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Tag: Shamanism

3rd Publishers Weekly’s Review of My Books

Front Cover for Healing Wisdom Book 4 (300)

It’s difficult to get one book reviewed by Publishers Weekly let alone 3 books! But it can happen – as it did in my case, 3 books in a row!

Much love to my teachers Lynn V. Andrews and Nancy who worked with me on this fourth and final year of Lynn’s 4-year school.

Publishers Weekly review:

Accomplished spiritual coach and author Namou (The Flavor of Cultures) concludes her four-part memoir by describing her final year in Lynn Andrews’s shamanic school, Storm Eagle. Her new mentor, for the fourth year of the school, is Nancy. Just as in the other three books of this series, this new spiritual teacher has a profound impact on Namou’s journey. Nancy explains that the fourth year is about the apprentices working on themselves and that the year is designed to “help you come out into the world.”

A major portion of the book focuses on the preparation for the graduation ritual, and the ritual itself, which Namou describes in detail that draws the reader in. Familiar names from the previous books in this series make appearances. By the conclusion of this fourth book, it is apparent how Namou has benefitted as a person and writer. The weaving of family life and spiritual life throughout the series helps forge Namou into the person she is today, and she uses what she has learned to help others on their spiritual paths.

Link to full review http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-945371-94-3

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Publishers Weekly Review of My Book

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Spiritual coach Namou (The Flavor of Cultures) describes her personal journey in this first volume of her four-part memoir. It begins with a phone conversation between Namou and author Lynn Andrews that was an essential part of Namou’s development; quotes and themes taken from this conversation are woven throughout the book, which recounts how Namou processed and came to terms with her childhood arrival in Detroit, Mich., after emigrating from Baghdad at the age of nine.

Andrews encourages Namou to participate in the Mystery School, a lineage of learning based on Native American shamanic teachings, and this brings Namou a sense of release from the traumatization of being suddenly uprooted at such an early age to move to a vastly different culture.

This thorough and descriptive first installment includes a deep look into her Iraqi past and Chaldean Christian background, and explores how that spiritual upbringing has influenced her present life. Spiritual terms and symbols that could be new to some readers are explained well throughout the book. Readers interested in personal journeys of faith will be eager to follow Namou along her spiritual path. (BookLife).

To read original post, visit:  http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-9776790-3-4

The Healing Circle

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Exactly a year ago today I sat in front of Lynn Andrews during what’s called the Healing Circle as she brought me to the very place she took me to the first time we talked four years prior – Baghdad. The city which I thought I had let go of, which I wanted to put behind me, kept pulling me in its direction. What did this city want from me? Why wouldn’t it let me be? Or what did I want from it? Why did I keep holding on?

Those questions were finally answered and that part of my story finally released. Healing Wisdom for a Wounded World: My Life-Changing Journey through a Shamanic School (Book 4) is the fourth and final of the four-book memoir series of my apprenticeship in Lynn’s school. One major lesson I learned in this school is that you can create a new interpretation that takes you out of your past and into the present and a new future. You do that once you identify the story that is running your life. You release that story and are then able to pursue your dreams while enjoying healthy relationships and living a sacred family life. In this school, through the ancient teachings and with the help of my wise teachers, I used my storytelling abilities to change my narrative and, since then, I’ve helped others transform their lives by changing their own narratives.

For over two decades, medical practice has increasingly recognized the significance of what’s come to be called “narrative medicine” to the person’s healing. Narrative medicine is a wholesome medical approach that recognized the value of people’s narrative in clinical practice, research, and education as a way to promote healing.

A number of medical schools such as Columbia University now have Narrative Medicine master’s program. Columbia states on their website that “The effective practice of healthcare requires the ability to recognize, absorb, interpret, and act on the stories and plights of others. Medicine practiced with narrative competence is a model for humane and effective medical practice. It addresses the need of patients and caregivers to voice their experience, to be heard and to be valued, and it acknowledges the power of narrative to change the way care is given and received.”

