In the Siberian Altai

Dear Cambra, for many years you have been researching ancient, shamanic women’s knowledge and the ways of wise women in modern as well as in traditional and indigenous cultures. As an artist, you weave images and stories out of that research, which can be seen in your artwork, books, blog and films. But it also creates a lot of outcome that is suitable for everyday use. You seem to be an unlimited  source of inspiration. What power burns in you or drives you to do so?

First, thank you for inviting me to the interview.

Well, it has always been my greatest wish to design and work creatively, to research and experiment. That gives me so much joy and I’ve noticed that the fact that I can give my expression of all the thousand impressions in this world, in this life, is very healing. Like standing at a huge buffet and tasting all the different things and absorbing them. And if there was no “clearance ” that would be very problematic, in no way beneficial to the body and healing. I think the creativity of expression, of design, is something like expressing all the impressions, all the many impressions that come, and thus widening the space again – for new impressions of life and new stories.

In your book “At the fire of the Shaman Woman” you tell about your travel experiences, which you´ve had during two summers in Siberia, but also about your personal healing path. The people of Altai are very closely connected to Mother Earth. What significance does Pachamama have for the locals there? And how have you experienced this connection being practiced in daily life?

In the Altai, of course, the term “Pachamama” does not exist. There are other names, like everywhere else in the world, where the goddess is with her thousand names and the divine in diverse expressions.

So, in the Altai there is a deep spiritual connection to the earth, the land, the rivers, and the trees, to the stars and the spirits. For example, “Katun” is a very important river goddess and in Belucha, this mighty mountain goddess, beats the heart of the goddess “Umais”.

Furthermore, trees and springs are worshipped, or the spirits of certain places are honoured, e.g. on mountain passes. Because of this  people hang white ribbons of fabric onto the trees. Then, over time, at the springs and at the top of the passes, at certain trees, countless ribbons are blowing in the wind.

Aditionally , as everywhere in Central Asia, fire is being worshipped: it is the central point in nomadic life, in the yurts.  Fire is the great goddess. People are bowing to the fire. For example, there is also a fire when the yurt camps are dismantled, and food, fat or something valuable is placed into the fireplace in honor of the goddess.

And in the Siberian Atlai, the princess of “Ukok” is also worshiped as the Atai protector. “Ukok” is a high plateau where there was a grave – a kurgan – where her grave, her kurgan, was. She was a Scythian princess and priestess. And she is truly revered as an Atai protector, a spiritual entity that protects the Altai.

Then there is the World Mother with many myths and beautiful cedar wood figures of her. They look a bit like a tree with her face, lots of wooden human children at the bottom, and she has a star carved at the top where the crown chakra is. So, the Goddess exists in many ways.

I’ve experienced a very lively connection from the people to the spirits and to the earth, although in Siberia I was of course travelling  with shamans and in very spiritual circles. That could have changed my perception slightly , because therefore I´ve definitely experienced a quite spiritual Russia/Siberia.

What role does the heart power play in this? And how would you define or describe it?

The heart power! Well, I think it’s very important for all people who are deeply and spiritually concerned with being “human”. To those who connect with our Earth as our home planet, and who see themselves as part of the great world and universe community,  the heart power is like a compass: like the voice that guides us and lets us find good paths.

How can we connect even better with the heart power of Pachamama and our heart power? How beneficial is it to our daily activities?

There are certainly a thousand possibilities. And not all paths are suitable for all people. For example, meditating and the umpteen variations and techniques that exist. It’s certainly about finding out more and more precisely what our very own ways and suitable techniques are. So, the question is: “What strengthens me? What makes me freer, broader, and more compassionate? Where are my sources of strength? Which teachers have something to tell me or to inspire me? Who are my “heart people”?  It could be that someone comes far very fast, consciousness-wise, and shines. That impresses me very much. Then I see what technique this person has and I use it. And it does not work for me. So, that’s something to find out.

Being spiritually connected certainly makes me feel more at home and safer, more joyful and more alive on the road.

Well, there is so much spiritual homelessness in our time and especially in western societies. There we can see very well how lost  they are and what it leads to.

So, coming back to your question, what can we get when we connect to the power of the heart, to the divine power and to earthly wisdom? It’s just a much deeper sense of being at home in life and being on the move.

Do you have any advice for us?

Yes, the advice! It’s difficult: following your very own path, your own truth. I think that’s the most important thing. And listen to our “womb wisdom” because it is a wonderful inner compass.

Make a lot of space for humour. I believe humour is very, very close to enlightenment.

I often find it healing to be more analogue than digital: to go out, to the countryside, to listen to the countryside, to get out into the nature. The nature really is THE great teacher and healer. So, go out into the forests, to the rivers, to the springs, to the plants and the animals to experience our great environment in order to experience yourself as part of it.

What is your heart’s greatest desire?

My heart’s greatest desire? Hmm, I don’t actually know that now.  Maybe it is that one day  I’ll walk over gently to the other side, with a smile and say to myself: “Hm, that has benn a beautiful, a rich life that I’ve truly  and deeply lived and loved.”

Thank you so much, dear Cambra, for your time and for sharing your knowledge with us. All the best.

I thank you.

Photo copyrights: Jan Rickers

Sounds of the heart

Sumak kawsay