a few pages in a book that piqued my attention in 2002, I got hooked into a path of enquiry that has opened doors I didn’t even know existed. We don’t know what we don’t know!
The initial catalyst was a reference to the American ‘Remote Viewing’ (RV) programme that started at an affiliate of my old university, the Stanford Research Institute in California in 1973. This was conceived within and funded by the US Department of Defense and staffed largely by highly decorated military officers from 1975 until 1995. Over time it was known in the intelligence community as Scangate, Grillflame, Centerlane, Starburst and Stargate.
The pages that caught my attention were the ones that reported how outside the official RV programme, some of those who had been taught the skill decided to ‘visit’ other planets in our solar system. At that time images of these worlds were pretty crude and lacking in detail. Yet these remote viewers gave detailed descriptions that later proved to be highly accurate once space telescopes and exploratory probes transmitted high-resolution pictures back to earth. Conducted as they were within the military establishment under the control of a group of wellestablished scientists using a repeatable, verifiable protocol, these impossible feats attracted my deep curiosity. Intrigued, I read the published works of the remote viewing team2, and the more I read the more convincing they became. So I had to try it for myself, and that was how I came to be sitting in David Morehouse’s co-ordinate remote viewing (CRV) class. In a beautiful countryside manor in Wales in November 2004, over the space of six days we were taught the technique and given a variety of targets to visit and report back on. I had critical sensations relating to several of the targets I was asked to view, experiences that forced me to acknowledge that somehow, I am more than my physical body. I am well aware that words like energy, soul, spirit, consciousness – even the term information – are used in many different ways by people with diverse world-views and agendas. When communicating about these frontiers of science, biology, philosophy and healing those who work in this arena are going to need some clear definitions of what they mean.
Track 1 – the experiential journey into altered states of consciousness from the right brain
After this experience had ripped apart my former belief system, I began an intense period of investigation and learning. On a practical level this included re-birthing work, out-of-body courses at the Monroe Institute in Virginia, USA3, training in transpersonal psychotherapy, Reiki, craniosacral therapy, past life regression, family constellations and Tantric yoga. But for the first six years of this journey I was still working in the corporate sector: apart from anything else I needed the money for courses and trips. They were proving expensive of my spare time too: as well as looking after two teenage children, I was pounding through books on quantum physics, psychoneuroimmunology and epigenetics. It was an intense and exhausting period and my two children often had to fend for themselves. So it was a conflicted time, as different aspects of myself pulled in very different directions, and as I expanded into my new way of being some old acquaintances and colleagues, unable to accept the new direction I was taking, dropped away. The remaining friends and new ones I made on the journey have supported me throughout. Like love, true friendship is non-judgemental, unconditional and non-local.
The next major step came with my first venture into shamanic training. Alberto Villoldo’s Medicine Wheel 4 is based on the lineage of the Q’ero people of the Peruvian Andes. When I embarked on this path in November 2007 I stepped onto the Medicine Wheel as a way of healing myself, and with the hope of finding ‘tools’ to use with my clients. But I soon realised that being a shamanic practitioner was not something to be taken on so lightly as really it’s a complete way of life.
Shamanism may be the most ancient form of healing. In various ways it is practised among most of the indigenous peoples of the world. Shamans deal with physical ailments, but they are also capable of seeing energetic disturbance and of altering their state of consciousness to work non-locally, outside linear space and time, to retrieve information of value to their patients and their community
Finally, in June 2010, with my children reaching adulthood and independence, I quit the strategic communications consultancy I was working for and left for a seven-monthlong trip, starting in the Amazonian region of Peru, working with the hallucinogenic Ayahuasca plant medicine and the indigenous Shipibo shamans. I then moved to the Andes to work directly with the Q’ero lineage of shamans and the Wachuma plant medicine. Then I travelled to India and Thailand to meet teachers from different healing lineages and traditions. Some of the experiences I had on my journey were initially frightening, for they involved my rational mind losing control, or a descent into difficult areas of repressed emotion. In time I came to understand that the greater the fear and the deeper the shadows, the greater the learning and the gifts I could emerge with; that my access to light was directly correlated to my willingness to journey into the darkness. Yet when I first went deep into the Amazon jungle, I had no idea what I would have to engage with, nor what to expect. Perhaps that was a good thing: had I realised the power and the possibilities, I might never have drunk the healing potion of Mother Ayahuasca!