Since I graduated from Lynn’s school a year ago, I’ve watched various discussions about shamanism, what it is or isn’t, who is considered a real shaman and who isn’t. I just observe and listen and think of how I entered into a shamanic school not knowing what shamanism was, not knowing who Lynn Andrews was, but wanting to change my story. It was toward the end of the second year that I googled the word shamanism and learned, for the first time, its real definition. This was not a matter of ignorance, but of innocence, of trusting God to lead me in the right direction.

Available on Amazon

Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/Healing-Wisdom-Wounded-World-Life-Changing/dp/1945371943/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1477997035&sr=8-3&keywords=Weam+Namou

eBook: https://www.amazon.com/Healing-Wisdom-Wounded-World-Life-Changing-ebook/dp/B01LYMYLRR/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1477997102&sr=8-1&keywords=Weam+Namou%2C+eBook

A Conversation with a Native American about Shamanism

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This is a conversation I had with the Native American man I’ve known for decades who I call in my books the Red Indian. This portion is about shamanism and is taken from my memoir series but one day I will write a book solely about him because he has fascinating perspectives worth sharing.

When we spoke about shamanism, he said, “Shamanism was like a society that made sure people stay well. The society policed themselves. All Natives have different societies inside their tribe, a group of people that study the same things, like the plants, the animals, the stars, the rocks. It’s like your writers group. It’s a society.” He paused momentarily before he continued. “You know what the dreamcatcher is? It was a society that disbanded, and the dreamcatcher was given away to the people. That’s why there’s a dream catcher hanging in everyone’s car or in their house or key chains.”

“Why are some natives very angry that people use the word shamanism to describe healing?” I asked.

“Because some people are belittling everything around them to look more powerful than everyone else when in fact it’s the other way around. Everyone is more powerful than them.”

“But if it’s a good thing, wouldn’t it make more sense for natives to share this knowledge with people and educate them?”

“We’ve done this all along. We shared everything with people. We felt it was our duty to share and as soon as they found out, they put us in jails and killed us. As it says in the bible, don’t throw your pearls before swine. We were a very giving people. We fed people and gave information, and what came back to us was some guy hanging on the tree. Wow! It went from giving good things all around the world to receiving back very, very bad things. Most native people that I know are pretty quiet on what they say. It’s not that it’s a secret, but it’s a society, like doctors in the hospital who no one sees. They gather and discuss certain issues and no one knows about it, not even the nurses.”

“I read somewhere that one reason natives get angry about how others use the word shamanism is because Hollywood misuses and abuses this word.”

“Natives had a very hard time with Hollywood,” he said. “You know what Hollywood is? Holly wood is the stick that comes from the holly tree, and Merlin was the king’s magician in Europe who would go around the country like a politician telling people what’s good for them and why they should vote for him. Historically, magician’s wand is made of holly wood. Magicians were good at what they did and made people believe there was magic behind it all when it was really an illusion.”

“Couldn’t an illusion be the same as reality?”

“If you want to believe that way, yeah,” he said. “It’s like believing the sun comes up at six o’clock at night. It’s not real. It’s an illusion. If you believe it, it’s real to you but it’s not real to nature. That’s what an illusion is. It’s a trick. So people who call themselves shamans are for natives just an illusion, trying to call themselves something that’s not real. On the other hand, there are people that can do a cause-and-effect on earth here. It’s usually not personal. Of course, it’s a prayer. You ask the Creator to do something. If people say they can do it themselves, they’re probably a pretty big devil. It’s one evil person trying to cause something for themselves or other people and that’s not good. When you ask something from the Creator, then it’s the best thing for you. It might not be what you want, but it’s the best thing for you. Oh Lord, I need patience, and I need it right now!”

He laughed at the irony, and we were silent for a moment.

“The reason I mentioned Hollywood is because that’s the magician’s wand, and it’s not real. The whole Hollywood thing is not real. They depict something and tell a story, have you believe it’s real and of course it’s not real.”

