Hello, and welcome to the world of feminist shamanism! Whether you’re looking for basic information about shamanism in general, specific information about feminist shamanism, seeking a shamanic teacher, or searching for a good shamanic reading list, it’s my hope that you’ll find whatever information you’re looking for here on this site. There’s a lot of it available, but please don’t be overwhelmed by that. Take your time, browse around, and if you don’t find what you’re looking for, you can always email me with questions using the site’s contact form. I’d love to hear from you!
Scarlet Kinney & Standing Bear
How I Became
So that you can better understand who I am and why I do what I do, I want to share with you how it was that I, a white woman of Irish-Catholic ancestry, came to be walking a shaman’s path.
In July of 1988, I survived a sudden shamanic initiation trial by fire during a propane explosion in which I was severely burned. In response to the trauma I was experiencing during that event, my consciousness left my body and fled towards the relief of death. Floating serenely in a vast, dark space towards an arching doorway through which brilliant light was shining, I calmly welcomed death, which seemed preferable to dealing with the horrific injuries my body was sustaining. My way towards death was suddenly blocked, however, by five large, looming shapes. Having been raised Catholic, at first I assumed that they were angels of some kind, but as I gazed at them in wonder, their indistinct shapes slowly clarified into the forms of huge grizzly spirits. The largest of them, who later identified himself to me as Standing Bear, Chief of the Bear Spirit Clan, spoke. I immediately recognized him as someone once known, but long forgotten. He asked me if I was willing to “return to the body,”as there was “a work” his clan wished me to do for them.
To my great surprise, I spontaneously answered, “Yes. I will return to the body and do the work you’re asking me to do,” as though our agreement had been made in some distant, long-forgotten time, and the shock of my injuries had enabled me to remember it.
He replied that he and his four helpers would facilitate my healing from the severe burns I was sustaining. He leaned towards me, and pressing his forehead against mine, somehow transmitted from his consciousness into mine what I could only identify at the time as a long series of incredibly fast-moving, densely compressed images. He then asked me to look down at my body, which was trapped in the inferno far below us. As I did so, he touched my heart. At his touch, I felt a profound compassion for the body’s suffering that mysteriously compelled me towards it at a very high rate of speed, literally slamming me back into it.
I got myself out of the fire and into a shower in another room, to try and put out the flames, then ran from the building, tore off my still smoking clothing, and ran into my neighbor’s house, where I turned the cold water on in her shower and stood under it, trying to soothe the fire that was consuming me.
My journey was initially fraught with vulnerability, conflict, self-doubt, and emotional volatility (note that grizzlies are not known for their placid temperaments!) made the more difficult to handle initially because I had absolutely no frame of reference for understanding what had happened to me. But as the years have passed, that journey has also been rich with experiences of power and healing, of great beauty, and of potent, numinous dreams and visions that have helped sustain me throughout the most difficult times.
During this time, I have had two Native American teachers, both women. In addition to these experiential studies in shamanism, I decided to earn an M. A. in Mythological Studies with an Emphasis on Depth Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute, as, not being part of a tribal culture, I felt a need to ground my personal experience in a broad, pan-cultural understanding of mythic and shamanic realities.
Because I have experienced a great deal of hardship and long periods of social isolation here on the Maine coast, I have often wanted to move to a more shamanically active or aware locale. (The most common response when I mention shamanism is “What’s that?”) However, my guidance from the Bear Spirit Clan over the years has consistently been to remain where I am, as Standing bear has informed me time and again that my shamanic energy is needed at this particular place on earth to maintain balance and harmony among the many volatile energies inhabiting it.
When I am not creating shamanic art of some kind, I can often be found maintaining that balance during long medicine walks in the coastal forest or along the rocky shores of the bay near my home. I have created this web site, along with my music CDs, fine art prints and writings, as a kind of bridge between my deeply private creative shamanic process and you, in the hope that you will be able, in viewing or reading or listening to my work, to experience for yourself some of the wonderfully healing shamanic energy that informs and supports the work.