I have drunk the medicine about 25 times, in ceremonies spanning six years. The multitude of experiences possible with di-methyl-tryptamine (DMT) are well documented in books like DMT: The spirit molecule (Strassman, 2001). Ahead of any plant medicine ceremony, it is essential to set an intention, for early on in an ayahuasca ceremony vomiting of physical and energetic toxins is common. Many people experience swirling, multi-coloured lights in intensely complex geometric patterns. Further on in the journey as the feeling grows of being totally immersed in other dimensions, animal and plant spirits and extra-terrestrial beings may appear. Sometimes one may sense these beings downloading information into you or as if they were operating on you. Most overwhelmingly there may come the certainty of oneness – of being connected to the source of all that is.
I have had all these experiences at different times in a variety of Ayahuasca ceremonies. In these and other altered states of consciousness the ‘presences’ and the information conveyed have seemed totally real: being visited by etheric essences of plants, animals and by wise beings who have tried to communicate their knowledge; being given insights into past lives and soul contracts and their sources; communicating with deceased people I knew absolutely nothing about and receiving information that appeared to be remarkably accurate.
These strange, unanticipated and unsought encounters have given me new choices about how I live. Though initially way outside my belief system they have allowed me a knowing that goes beyond belief in the existence of a soul and reincarnation, and that entities living in other dimensions are as real as we are. But I don’t expect my experiences to convince you. Only your own personal journeys into altered states of consciousness could achieve that.
From very early on in my journey of self-discovery I felt a deep sense of gratitude and honour to have gained access to some of the teachers and information I was receiving. When I got back to the UK in January 2011 I felt an overwhelming obligation to use the intellectual tools of the ‘corporate bitch’ to share what I was being given. I was ready to step fully into my new life as a shamanic practitioner and body-mind therapist.
Track 2 – the academic investigation of consciousness and non-locality from the left brain
Although I was experiencing more and more altered states of consciousness, my rational, logical, investigative left brain wanted to make sense of these experiences. On the scientific track I ran into ideas about non-locality, epigenetics, psychoneuroimmunology and neuroplasticity. These relatively new fields of knowledge have expanded tremendously in the last 20 to 30 years. I believe that in time, as the scientific understanding of non-locality increases and the medical significance of neuroplasticity grows, shamanic healing and other ‘placebo’ or non-local cures will no longer be seen as New Age, hippy woo-woo. On the contrary they are increasingly being recognised as the foundations for 21st century integrated medicine.
Non-locality is one of the fundamental implications of quantum physics. Albert Einstein originally rejected quantum mechanics because it implied that one particle could instantaneously affect distant others in the system. What he described as ‘spooky action at a distance’ seemed to involve information being transmitted faster than light. Since then – and whether we understand it or not – nonlocal quantum entanglement effects have been shown to happen not only at the subatomic level but even with quite large molecules (Nairz et al, 2003).
Therefore in so far as anyone can understand these things it seems we are embedded in a non-material, nonlocal, holographic, entangled field in which all information past, present and future co-exists. A great deal of theoretical writing aims to explain how we might access this field. (For example the works of Bohm (1980), Van Lommel (2011), Laszlo (2009), Hameroff and Penrose (2014)). My own works try to summarise the academic evidence. Experimental research into altered states of consciousness, remote viewing, telepathy, and distant healing tests the existence of this non-local field as a carrier of information that is accessible and useful to the human mind.
Although there is not space to go into these ideas in this short article, my passion today is to act as a bridge between ancient ways of healings, and modern science and medicine. I use the term Temenos Touch for my own healing practice, because as described by Simon Buxton (2004), a temenos has come to mean a protected physical and emotional space in which the transforming work of healing takes place through learning and teaching. In my client sessions and my teaching, I try to create such a safe space, so that a connection between the body and the mind and then the body-mind and the non- local ‘inforealm’ may open up, presenting the potential for transformation and healing.
Throughout the ages people have attained access to this realm of non-local information, sometimes intentionally through meditation, breath-work, trance dance, mediumship, listening to bi-neural sound and by taking hallucinogens. Others have achieved it unintentionally in spontaneous out-of-body experiences, near death experiences and perhaps even in what they have experienced as ‘alien’ abduction. The people who have consistently been able to journey there intentionally, whether or not aided by hallucinogens, have been the shamans. Though for centuries westerners did not believe their stories, the recent resurgence of psychedelic research has awoken scientific interest in their claims. The leading centres for a renaissance in clinical psychedelic research include the Beckley Foundation in the UK and the Heffter Research Institute in the USA.
