I am a shamanic practitioner, teacher, writer, and founder of the Three Ravens College of Therapeutic Shamanism.
I was born and grew up in the north of England. At the age of eighteen I went to Lancaster University where I studied philosophy and anthropology, primarily studying tribal (shamanic) cultures. After graduating I found there were not many jobs in that field! So, I worked for a few years in a hospital, teaching sign language, and in my spare time studied complementary medicine, various spiritual traditions, and psychotherapy. I set up in private practice as a complementary medical practitioner and psychotherapist in the early 1980s. Apart from a few years heading up a counselling department at a Further Education college, I have been self-employed as a therapist ever since. As well as one-to-one client work, I have also been a teacher, trainer, and supervisor for nearly thirty years.
I had several intense shamanic experiences in my early life, although at the time I did not know what to call them. At university, I was drawn to studying shamanic cultures, although at the time the word 'shamanism' was still not used that often in academic circles (at the time they were generally still referred to as 'primitive cultures').
I first consciously come across shamanism in my 20s, attending workshops that various teachers were running at the time. Although I found it interesting, I was also training as a psychotherapist at the same time, and I found the lack of ethics and abuse of power that I saw going on in the shamanic workshops to be disturbing. So, I gave up actively pursuing it (although with hindsight it never actually left me). In my 30s, a series of events completely took me apart mentally, emotionally and spiritually, and literally nearly killed me. It was during the slow process of emerging from that crisis that shamanism burst back into my awareness. Over the next few years of healing, shamanism felt like a very private part of my life; an intensely private practice just between me and my guides, and something I discussed with very few people. Although I was a teacher, the idea of teaching shamanism felt out of the question at that time, as shamanism felt like something that I would always only be a beginner at. Again, with hindsight, I certainly would have been nowhere near capable of teaching it, really teaching it, at the time. It was not until my early-forties that my guides started to nag me about teaching it. I resisted for years. My guides persisted, and quite reluctantly I began to weave bits of shamanic work into the other teaching that I was comfortable with. What astonished me was the way some people took to it and thirsted for more of it. It did though, take another near-death experience for me to finally give in, and stop being the reluctant teacher. These days I am filled daily with a deep gratitude (and still with some astonishment) that I can devote my life to practising and teaching shamanism, and that people want to learn with me.
Otherwise, I lead a quiet life. A couple of years ago my partner and I were fortunate enough to be able to move to North Wales, to live a life more in contact with nature. I am an introvert, and after teaching I need a lot of solitude and quiet to re-charge. I spend most of my days writing, walking on the beach or in the hills, watching clouds and sunsets, gardening, cooking for my partner, holding her hand, reading, researching on the internet (there is so much I still want to learn and study!), thinking, feeling, occasionally wrestling inner demons, doing nothing in particular, talking to my guides, and gazing adoringly at my cat.
Paul Francis, 2017.