“It’s like that movie Captain Phillips. They made him a hero when he jeopardized the lives of his crew. Even though the people on the ship came out and told the truth, no one did anything about the non-truth. They did not boycott the film. It was accepted as is.”

“That’s what I mean,” he said. “There are people that relish in the thought of shamanism. Anyone with this much authority that can create the cause-and-effect of things is very humble, and they wouldn’t want you to think of them as a magician. They wouldn’t call themselves shamans to begin with and they would have much experience because they take care of a lot of people, children and grandchildren and those who come to them with problems. They’re normally wiser people. Generations of people make wise, not fifteen minutes of class.

“Just because a person is old doesn’t mean they’re wise. Some portray elderly native people as very wise, bla, bla, bla, but to native people, a baby could be very wise. No one person is greater than another. Wise people make decisions with consideration to the seven generations that are not born as opposed to what I need right now. I can make a decision for something I want right now, but it might not be a good thing for my grandchildren. A decision can be made by looking at the seven generations behind and the seven generations to come. It’s harder to look into the future than it is to look at the history. It’s still a consideration for the future.”

My Life-Changing Journey Through a Shamanic School

Front Cover (large)“The school helps you to be heard not just by others listening to you, but by you listening to yourself,” said Lynn Andrews during the second year of her four-year shamanic school. “You have to do that in order to create a mirror for yourself, for your act of power. We’re peeling away the clouds of ignorance that cloud your vision. Then you begin to see that you really do have something important and wonderful to say, and more and more you’re appreciating yourself. Patience and diligence are important in this.”

In the second year of the shamanic school, we focused on understanding how to bring form into the world; to experience holding energy and moving it out into the universe; to develop the ability to move energy into objects for healing and sacred work; to learn how to use sacred tools in a powerful way without manipulating ourselves or others; and to prepare for the building of dream bodies and develop the skills for lucid dreaming.

Lynn said to me, “You need to stay focused on one project and just get it done. You need to have faith in it and see it being strong and wonderful. I think you have a fabulous project. I wouldn’t blur it with other projects. And if you can, stop worrying about it. Just do it. If God wants to help you, He wouldn’t know what to do. You’re kind of all over the place.”

Her preciseness and honesty tasted like sugar cookies. They were sweet and light and yet extremely important. They helped me see why I kept hitting a slump.

“Stick with that, with the book,” she said. “Do it! Live it! You’re really onto something wonderful. If you were speaking to God, what would you tell him you want? Tell God what you want!”

I did.

 

Book 2 of my memoir series about this school was released today. It’s my 10th book to date and it’s available in paperback and eBook.

Healing Wisdom for a Wounded World: My Life-Changing Journey Through a Shamanic School (Book 2)

https://www.amazon.com/Healing-Wisdom-Wounded-World-Life-Changing/dp/1945371994/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1469275283&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=Healing+wisdom+for+a+wounded+world

Ancient Wisdom Council

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Photo by Zanna Pillars

One thing I learned in Lynn Andrews’ shamanic school is that if you feel something is missing in your life, become that something. In October 2014, I was at one of our gatherings with Lynn in L.A., and I asked whether there’s a council in Michigan that I can join. There are numerous councils in the United States and abroad that come together every month and pass on the teachings of Lynn and the Sisterhood of the Shields.

I was told there is not one in Michigan, and someone easily suggested, “Why don’t you start a council?”

So I returned home and started the Ancient Wisdom Council in early 2015. Each of our gatherings have had a unique, magical, and learning experience. Last week, during our April gathering, my council had the honor of receiving the Rainbow Bridge Altar Cloth, which was weaved together in 1990 at one of Lynn’s gathering at Joshua Tree. Since the time the cloth has been made, it has traveled the four directions, to the councils and certain individuals all over the country. This year it is also traveling in Europe. June Milich, the woman who weaved it wrote, “A journal travels with the cloth each year, carrying many of the magical stories which have been weaving themselves into the cloth.”

She adds, “In my heart I know this rainbow colored cloth is meant to be an inspiration – a bridge from what is now to what can be, a bridge from feeling separate and alone to feeling whole and all one.”

