One does not become a shaman. One is born one, forget and learn to remember… Although it took me a bit over three decades to actually “remember”, I now have no doubt that I was born one and lived the first few years of my life fully connected to Spirits; I could not fit into my human family who was rejecting me in the most horrible ways so I was spending the nights staring at the sky and talking to the Stars. This helped me survive against all odds. Back then, I was convinced that I would never grow to become an adult and that I would soon be back to ‘The Light’; but I have always promised Spirits (or whomever I was talking to) that if I did survive, it would be to serve the World…
I was introduced and initiated to shamanism in different cultures while I was working as an international peacebuilder, trying to identify local resources that could support people’s resilience in the aftermath of widespread violence. For 30 years, I have traveled, lived and worked around the world as an activist, a practitioner and a researcher, committed to support local communities in situations of extreme violence. This professional path was directly informed by a personal history of violence and multiple traumas ever since I was born. As a very young child, while I often struggled to stay alive, I was constantly inhabited by questions way bigger than me about what life was about and what being human meant. I could not understand why I was brought to Earth and what the purpose of all of it was.
At the same time, very early on, I made a very clear connection between my individual story and the larger story of violence and abuse around the world. As long as I (and my teachers) can remember, I have been passionate about the state of the world, asking difficult questions, sounding way too ‘political’ for my young age. This prompted me to make very clear choices (like studying the Theology of Liberation when I was a teen) and to start working on political violence and human rights before I was even 20. From there, circumstances of life put me in situations where I worked more directly in war and post-war situations, and later on, even more explicitly in situations where large massacres had been committed. This professional and personal experience has influenced a lot of who I am today, much more than where I grew up (in France). I have lived extremely different lives in very different places, cultures and circumstances. I have learnt the worst and the best of humanity and of myself.
For the outside world, it was a very successful career. I hold a master degree and a PhD — even though studies and diploma have always come to me after real life experience. I have worked as a practitioner with the United Nations, non governmental organizations and local communities in over 30 countries on all continents; and I have visited more than 90 countries in the course of my career. I have advised several governments and international organizations at the highest level of the decision making process. I also had a successful academic career as a researcher and University professor, and taught in the most prestigious universities around the world. I received awards (including two consecutive Fulbright Commission awards, one of them as a New Century Scholar) and my research was supported by grants from the most prestigious foundations in North America and Europe. I published several books and numerous articles, reports and contributions in different languages.
“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become”
It was also a very full life as I was literally traveling around the world all the time, coordinating pluri-disciplinary teams on four continents, navigating between field work and international arena, and never really stopping… Until I burnt out… and did not have a choice but to stop. And in the process of stopping and working on healing myself, I went through a huge spiritual re-awakening. I don’t think any word can convey this type of crisis. It was scary, very painful (including physically). I did not know anything like it was possible. The stories I was given to read about mystics in different traditions or near death experiences were clearly mirroring what was happening to me but they were not reassuring, to say the least…
Along those many years of traveling the world and working with local healers, I had been told repeatedly that I was a shaman and a healer myself and needed to “remember”… I knew that some sort of psychic ability was clearly helping me in the very demanding work I was doing, as I was able to partly rely on a somewhat unusual ability to deeply ‘understand,’ ‘feel’ and even ‘see’ people stories before they would tell me anything… So I intuitively knew that something deeper in me was calling to come to the surface. But I was not ready to listen to it, probably lacking the courage I had as a little girl. Now, I did not have a choice. I struggled with the call (a lot!) and had to go deep into my despair for the World, into the pain of so many lives lost around me, into the horror of too many absurd and violent deaths that I could not stop, into my failure to save humanity… I had to go there to fully come back to life, hungrier for it and more committed than ever. I still deeply feel and cry for the tragedies in our World and the individual dramas that I see every day but I have learned to fully embrace them, from a place of Light. And I choose to focus on life, on what is still intact, perfect, beautiful in every human being and situation. I have also made a commitment to myself to be happy. To make a long story short: I did an apprenticeship with a shaman in the US, and was given the name“Allowing The Light” because of my deep connection to The Light as the main source to facilitate healing and transformation. I went back to work with indigenous shamans, in particular in South America, and went through additional initiations. I was also trained in cranio-sacral therapy as well as Mindfulness meditation (Vipassana) which I practice on a daily basis and teach. I have also been a volunteer baby cuddler at the hospital with babies struggling with great suffering in the early phase of their life. Those babies have been among my best teachers, along with the children that I have fostered, as a single Foster (and now also Adoptive) Mom.
Stepping into practicing as a shamanic healer was a further step which I took fifteen years ago; I decided to quit a tenure position at the University and moved to live in the forest, surrounded by nature, experiencing a different form of solitude. Since then, I have facilitated thousands of shamanic healings and mentored hundreds of people, enjoying the humility and beauty of this one-on-one process.
As my two “worlds” have been increasingly merging, I have also been continuing to support trauma healing and resilience in societies experiencing high levels of violence (particularly in the Middle East), for civilians and soldiers coming back from war (PTSD, multiple traumas and burn out), as well as local non violent activists and peace builders.
I also mentor healers, community and spiritual leaders here, in the United States.
My healing work is also directly informed by the international research I am currently leading with neuroscientists, spiritual and social leaders, researching the infinite possibilities of neuroplasticity to transform trauma, fear, separation and hate, and create a more humane world. The knowledge and tools that we are developing, based on spiritual practices, are an integral part of what I am bringing into the healing room.
However, none of this replaces Spirits’ work. The most important lesson I have learnt over and over along the years has probably less to do with what I know than what I don’t know. Indeed, I have learnt to forget, each time, everything I may think that I know and listen deeply to each person, and to what Spirits want to bring to them, allowing what is needed to come through in the moment. I consider my role as a shaman as one of a facilitator, assisting each person (each group in a training or community ritual setting) in their own self-healing, self-discovery and self-opening to new avenues of transformation, growth and creativity. I pay a particular attention to each person’s needs and create a safe, sacred and loving space for each session.
Being and bringing Love Light to the world is what I was born to do and will never cease to do in different ways, one person, one community, one day at a time.