Altar 2016

I have been using some tried and tested  techniques from shamanism (the most ancient spiritual practice known to humankind) to support my eldest son through his GSCE exam period (general exams for all 16 year olds in the UK). Yesterday the thought occurred: what about writing a blog about this topic. I can’t be the only parent in search of a “spiritual toolkit for exam periods”. As the author of the upcoming book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit for Life (using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages), maybe I am the right person to write this?!

So what have I been doing with my son?! Here are some very basic things anyone can do:

Powering up!

When we start a new day of life or before we do any spiritual work we power up, meaning that we greet our allies and helping spirits and align ourselves with beings more powerful than ourselves in the other worlds. My son knows how to do this for himself (for him this means calling in his power animals: e.g. his Clan of Monkey Spirits). Before he leaves the house I always stop him in his tracks for a moment: focus, call in your allies, wipe all other concerns from your mind for the next few hours…

However, my son has also asked me to do some work on his behalf. At 8.45 am on school days you will find me standing by my altar: drumming, rattling singing. (Not only for him, also for family members, clients, students and colleagues who have asked for spiritual support).  Next I make the procedure a little more specific: e.g. my son had a Poetry exam recently, so I call in the full “society of dead poets” and ask them to watch over his shoulder and guide his hands. For an exam in mathematics I call on the great mathematicians of all time. For Newtonian type of physics they study in secondary school I call in Isaac Newton and others.

And so it goes…. I always get the feeling that these great spirits love being of help. The essence of those great minds lives on outside time (one of shamanism’s great teachings) and you may call on them –  in my experience there is always an instant response. – And isn’t that cool, seeing your son walk up the Hill in his school uniform accompanied by Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin and a veritable society of long-dead poets? I love the teachings and potential of shamanism!!

A few more pointers:

“Revision Parties” & Extra attention on your son or daughter’s emotional life

For most parents unconditional support is a given at any time in a child’s life. However, as they grow older (and taller than us, very independent and opinionated!) there can be a tendency to get busier with our own personal and professional lives and miss those little hints that something isn’t quite right. That lovely boy who used to drop in three times a week – why hasn’t he been here for nearly two months now? Have they fallen out? Has something happen in their friendship group?? My own son’s first serious girlfriend broke up with him (after 17 months together!) just before the exams started. He was feeling rough and in the end we hosted a “Revision Party” with unlimited supplies of chocolate and crisps. It was really a getting-over-the-girlfriend party but we couldn’t call it that! A posse of teenagers came, dressed up in animal costumes (that I keep around the house for workshops), played four-handed piano and actually studied some physics. My son was his normal self after that. Equilibrium had returned, phew!

This is obviously a very tricky area: some teens want to talk and others feel the last person they’d ever speak to is the weird creature commonly known as a parent. The trick is to be available but not in their face. They will talk to you when it suits them  – not when it suits you. In our house this means me settling down again for a long midnight conversation when I was just heating a mug of milk for bed at 10.30 pm. Losing sleep (daily, large amounts of it!)  is definitely the lesser evil when compared to losing touch with the emotional life of a teenager…

This brings me to the following points:


A Spiritual Toolkit for navigating Tempests created by Teenagers

I have discovered that the general principles of shamanism (and shamanic healing) work perfectly well for the dilemmas that this age group runs into. With my son I am reinforcing the following core principles@

  •  Fair Energy Exchange – in all of your relationships/friendships observe how energy is flowing. Does it freely flow both ways? Do you support your friend and does he or she support you back? When it becomes one-sided, something tilts out of balance. A heaviness sets in. Time to renegotiate?!  Example: my son has been going to parties but he is very anti-alcohol at the moment (“I can’t afford to lose brain cells when I want to get into a good university long-term!”) This meant that at parties his friends get drunk but he gets involved in cleaning up vomit and seeing them home safely etc. He does not find this role totally enjoyable. In the end I have said to him: when a friendship starts to feel like “social work” you may just want to reflect on the energy balance. He took that on board.
  • Reflection on what we can control and can’t control Change the things I can and accept the things I cannot change (the Serenity Prayer is very useful here, I will paste the first part below) – My son has a heavy dose of teenage idealism, meaning that he doesn’t always see clearly where the line goes between “what we can control”, “what it not worth even trying to control” and “where we can actually make positive changes by shifting our own perception”. Lucky for me he has always been a talkative child. He processes things by talking them through. This means I am on an intensive course in understanding the world of teenagers (because I work in a professional capacity with them as well, meaning I see a wider range of expressions, boys/girls, all ages…)

God/Higher Power grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.