This, in my opinion, is a definition that also applies to the teachings of the Sisterhood of the Shields. And this is what the women experienced at the Ancient Wisdom Council gathering as they wrapped the rainbow cloth around them and, those who brought them, around their children.

 

To learn more about the councils around the world, visit http://lynnandrews.com/councils/

Shamanism, Bringing This World from Darkness into Light

Healing Wisdom  (FRONT COVER) (1)

For a long time, I struggled to fit into two worlds, my birth country of Iraq and my home, America. The process made me feel like a yo-yo, and oftentimes, like I was living a double life. It was especially difficult when I had to witness the wars on Iraq, the sanctions, the suffering that these political acts created, a suffering that still trails into our lives through television sets and other media outlets, holding up mirrors on how conflict can leave such awful residue on our souls.

From the time I was in my early twenties, my priorities have been family, writing and service. Though it had its challenges, combining family and writing was something I knew I could do and do it successfully. Combining writing and service, however, was questionable, especially after the 2003 U.S. led invasion when, for the first time in my life, I doubted the work I was in. While I loved being a writer, I figured what was the use of articulating thoughts and facts on paper when women were kidnapped and raped, men slaughtered, and children orphaned?

On the radio, on TV, in newspapers, online, everyone, including myself, put their two cents in. But women were still kidnapped and raped, men slaughtered, and children orphaned, in a place that I’d visited only three years prior, during a time when a woman such as myself could step out of the house wearing her Western clothing without anyone batting an eye let alone threatening to kill her, or simply killing her, if she didn’t veil and remove her makeup. True, people were tired then because of the UN imposed sanctions and Saddam’s regime but they were safe from the senseless and random violent acts that grabbed hold of the country like coyotes attacking a chicken hen. That also grabbed hold of me.

The violence drained my creativity and led me to a dark place where I lost my literary voice. Then I met a shaman, I met Lynn Andrews. Her teachings dusted off the residue that clogged up my creativity, one by one removing the particles of fear and sadness, eventually bringing me from darkness into light. These teachings also brought me, through my writings, to a place of service.

Once someone asked, “What is shamanism?” To me, shamanism is a healing, through love, through nature, through the Creator. It’s a natural way of living which had survived harmlessly for hundreds of thousands of years, for even longer, until the agricultural revolution occurred in ancient Mesopotamia, now called Iraq, when people began to control others through food production. Shamanism opened my heart and healed my voice, to where I was able to write full-time, today publishing my eighth book. It’s an ancient teaching that works in the twenty-first century, and I believe, will continue to expand and be embraced because we’re beginning to realize the benefits it offers our world.

 

Healing Wisdom for a Wounded World: My Life-Changing Journey Through a Shamanic School http://www.amazon.com/Healing-Wisdom-Wounded-World-Life-Changing/dp/0977679047/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1454348624&sr=8-2&keywords=Weam+Namou

I’m Most Grateful for Graduating this Year

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Morning of Graduation

When I graduated high school, I did not walk at commencements. I did not view my high school diploma as much of an accomplishment. When three years later, I received my bachelor’s degree from Wayne State University, I again did not walk at commencements. Although I enjoyed my college years and was happy to attain my degree, I felt there was something missing. I had a deep desire to learn more about myself and real life that seemed beyond what formal education could teach.

For the next two decades, I studied with various spiritual masters and took umpteen writing courses. All were wonderful experiences that helped me grow and flourish as a person and a writer, but most importantly, they led me to an extraordinary school, Lynn Andrews’ four-year shamanic school. I had initially signed up to the school to find my literary voice which had gotten lost by the pains of witnessing the Iraq war and by my enormous responsibilities as a wife and new mother.

I had no idea then that the school’s ancient teachings would not only heal old wounds that had muffled my literary voice, but that it would also improve my relationship with the Great Spirit, with myself, and with my family. The work was mystical but also very intense and challenging. I had to put my heart and soul into my family, home and career while doing the schoolwork because the purpose of these teachings is to incorporate what we learn into every aspect of our daily life.

