Everybody Needs a Little Woo-Woo
By Deborah Blackwell
For a long time, I had a shaman on retainer. Call it woo-woo, but it works. I wasn’t unfamiliar with woo-woo; growing up, psychics breezed in and out of my life, as my parents relied on them for any shred of hope they could to have a happier life. We all want to be happy, and we want someone to assure us that we will be. Especially when we’re not.
At first, I didn’t want any part of shamanic woo-woo. Sir Husband and I were deep in the throes of terroristic chaos from a former consort of his trying to wreck our lives. I had no energy for telling the sordid story to anyone, I was simply trying to survive it. Turned out this intuitive, down-to-earth shaman was not only a spiritual guide, healer, teacher, and therapist, she was also a friend and a lifeline for more than a decade. Then, she ditched me.
What do you do when you lose a lifeline? I can’t answer for everyone. But I baked a cake.
Like a recipe, a shaman gives you steps to follow. A good shaman can help you decide what cake you want to make, and identify ingredients you’ll need. Then, she supports your baking journey from a mystical, big-picture perspective.
I wish she was there when it came to my first wedding cake. I had to learn on my own that while we all have the potential to connect with our inner woo-woo, sometimes we do need the help of a master baker. A good friend can also fill that role. Like the friend who, on the morning of my first wedding, asked me if I was sure I wanted to marry my ex. I felt the woo-woo rumble, but ignored it and said yes. My intuition and superficial desires were in direct conflict. If I had a shaman back then, she would have likely told me to keep my desires in perspective, listen to my inner knowing, and trust it. A little woo-woo would have saved me from myself.
I’ve become a better cook since then, or a better listener. I try to tune in to the subtle messages that come in everyday life, the quiet forces that nudge me one way or another, usually for my betterment. Sometimes I listen, sometimes I don’t; my intuition can get pushed aside by human desire or the buy-in to societal norms. Which by the way, we often later choke on.
In the years I had my shaman, through terrible and good, suffering and triumph, she brought light to the darkness, blew on the embers of hope, and instilled belief beyond knowing. I welcomed her wisdom even when it was uncomfortable to hear. She was also a “seer,” an Indigenous medicine woman whose woo-woo helped heal my body and soul. And that she did. Just not in the way I expected.
When I got salmonella that eventually caused POTS, my shaman insisted I was fine. She argued with me that nothing was wrong when I couldn’t catch my breath. Or function. Or get out of bed. Then, without warning, my woo-woo warrior was gone. Poof. No explanation.
It’s easy to rely on and trust other people more than we trust ourselves. When my shaman disappeared, the gaping hole felt awful. For two long years I struggled and wrestled with my “independence.”Although I’m a certified life coach and helping others comes naturally, I couldn’t seem to help myself.
Then one day, a good friend who witnessed this desperation said, “Oh my God Deb, you need to find some woo-woo.” She was right. It was time to write my own recipe. I had to learn to listen to me, believe me, trust me. I had to pick the ingredients, decide how to mix them, and how long to bake — and if my cake collapsed, what I needed to change. We can rely on others all we want, but nobody can help us like we can help ourselves. The woo-woo’s inside you.
It was in my shaman’s departure that I remembered something she said to me early on:
“I can’t always bring peace to you. If you can embrace peace fully, even for just a minute, it will shift everything. Bake a cake. The presence and alchemy of ingredients coming together make something beautiful. That is you.”
So go ahead, bake a cake. Don’t forget the frosting.