  • Inner Work with Noticeable Results Around Us – When we cannot engage with something “externally” (meaning: in the world around us) we can always work on things internally. We can put focus on things, we can hand issues over to spirit allies for safe keeping or resolving, we can ask our power animals to go talk to the other person’s power animal and ease the way between us and so forth. There are always more options that we commonly realize when we get frustrated. (Teenagers often feel frustrated: they have the bodies of adults but not yet the freedom of choice and lifestyle that adults have).
  • You remain responsible for your own choices and actions, no matter what another person does!- My son has been on quite a journey with this one. He is a little hot-tempered and has an over-developed sense of fairness. So he gets upset when people break promises or mess around with the feelings of others in any way. On a few occasions I have had to invite him to express his anger (safely, without directing it at anyone) but then think long and hard: what kind of person do I choose to be? Do I choose to meet this person on their level of functioning or do I set my own code of ethics for how I behave and respond? On reflection my son will agree that he needs to actively choose his own actions. Meaning that he is acting, not re-acting to others the whole time.
  • When we set strong intentions, energetically speaking we set events in motion. E.g. my son felt he needed to to talk to someone in private who was blanking him in school. I helped him formulate a strong intention for what he actually wanted most of all: meet up privately, after school, and discuss whatever is going on. My son didn’t believe for one minute that this would produce a result. He said: “OK Mum, we try this and maybe by the end of the school year something will happen” (this was in March). The next day he came home from school and reported that this person had approached him and asked to meet up after school.  My son was suddenly very much impressed by “the stuff shamanic teacher mother is peddling”!
  • Calling on the ancestors: I often light a candle for our ancestors and speak to them. We even have an area in our house we call The Ancestor Gallery, where all photographs and names are up on the wall and there is cupboard for heirlooms and mementos. In this period I especially call on those ancestors who share the same talents and interests as my son. After all they were passed down the bloodline, they didn’t come out of nowhere! I thank them for watching over him and nudging him in the right direction during exams. And I have no doubt that they do this. They are only too happy to be asked!

Last but not least:

Teenagers are fully fledged sexual beings…

I could go on and on – but I won’t! However, one final thing I want to say is this: by the time young people are 16 years old, they are fully fledged sexual beings. The statistics tells us that young people are sexually active at an earlier age than we ourselves (perhaps) were. However you privately feel about this, it is a fact of modern life. With my own son I recently made some comment that my child-bearing days are in the past and that any babies arriving in our family might just be courtesy of son #1, one day. Grandma (my own mother, who happened to be visiting) was aghast and accused me of “promoting teenage pregnancy in my house” – am I mad or what?!

However, my son looked quite pleased to be acknowledged as capable of fathering a child but he said: “Not for years and years Mum! I still remember vividly what it was like when my baby brother (son #3) was born and I want to enjoy my years of freedom before I embark on any of that!” So he and I were in total agreement and he gave me a lovely smile. I knew that we had understood each other. Only grandma (aged 77 1/2) nearly had a heart attack. A different generation and my mother has always been “elderly” in her approach to life. I doubt that this is going to change as she sails through her 8th decade on the planet!

If you like the sound of using shamanism in parenting and you do want more, I invite you to check out my book….. The date of publication is 26 August 2016 but the book can be pre-ordered on Amazon. I have been told that most likely you will receive your copy on July if you do. And it has been listed as “a hot release in shamanism” with the potential to reach best-seller status…. How did that happen?!

Imelda Almqvist

Imelda Almqvist is a teacher of shamanism and sacred art based London UK. She teaches internationally. Her paintings can be found in art collections all over the world.

Imelda’s courses take place in the fertile place where art meets shamanism. The focus is on engaging in innovative ways with Mystery School material. Her 2 year sacred art practitioner training will run in Philadelphia in 2017/2018.

Imelda pioneered a shamanic program for young people called The Time Travellers. It offers safe group space for children and teenagers to develop a viable spiritual toolkit.

Her book “Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life”, (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) will be published by Moon Books this summer.  Imelda is currently recording a series of radio segments by the same title for Shamanic Life Radio with John Carosella.

She will appear on the Shamanism Global Summit hosted by The Shift Network in July this summer and The Shift Network will also host Sandra Ingerman interviewing Imelda about her work with young people. (Those links have not yet gone live).

Imelda has three sons. She loves travelling, learning foreign languages, playing the cello and making short films. The most extreme thing she has ever done is assisting with eye surgery in a field hospital in Bangladesh! One of the most life-changing things she has ever done is teaching art and design  to slum children and teenagers in Lima, Peru.