By Tony Allicino

The second of three articles by Tony on shamanism at Easton Mountain.

Next month, gay men who practice the ancient healing principles and methods of shamanism will again gather at Easton Mountain. This will be their tenth retreat on Easton’s welcoming land.

Shamanic drummers

Each of the previous retreats was shaped and crafted with a theme, oftentimes based on a seasonal energy and/or visionary inspiration. Permission has always been granted for spontaneous, fluid experiences to unfold.

Themes of these nine retreats:

  • 2007 – Shamanism as Gay Power: Gay Men Living on the Edge
  • 2008 – Power through Community
  • 2009 – The Soul and the Horizon
  • 2010 - A Rite of Spring
  • 2011 - Stepping Off the Cliff – The Fool
  • 2012 - Resonating with the Ancestors
  • 2013 - Recalibrating Your Shaman’s Path
  • 2015 - Nurturing & Cultivating Your Shamanism Practice
  • 2016 - We Are Each Other’s Harves

Listing the retreats bids me think about them: the eighty-five men who attended, the healing work undertaken. I smile deeply, with much gratitude.

There have been changes - all of them good in their perfect expression of impermanence. David left as facilitator after 2007 to pursue new spiritual opportunities; Tom bowed out after 2011 as he moved towards retirement; and Jay Thomas, who attended the 2015 retreat, joined me as the retreat’s co-facilitator in 2016.

Materials for making ritual objects

While change is inevitable, some things are anchored in tradition. We begin each retreat with smudging and the call to welcome our Spirit Allies. The shamanic journey, the method to shift from Ordinary to Non-Ordinary Reality to receive information from Spirit Allies, is a core foundation. We celebrate our place within the Web of Life with song, dance, ceremony, rituals, being with nature was we walk the land, and crafting objects which transmute into sacred tools.

Man at tree

Our ceremonies and rituals have taken many forms. Each has a specific intention. Many are done to honor an Element.

  • Fire ceremonies in the High Meadow, no matter the weather, are conducted to release blockages, to manifest intentions, and at times to acknowledge and feed the ancestors.
  • Water rituals cleanse emotions and bless us with the wisdom of flowing.
  • Air ceremonies acknowledge the power of words: For example, we collectively wove two very large braids that held spoken prayers. We tied them to a two-trunk tree near Easton Mountain’s original talking circle. They have since caught the air of many seasons.
  • Earth rituals connect us with Mother Earth and all our relations: For example, we built a Medicine Wheel near the pond, and another time planted handmade wild flower “seed bombs” in various locations on the land.
  • At several retreats, Pipe Carriers conducted a traditional Pipe Ceremony. 
  • One year, an attendee poured a ceremonial Sweat Lodge.
Men outdoors

The Wheel of Life turns once again. Next month gay/queer/bi/trans shamanic practitioners will wend their way to Easton Mountain to celebrate our tenth gathering - our theme: "Embracing Balance and Honoring Milestones." These men will bring their medicine, grace, power, and wisdom adding layers upon the retreats’ history. They will again be blessed by Easton Mountain’s Spirits and Nature.

The tenth annual Gay Men's Shamanic Retreat will be held September 22-24, 2017.