Last month, I flew to Arizona to join other apprentices in a gathering where we graduated from Lynn’s school. This time, I walked at commencements in a most sacred ceremony.  I had taken a life-changing journey and was now surrounded by amazing women from all walks of life. For me, this was a real milestone that was worthy of celebration.

This Thanksgiving, I give special gratitude for graduating from a school that had, not long ago, only existed in my imagination.

For more information about Lynn and her school, you can visit her website: http://lynnandrews.com/

Writing To Change The World

       IMG_2734Writing Spirit called for me to pick it up like a child off the store’s bookshelves. It was an odd-looking book about writing. On the cover large palms came halfway out of the water, and in the table of contents, the chapter headings had words like power animals, shamanism, alchemy and baptism. None of it made sense to me, and the last thing I wanted was a book on writing. I had been writing for over twenty years, and the journey had proven so futile, I wanted to bury the pits of this desire into someone else’s backyard and start a new garden, one that resembled those in One Thousand and One Nights stories, where the hero ends up with breathtaking trees bearing pears, apples, figs, pomegranates, and apricots made of real gold, diamonds and rubies.

Yet the book stuck to my hands like glue.  I bought it, even though I barely had any time to eat a meal sitting down let alone read a book. I was raising two young children and doing a lot of freelance work, as well as trying to write a book. The moment I read Writing Spirit, however, the fragrance of that Arabian treasure garden raced out of the pages, and I remembered all the reasons I’d become a writer in the first place – the calling, the sacredness of storytelling, the freedom this profession provides, in my case allowing me to raise my children without having to abandon my career. Shortly afterwards, I enrolled in Lynn’s school, The Mystery School.

The Mystery School is a spiritual school that has, for over 25 years, passed down Native American shamanic teachings of 44 women known as the Sisterhood of the Shields. These women are healers from various cultures such as Panama, Guatemala, Australia, Nepal, North American and the Yucatan. Their teachings have been passed from one generation to the next for over 5,000 years. They initiated Lynn as a member of The Sisterhood and appointed her as their public messenger. Lynn’s study began with Agnes Whistling Elk and Ruby Plenty Chiefs, Native American healers in northern Canada. Lynn wrote about her own experience in Medicine Woman, and later, as she met with more of the women of the Sisterhood, wrote over a dozen more books. Her website describes her “as a major link between the ancient world of shamanism and modern societies’ thirst for profound personal healing and a deeper understanding of the pathway to enlightenment.”

I recently met Lynn in person and I discovered that the majority of her apprentices and graduates, who are from all over the world, were first introduced to the Sisterhood teachings by reading one of her books. Something in her books resonates within people the ancient healing and magic of long ago, thus bringing to life, through experiential learning, a connection to spirit and the earth.

  “You write in order to change the world, knowing perfectly well that you probably can’t, but also knowing that literature is indispensable to the world… The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you alter, even by a millimeter, the way people look at reality, then you can change it.”   —  James Baldwin

The Benefits of a Full Moon

Full Moon

One day when I was seven or eight years old, I spent the night at my niece’s house, who is six months older than me. We competed on who would stay up the latest and we had a race with the full moon on the rooftop of their home, where Iraqis slept in the summertime (before the Gulf War and the 2003 war when such endeavors became too dangerous). We ran this way and that way and what we couldn’t understand is how the moon followed me and followed her simultaneously even when we went in totally separate directions.

I’ve learned quite a bit about the moon since those days. According to shamanic teachings, the Full Moon is the strongest energetic phase of the moon, especially so as the night approaches midnight, a time when the masks of life between this world and the other world are most think. At this time magical powers will be at their peak.

This is the time where the universe is aligned for romance, high energy, and releasing things that don’t serve you. If you have missed the midnight deadline, you will not be like Cinderella when she lost her slippers. You still have time to sit down, reflect on what you want to give away, and do a little ceremony when actually giving it away. Then when the new moon comes, you will be empty enough to bring in and begin a new project.