Peace through understanding
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Winner of 2014 ECHO Award from The Winston-Salem Foundation

May 15, 2015

 (The opinions in this article are the opinions of the writer and may -- or may not -- represent the views of Interfaith Winston-Salem.)

     What is shamanism?   Myths, misperceptions, and truths
      When I share with people that I follow a shamanic path and work as a Shamanic Practitioner doing healing work, I often get blank or confused looks. Although shamanic healing is becoming more widely known in today’s society, there remains much mystery and misunderstanding about it.
      For many in the U.S., the term “shaman” brings to mind Native Americans, feathers, beads, drums, and rattles. But the term “shaman” originated in Siberia, and shamanic traditions have existed in various forms throughout the world through all of human history.
     In addition, in recent years there has been a surge in “contemporary shamanism”—those called to a shamanic path without living in a traditional shamanic culture. I fall into that category and have received beautiful and powerful teachings from several traditions in this country and others.
            Here are some common myths—and truths—about the shamanic path:
            Myth 1. Shamanism is a religion. It is not—and it is not about a particular belief system, but about direct personal experience and revelation. It does incorporate certain perspectives of life. These include the view that everything is alive and a part of the one web of life, all infused with a universal life force energy. Also, that there exists, alongside this physical world, a spirit world. Shamanic practices help us to access that spirit realm—to learn how to see, hear, feel, and know beyond our usual physical senses. These practices help us to be connected and in relationship with the spirit in all things. That is the essence of a shamanic path.
            Shamanic practices also help us to connect with individual spirit guides who offer wisdom, energy, healing, support and guidance. These are commonly animal spirit guides, other nature spirits, and ancestor spirits.  
            Myth 2. Shamanism is just for certain special people; I can’t do that. Although it may come easier to some people than others, everyone can learn to develop an active relationship with the spirit in all things and with their personal spirit guides. How? Shamanic practices incorporate various methods to help expand awareness, move us beyond our usual state of consciousness, and open us to the invisible realms. Drumming, along with shamanic journeying, is the most well known and commonly used practice. Also common are other kinds of music, rituals, dancing, plant medicines, and ceremony. But the most essential elements are your intention and your openness to developing this relationship. You can receive guidance in this process with a Shaman or Shamanic Practitioner—those who have trained and practiced extensively in shamanic work in order to heal and bring balance to individuals, community, and the land.
Sandy Phocas works as a Shamanic Practitioner in Winston-Salem and is a member of the Interfaith Winston-Salem Board of Guidance. Come hear her talk and join in the conversation about her shamanic path at Interfaith Conversations May 18, 7-8:30 p.m., in the Social Hall at Temple Emanuel in Winston-Salem. Sandy can also be found online at
Clinard Receives The Winston-Salem Foundation Award
            Woody Clinard, one of Winston-Salem’s leading philanthropists, was awarded the prestigious Winston-Salem Foundation Award May 6 for his support of many community-building efforts.
            Clinard has been a strong supporter of Interfaith Winston-Salem since its founding more than three years ago both financially and with his participation in programs. As part of the honor from The Winston-Salem Foundation, he was awarded $10,000 that he could distribute to organizations making a difference in the local community.  Interfaith Winston-Salem is pleased to be one of 10 groups he chose to receive a portion of the monetary award.
An Invitation to an Evening of Music May 16
            Rabbi Mark Strauss-Cohn and Temple Emanuel in Winston-Salem invite friends of Interfaith Winston-Salem to join them for a free musical performance by Nava Tehila, a group that has reimagined Jewish ritual music.  The performance is at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 16 at Temple Emanuel, 201 Oakwood Dr. in Winston-Salem.
            “I prayed, celebrated, and studied with Nava Tehila often during my year-long Sabbatical in Israel, and cannot recommend the experience of being in their presence highly enough,” Rabbi Mark says.  “This is a truly special opportunity.  They chose Temple Emanuel as one of only seven synagogues in the entire country on their current U.S. tour.”
            Two of the songs on the group’s “Waking Heart” CD are sung during Sabbath worship at Temple Emanuel.  Your can listen to them at these links:
Yedid Nefesh and Oseh Shalom
     Nava Tehila means “beautiful praise.”  The group says, “We welcome people of other religions and ‘spiritual, but not religious’ people who want to pray and sing with us. Our prayer is experiential because we are constantly seeking ways of connection to the Living God in each and every moment.”
Muslim Speakers to Share Their Stories at “Journeys”
       In observance of Ramadan, which begins in June, Firoz Pathan and Sarvarkhan Pathan, father and son, will be speaking about fasting in the month of Ramadan, one of the five pillars of Islam, and being a Muslim and its implications with living a common man`s life in India and in USA.  
       They will join the Interfaith Winston-Salem “Journeys” breakfast group at 8 a.m. Sunday, June 7 for the monthly session at the Golden Corral Restaurant near Hanes Mall in Winston-Salem. Their presentation is open to the public at no charge.
      Ramadan, the holy month for Muslims, this year will be observed from mid-June through mid-July. Observant Muslims fast from dawn through sunset, restraining from consumption of food and liquids, avoiding smoking and participation in sexual relations. They also refrain from other behaviors that could be considered sinful. Those are only a few of the practices followed during the month.
      The fast each day is broken with a ritual meal called an “iftar.” Muslims celebrate the conclusion of Ramadan with a feast call “Eid al-Fitr.”
Book Club to Read, Discuss Sabbath by Wayne Muller
       People in the U.S. live in a culture that works against rest and reflection.  Wayne Muller addresses that issue in Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives, which has been selected as the next book of choice by Interfaith Winston-Salem's interfaith book club.
       While the word “sabbath” has Judeo-Christian overtones, the word actually applies to anyone who seeks to rediscover the necessary rhythm of life, the balance between rest and work. 
        If you would like to participate in the book club and this important search, you can purchase a copy of Sabbath online. Used books are available for less than 10 cents plus shipping. The Interfaith Winston-Salem book club will discuss the book at 6:30-8 p.m. Tuesday, July 14 at Highland Presbyterian Church.
        Millennia ago, the tradition of sabbath created an oasis of sacred time within a life of unceasing labor. Muller shows us how to create a special time of rest, delight, and renewal--a refuge for our souls. He says we need not even schedule an entire day each week. Sabbath time can be an afternoon, an hour, a walk. He teaches us how we can use this time of sacred rest to refresh our bodies and minds, restore our creativity, and regain our birthright of inner happiness.

