August 10th, 2016 ~ Vol. 85 No. 31
The Herald chats up shamans of the Crowsnest Pass
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Ezra Black Photo
Long-time Pass residents and shamans Marv and Shanon Harwood offer their views on shamanic healing.
Pass Herald Reporter
Just as yoga, meditation, and other practices rooted in ancient, indigenous cultures were once relegated to the fringes of society, shamanism seems to be slowly moving into the mainstream.

Though shamanic practices and medicine men and women have been traced back to ancient Incan, Indian, and Egyptian civilizations, the term today is widely used as a catchall for spiritual healers.

If you’re looking for a shaman, you won’t need to look far because the Pass has its very own pair of them.

Long-time Pass residents Marv and Shanon Harwood say they’re shamanistic healers. Through their school called Kimmapii, the Harwoods teach three different shamanic streams or pathways. According to the Harwoods, these three alternate pathways all lead to the same ultimate goal of becoming “one with spirit.”

Kimmapii is a contraction of the Blackfoot phrase “Ikimmapii’ipiitsi”, the name reportedly given to the pair by spiritual elders, Joe and Josephine Crowshoe of the Piikaani Nation. It translates to “to help, to care”. In giving the name, the Crowshoes instructed the Harwoods to “help bridge the gap between people”.

The Pass Herald caught up with the Harwoods to ask them questions about their work as shamanistic healers.
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Pass Herald: So what is shamanism?

Shanon: It’s not just a mere philosophy. It’s a way to live your life. It’s a way that you choose to walk in the world. It’s not just a head thing, or a heart thing or even an action thing. It’s all of the above and it’s a conscious decision.

Marv: The way she’s talking about living is pretty much living in harmony with your surroundings as much as possible.

Pass Herald: I heard that part of shamanism meant taking full responsibility for everything that happens to you?

Shanon: Everything. Unfortunately or fortunately… That depends on how you look at it.

Pass Herald: How about when unpleasant things happen? Like when bad things happen to good people. How do you square that?

Marv: I don’t think it’s up to us to square it. What you do when you try to square something with a particular set of ideals, you’re coming from a point of what we call ‘consensual reality.’

Consensual reality is the phenomenon that tells you what to think, or not to think. What’s good, what’s bad, what’s right and what’s wrong.

They are a set of truisms that fit our society and that we are expected to believe in and adhere to. And those truisms are pretty much one-size-fits-all. But we know that one size does not fit all, so as a shaman one of the key words as shaman lives by is ‘integrity.’

When a shaman is faced with some piece of consensual reality, the shaman looks at it and they ask themselves ‘is this right for me?’

If the answer to that is no, the next question they ask is ‘will it in some way effect my integrity to not adhere to this particular truism?’

If the answer comes back no, then the next question is ‘will it harm anybody or our environment if I don’t adhere?’

If the answer is still no, then the shaman will live it their way, rather than follow in the tenants of the consensual reality.

If you look in our world today there is a huge amount of fear. The net result is that people are running scared. They need four locks on their doors and an unsociable dog, all the things that play into fear.

Fear is a great ally but a very poor master. The bad part of that is if you live your life in fear long enough, the physiological effect on the body becomes very damaging. It’s like an engine in a car. If you take your car’s engine and run it way faster than it needs, it wears the engine out much more quickly.
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Shanon: it’s exactly the opposite of what a lot of people believe: that disease first starts in the body and then affects your life. A shaman knows that an illness was developing long before it started to affect your physical body.

Let’s say you had a real, major upset and it really threw you for a loop. We know that at that moment of trauma, that if it were profound enough, it did some damage.

And when something traumatic happens in our lives it affects our envelope of energy. If you don’t deal with it and keep pushing it away, it’ll start to attract other similar happenings. It’ll start getting bigger and bigger and what started out as a small thing becomes large enough that it attacks the physical body and you end up with an ailment.

Pass Herald: Tell me about your school.

Shanon: We started Kimmapii in 2004. We divided the school into three streams of shamanism. Globally, shamanism is practiced on every continent. There are Tibetan shamans, Celtic shamans, Australian shamans and they all have a slightly unique approach. But the core essential underpinnings are all identical because it all came some 40,000 years ago out of the Himalayas.

Marv: I was a practicing pharmacist for a while but I became disenchanted because it really wasn’t curing people, it was masking a symptom more often than not.

When Shanon and I got together and got married back in 1988, we were married by Dr. Joe Crowshoe of the Piikaani Nation in a traditional ceremony. Part of the bargain is they asked us to go and help bridge the gap between people. We spent a lot of years learning their ceremonial ways and we started building a body of knowledge and it seemed to flow naturally into starting to teach it.

People seem to know that they can come and talk to us and get some help. We’re both pretty busy at it.

This interview was
edited and condensed
August 10th ~ Vol. 85 No. 31
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