Alyson Charles is an internationally renowned shaman, bestselling author, and host of the Ceremony Circle podcast. Alyson went from being a national champion athlete and top-rated radio host to aligning with her calling as a shaman. After a traumatic moment provided her awakening, she devoted her life to living by the calls and directors of Source, spiritual immersions and expansions, and preserving ancient wisdom practices and traditions. At the same time, Alyson cares deeply about situating her earth mission in these modern times. Most recently, Alyson published Animal Power, which is a bestselling book about the role of animal spirits and energies. In this episode of the Third Wave podcast, Alyson talks with Paul F. Austin about her divine awakening, walking the spiritual path of a shaman, and her relationships with plant medicines and animal spirits.
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0:00:00.0 Alyson Charles: So there's different ways in which shamans and shamanic practitioners get medicine names on their path, and for me, true to the rock star nature, the name downloaded in one day. I was sitting in sacred space with a few sisters, I was going through initiation, a big fire, big spiritual fire, and I was slobber crying and in the throws of reconciling how my life was changing and the visions I was being sent in terms of how I was being asked to walk the shamanic path and express the shamanic medicine out into the world and do it so publicly and I was hesitant. And this name, Rock Star Shaman came in, and I thought, "Oh my God, you've got to be kidding me."
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0:04:41.3 PA: Hey listeners. It's so great to have you back. Welcome to Third Wave's podcast. Today we have Alyson Charles, an internationally renowned shaman, best-selling author and host of the Ceremony Circle Podcast. Alyson went from being a national champion athlete and top-rated radio host to aligning with her calling as a shaman after a traumatic moment provided her awakening. She devotes her life to living by the calls and directors of source, spiritual immersions and expansions, preserving ancient wisdom practices and traditions, while simultaneously honoring the precise way her earth mission is to work in these modern time. Most recently, Alyson published Animal Power, which was the best-selling book about the role of animal spirit, animal energies, which I'm frankly thrilled to talk about in the podcast today. So Alyson, thank you so much for joining us for the podcast.
0:05:32.7 AC: Oh, thanks for having me, Paul. Yeah, it's good to see you and reconnect. The last we were together was at some random apple orchard in upstate New York. So our lives are very different at this point and I'm happy to be here.
0:05:48.7 PA: Yes, I can't wait to dive in with you. And one thing that struck me about just meeting you and being with you in person was your presence, and we're recording this virtually for better or worse, so we don't get to fully be in each other's energy, but just what I sense in you is incredible, sort of an incredible expansive awareness and a sense of being seen, I think in more spiritual lingo, I would say that your third eye at all times feels very open and aware. And what I wanna explore today in the podcast is just that path of transformation for you. And I'd love if you could, just for our listeners just to tell us about who Alyson was before you started the shamanic path, before you started your own spiritual journey of awakening and transformation.
0:06:40.2 AC: Yes. Firstly, thank you for seeing me and feeling me and taking that moment to honor and acknowledge my embodiment and the work I've done. I would definitely say you're accurate in terms of my third eye being very wide open, but that was definitely not always the case. In fact, pre-divine intervention, spiritual awakening day, it was the total opposite. I had a very tightly drawn veil very snugly and secured down over my third eye and was for sure in a lot of mis-alignments and just not letting myself be who I really am and suppressing my soul's calling, suppressing my spiritual abilities, suppressing my connection to the divine, and that created a lot of pain, a lot of suffering, and one of the main chapters of that suffering was in a previous relationship that I was in. As most of us know, the medicine that comes from heartbreak, it can be so painful but so paramount to changing the course of our lives and my story is no different.
0:08:16.2 AC: So yeah, my life used to look completely different in a lot of aspects to what it is now. I used to be an incredibly intense athlete, an elite athlete that won a couple of national championships, I was a distance runner, my dad was my coach for most of my running career, he put me in my first running road race when I was two and a half years old, so that in itself was a huge part of my earthly learning and many things that I needed to traverse and transcend came out of that relationship dynamic. And also just getting started as an intense athlete at such a young age was a big part of my path and incarnation this lifetime and yeah, I really made a lot of choices along the way to preserve and prioritize relationships with people above my relationship with source and above my relationship with my own soul.
0:09:28.5 AC: And in hindsight, I think there's so many infinite threads involved in just these little nuggets that I've shared with you, there's so much we can get into and dissect, but as a theme... Yeah, thematically, in hindsight, I think in a lot of ways, does boil down to that what I just shared in terms of what was causing my pain and why I was so disconnected and misaligned then, and now I'm the total opposite, I live in total devotion to the calls and instructions of great spirit, great mother earth and my soul, and I put nothing above my connection to God/Goddess. And yeah, now I feel in more freedom and liberation and unification with the divine truth in myself now.