We Thank Our Financial Supporters
With your donations you make it possible for Interfaith Winston-Salem to offer its programs at no cost to participants. For your convenience, tax-deductible online contributions to Interfaith Winston-Salem can be made using the donate button on our home page.  We thank you for your support in the past and encourage you to join the following generous people who have made contributions in 2015:

Joe and Martha Allman
Anonymous (2)
Jim and Johnne Armentrout
Carolyn and John Ashburn
Philip and Vicky Auchincloss
Art Bloom
Dale and Linda Brown
Laura Brown
Lynn Brown
Centenary United Methodist Church Circle 9
Woody Clinard
Jim and Anne Collins
Terri and John Davis III
Shirley Deane
Lynn Dixson
Truman Dunn
Debbie Gough
Sandra Gramley
Jeanette Griffin
Nicky R. Jamison
Aaron LaVallee
Michael Lange
Linda Lewis
Seretha Masdon
JoAnn and David F. Mount
Louise Mundy
Nancy M. Murray
Sybil and Jerry McLeese
Paula Northrup
Oldtown School PTA
Andrea Parker
Sarah Penry
Sandy Phocas
Rollin and Elizabeth Russell
Bob and Rebecca Schwartz
Bonnie Sue Smith
Jane Sobie
Chad Stephens
Susan Stevens
Mary Ben Stroupe
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Winston-Salem
Alan Williams
Kim Williams
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