Rituals are a principal tool of the shaman, who uses them to cross between the worlds, outside conventional four-dimensional space and time. For me, rituals are important in two ways. Firstly, by boosting the right-brain’s wide-ranging intuitive, empathic, emotional, non-verbal functions, they help us resonate with and connect to the realm of non-local information, by somehow loosening the hold of the default mode network – the brain’s censoring and judging function. I like to think that a meaningful ritual is an honouring of something sacred and ancient; and that the field of intention and imagination it creates beams out and makes a non-local connection with all those who have performed similar rituals in the past. And so it becomes a calling in of ancestors to ask for their help in entering the eternal ever-present wider field of consciousness. Secondly, perhaps by embodying the broad and mythical archetypical information we receive from our journeying, and by re-enacting what our right-brain may have gleaned from non-local consciousness, rituals can translate this information into the language of the focused, verbal, compartmentalised organising left-brain, and the reality of everyday waking life. In doing so, rituals may create new neural attractor pathways within the brain and shape new forms of perception that transcend the many limiting stories we weave about ourselves.
Through the plant medicines and other alternative therapies we can learn of our interconnectedness with all life-forms, and that humans need to live in harmony with the other than human world: in symbiosis, not conflict. My great hope is that these therapies will be allowed to bring healing and hope to the millions suffering trauma or fearing death, and to convince humanity to stop inflicting catastrophic damage on each other and our planet. Already in a number of clinical trials over the last decade, the clinical use of psychedelics has shown promising results in the treatment of depression and addictions and other conditions previously labelled as incurable. They have helped people gain experiences of interconnectedness and oneness. When we truly connect with oneness we want love, not war; to live in peace not fear.
I feel it’s time for all who have had non-local experiences to share them without fear or embarrassment. If we do this, others will be more able to experiment and to question the system that keeps us isolated and small. Then perhaps the pace of change within medicine and education will accelerate.
My biggest lessons have been in discovering that I am a drop in the ocean of consciousness and, though I truly know or control very little, that I must honour the miraculous, spectacular magnificently entangled universal energy field in which I am a tiny, interconnected spark. On a personal level I feel I have a purpose, and old friends say I seem happier than ever before. While many of them are reaching retirement, I have a new profession that will endure as long as I am in this physical body. To be of service most effectively, I have to live the way of the shaman with gratitude for being allowed to sing the song of life in this body for another day, on this beautiful planet, at this amazing time of transformation.
- Details of the CIA assessment of Stargate are provided in McMoneagle, Joseph (1993) Mind trek, exploring consciousness, time and space through remote viewing. Chapter 7. Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Roads.
- amazon.co.uk/Mind-Trek-Exploring-ConsciousnessMcMoneagle/dp/B00GXFE6WY/ref=sr_1_19?ie=UTF8&qid=1525245 409&sr=8-19&keywords=joseph+mcmoneagle (This is the original, a newer revised version was released more recently) www.amazon.co.uk/Psychic-Warrior-Paranormal-EspionageProgramme/dp/1905570384/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1 525245450&sr=1-3&keywords=david+morehouse&dpID= 51dnlSdCoCL&preST=_SY344_BO1,204,203,200_QL70_&dpSrc=src h
- Bohm D (1980) Wholeness and the implicate order. Abingdon on Thames: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
- Brodie EM (2018) A better pill: first steps to a conscious, nonlocal healthcare paradigm. London: Book Guild.
- Brodie EM (2015) Temenos touch: the art and science of integrated medicine and non-local healing. Cardiff by the sea, CA: Waterside Press.
- Brodie EM (2013) Corporate bitch to shaman: a journey uncovering the links between 21st century science, consciousness and the ancient healing practices. Beauchamp, Leicestershire: Matador.
- Buxton S (2004) The shamanic way of the bee: ancient wisdom and healing practices of the bee masters. Rochester, VT: Destiny Books.
- Hameroff S, Penrose R (2014) Online. Available at: https://quantumconorg/content/hameroff-penrose-review-orch-or-theory (accessed 3 June 2018).
- Laszlo E (2009) The Akashic experience: science and the cosmic memory field. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions.
- Nairz O, Arndt, M, Zeilinger A (2003) Quantum interference experiments with large molecules. American Journal of Physics 71: 319–325.
- Strassman R (2001) DMT: the spirit molecule. Rochester, VT: Park Street Press.
- Van Lommel P (2011) Consciousness beyond life: the science of the near-death experience. New York, NY: Harper One.