0:10:24.9 AC: I know I went a lot of places and I know I'm just organically flowing, but I'm happy to unpack any of that previous life if you think it would be of service for our listeners in terms of like, used to be a hip hop radio show morning host, used to be national champion athlete, used to be in a 16 and a half year very suffrage, at times abusive filled relationship to having divine intervention to now being of service through Shamanism and consciousness. I'm happy to go into any of those areas more. [chuckle]
0:10:57.5 PA: Yeah, let's play with that. 'Cause a lot of times on this podcast, the sort of "divine intervention" that a lot of our guests have, or even a lot of the listeners have, is through psychedelic medicine, and I sense that was not necessarily the case in your part. So I'd love if you could just bring us into, maybe it was a moment or maybe it was a day or maybe it probably felt timeless when it was happening, but just that shift for you, what was that story essentially, and how intense was it to move through that during that time?
0:11:37.8 AC: Yeah. No, that sounds like a great place to go deeper, yes. And I love hearing that a lot of your listeners have their divine interventions and awakenings via the sacred spirits of plants and various medicines. Mine was, yeah, very different than that, and of course, by divine design, which I'll get into in a few moments. But my life-changing day is one of the spiritual stories of going about your life living a certain way, then boom, this intervention happens and everything changes in snap of a finger and one moment in time. So, like I'd mentioned, was in that 16 and a half year long term previous romantic relationship, and there was so much medicine in that, so much karma woven in that, and part of all of that was a lot of co-dependency and tons of deeply shrouded illusion and denial on both of our parts, but especially on my part. And then on his side, there were some addiction issues going on that I didn't really have, but I was a part of that whole pool.
0:12:53.0 AC: So we struggled, my ex and I, we really were both in a lot of pain in different ways and we both struggled to pull ourselves out of this cycle that just spun and spun like a cycle of insanity, doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result for almost two decades. We met when we were very young, we were both college athletes at the University of Alabama... And I also like to share, of course, I wouldn't change anything about my life. It's all medicine, it's all divine, it all led me to where I'm at, but in honoring all of it, there was a shit ton of pain in this relationship and it was very tumultuous and very scary at times, but the day that changed my life, we had ended the relationship... I don't even know. This was ending time number, whatever, seven we'll say, and I had left Connecticut and moved by myself with my cat to Brooklyn and was trying to start a new life.
0:14:03.2 AC: We had called the engagement off, things were done and yet in the course of the maybe five or six months that I was on my own in Brooklyn, we did start to talk a little bit again and he... The things that I was hearing him say this time did feel different and I thought, "Huh. Could this be the time that things actually changed?" And so I was a bit hesitant, but through those five or six months, we did get to a place of deciding that on this day we would go out publicly as a couple yet again, but my loving guides in the unseen realms thought otherwise, and as I was gonna go tell him, "A few more minutes and we can leave," he was asleep on the couch, so I didn't wanna wake him up and as I walked back through my Brooklyn brownstone bedroom, my clear audient gift in my right ear got turned on.
0:15:06.8 AC: So this is where things start to change. I heard spirit speak to me and tell me to stop and turn around, and so I did stop and I did turn around and my eyes just like a laser being landed on my ex's phone that was sitting on my book shelf, and right away, I didn't exactly know what was happening, but there was a shift, there was an energetic change, there was a thing brewing in this space and in this moment of time that was palpable and I do remember feeling something happening, and as I walked over to the phone on the bookcase, the voice spoke to me in my right ear again and told me to brace myself that what I was about to see would rock my world and I could feel deeper shifts beginning to happen.
0:16:05.3 AC: I plugged four numbers into the phone, which I do like to share, I did not know prior to this moment, I was someone who steadfastly did not snoop because I know on an unconscious level I feared what I would find and I was living in denial and illusion so the last thing I wanted to do was to actually go into that phone and see the truth, but today was the day that I needed to do that and I needed to face these things. So the phone opened and, yeah, this was my first modern day Shamanic initiation and that phone really represented that shamanic initiator cave for me, of the cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek because all of my greatest fears around betrayal were held in that phone.
