We might not have enough people to form a shamanism class or a poetry class, the two classes I'm registered to teach at the Danube Cultural Insitiute in Vienna (http://www.dciv.at/) starting at the end of January 04. Classes there need at least five students, and between them, there are only seven or eight people who have expressed interest. So my current thought is to combine the two subjects.
In 1991, when I had just graduated from college in the United States, I taught a class at a local high school that was similar to the one I'm imagining now. It was called "Myth and Story." It was brilliant and I've never had a chance to do anything like it again.
The connection between poetry and shamanism is that poetry has its ancient roots in shamanism, which included magical language--prayers, spells and so forth--as well as storytelling.
I feel it's valuable for poets today to return to the sources of inspiration: nature and their own hearts.
In American schools, sharing and critiquing poems is called "workshopping." People come to class with poems and distribute them; everyone reads other people's work as homework; and in the next class, they discuss what they've read, being helpful and supportive.
Class activities in the DCIV poetry/shamanism class would include workshopping, writing, reading aloud, and learning simple Ecuadorian shamanic techniques-- verbal, somatic, and material-- for sensing and working with energy. These techniques will in turn inform our poetry.
At the end of the ten weeks, we can, if the students wish, hold a performance at the DCIV for family and friends.
© Labyrinth 1999