0:16:56.9 AC: So condensing the story down a bit, there was graphic, horrendous, evidentiary proof of really intense betrayals in various forms, in various ways, and as I was traversing around in the phone and seeing all of this graphic proof, everything was happening simultaneously. My ego eggshell was getting obliterated, the veil that I had so tightly pulled down was snatched up and completely lifted, and the energetics were so strong and actually woke my ex up. I never spoke anything or said anything, but he felt something to the point where it woke him up and he came in the bedroom. And long story short, I asked him to leave and to never return. And I made a doctor's appointment because the things I saw on the phone made me fear for my health and well-being and that was really...
0:18:06.9 AC: Yeah, I feel like an emotional bubble still. All these many, many years later, still rises up sometimes when I re-tell this story and just tracking back through the energetics of this day, because yeah, up until that moment, I was living in this facade, this fake world, I wasn't letting myself really see the truth of me, of him and the relationship, of Earth, of anything, and I was really being confronted and having to go into some of the darker scarier aspects that I was previously too scared to look at. And so thankfully the doctor's appointment went fine, and by the grace of God/goddess, I was somehow okay. And then the next step was getting a flight to Indiana where I grew up, and I went to stay at my grandma's house, who I always love to honor, my Grammy, dear Grammy Bernice, she recently transitioned to the other realms at 98 years old.
0:19:05.4 AC: And I was so close with her my whole life. And it was in her home, in this safe, unconditionally loving, non-judgmental space that she was such a master, such a genius at creating, that I was able in the weeks that I stayed there to have additional awakening moment after awakening moment and to allow my spiritual gifts and abilities to get more online and more activated, my telepathy came on board, and so I was just moving through so much, it was equal parts, completely miraculous and enlightening along with terrifying and discombobulating and scary.
0:19:46.0 AC: It was equal parts dark and light, and all happening simultaneously. The last thing I'll say before I take a breath and we can keep navigating where you feel called to is, I intuitively at this point, seeing the truth, so many truths of my self and all else, I knew I needed support, I knew I was not the person I had convinced myself to be and finally, I was ready to get out of my own way and choose something other than suffering, so I communicated that surrender statement to great spirit, great Mother Earth in my own heart and soul, and I said, okay, clearly do not have a clue what I'm doing here. I'm ready to be shown the way. And then the key... Because some people do that step, but then the next part that they don't do is actually heeding and living in devotion to the messages and energetics and guidance that comes in, but where I give myself a lot of honor and credit is I live in devotion. I'm not trying to paint myself as a perfect.
0:20:52.5 AC: I'm very much human. I'm equal parts human and shaman, but I live in devotion, I have for many many years at this point, to where source, where divine is instructing me to go. And I just started out on a healing quest to heal myself, to face myself, to whole myself. I never set out on a quest to become a shaman, to become a spiritual teacher. That truth that always lived inside of me, the activation of that truth was just a by-product of my devotion to facing myself.
0:21:27.8 AC: So yes, I had all of this happen without, at that time, without the aid or support of any plant spirits. It was straight up... It really, I guess I'll finish on this note, it really boils down to the line from which I walk my shamanic path and the way in which my shamanic medicine is meant to be of service this lifetime, it's directly into rock, Great Mother Earth and directly into Star, source consciousness great spirit. It's where the medicine name Rock Star Shaman comes from. I live in that vertical line of connection and devotion to the planet we inhabit, that vertical line that runs straight through me, that connects into my shamanic and human heart and then directly into Star, great spirit source consciousness.
0:22:16.0 AC: And yeah. That's what woke me up, that is where I live in devotion to and that is how my shamanic path primarily works. Since I have heard the call, I was only doing shamanism from that place for many many years, didn't know if spirits of plants would ever call to me, and I don't know how many years down the road, they did eventually start to call, so I have had the good fortune and blessed honor to commune and talk with and learn with different plant spirits since, but I know it was by divine design, that it was not that way for a very long time, so I can teach about that and help remind people that it is possible for you to connect with your calling, and it is possible to have your spiritual gifts get activated without necessarily having to sit in a plant medicine ceremony.
0:23:15.7 PA: Right. And what we're just learning through plant medicine and what we've learned is that it's an activator, it's a catalyst, it's an opener for so many of us who have been conditioned into putting that veil on and being very rigid in it. Right? And by no means is it the only path or the only way, we can hit rock bottom in many other ways, as rites of initiation. There were so many other ways that indigenous folks have, other modalities, fasting and drumming, and in your case, heartbreak and relationship, that has a very sort of modern context and twist to it. And so I'm kinda just on, continuing that thread, Alyson, I'm just curious, as a white woman who calls herself a shaman, I'm sure you've received hesitation or people who might say X, Y and Z about how you sort of hold yourself, and not what do you say to those people necessarily, but what does it mean in a modern day context to be a shaman, to be a spiritual teacher, to be awakened? And what responsibility does that hold as well?
0:24:30.1 AC: Oh God, so much responsibility. It's massive. Yeah. There's so much to unpack in just that one question, so much and it's... Yeah, I feel the potency and the richness of it, just even beginning to try to answer, and I'll do to the best of my ability with human mouth and human words to somehow do justice in answering that, but of course, you and I know a lot of this is ineffable and it's impossible...
0:25:01.0 PA: Most of it is impossible to... Yeah, I get it.
0:25:02.9 AC: Yes, yes. But...
0:25:04.3 PA: It's just energetics, it's non-linear, a lot of it but we'll do our best. Right?
0:25:07.8 AC: Yeah, yeah.
0:25:08.7 PA: That's the fun part of our podcast. Yeah.
0:25:09.9 AC: Exactly, exactly. We'll do our best. So yes, let's see... And I'd never have a cookie cutter answer for this, so I just like to see what comes in and what wants to be shared on this day. Let me just tune in. Yes. After I had been on that healing, surrendered quest of facing myself and healing myself, as the true soul calling of my work as a shaman, as a spiritual teacher, it's my belief in my teaching that when we're up there and putting our hands up, excited to incarnate and go back to Earth school and do all this work, and we're like, "Yeah, Pick me, I'm ready to go on to another round," and we're devising our soul contracts and peering into the karma that we need to still work out with this person and that person, and we're writing this whole thing. And so I'm very clear that I incarnated with the calling to be a shaman this lifetime when I was up there, so before I popped out onto this Earth plane, that calling was already instilled and encoded inside of me.
0:26:25.9 AC: It's just it took that and divine intervention to course correct me, and I'm sure some of the reason that I was fixating on my ex's addiction issues and fixating on all of his problems, which in turn, by that fixation, allowed me to not focus on myself and take responsibility for myself and to get myself onto the path that I was really supposed to walk, I'm sure a lot of some of those dynamics were because I was probably scared to step into my truth and to step into this calling because of that responsibility word that you bring in and yeah, God, even just talking about this, there's massive medicine and energetic swirling within and around me in this time and space. So when the truth in me had proper space and timing to come more on board and online and activate inside of me, and that clear knowingness of who I really am, that calling began to illuminate and communicate and express to me, I instantly felt the magnitude, the power, the responsibility. It was never lost on me.
0:27:52.3 AC: In fact, when the name, the medicine name... So there's different ways in which shamans and shamanic practitioners get medicine names on their path. And for me, true to the rock star nature, the name downloaded in one day. I was sitting in a sacred space with a few sisters, I was going through a initiation, a big fire, a big spiritual fire, and I was slobber crying, and in the throes of reconciling how my life was changing and the visions I was being sent in terms of how I was being asked to walk the shamanic path and express the shamanic medicine out into the world and do it so publicly, and I was hesitant. And this name, Rock Star Shaman, came in, and I thought, "Oh my God, you've got to be kidding me." On top of all of these changes I'm facing and these visions I'm being shown, now I'm being instructed to use this medicine name and not just use it with friends and family but to use it in a really public way.
0:29:07.0 AC: And I went home that night and there was some resistance, and I did phone a trusted friend and I said, "You know, I'm gonna go on a shamanic journey. Jesus's lifetime is my main love and light guide." And I knew... I saw your face light up when... Do you love Jesus or why did you react that way?
0:29:30.1 PA: Well, it just sounds very Midwest of you to have that...
0:29:32.5 AC: Jesus.
0:29:34.3 PA: To have that perspective. I grew up... We were talking about this before we recorded, but in Michigan, you're from Indiana, and I was on Luke's podcast a couple of months ago and he asked the question, who are three people? And I also responded "Jesus" and I was a little surprised myself that I had that, so I just wanted to share that with you. That's it.
0:29:54.1 AC: Love that. Yeah, so I know of Jesus as ascended master Jesus, and he's my main guide and teacher this lifetime. And so I knew, I needed and wanted, I was choosing to go on a guided shamanic journey specifically to connect with Him and to flush this out, this medicine name instruction out. Before I did that, I called this trusted friend and I said, "What is your take on this from an outside perspective? The last thing I want is to be moving forward, to be building this foundation and path from an egoic place. What is your take? I wanna do an integrity check here with myself and you." And she felt into it and said, "You know what, Alyson, if anybody else was making this phone call to me, I think I would probably say like, 'Oh, you might wanna second guess this or y might wanna question this or not do this,'" But she, when I feel in for you, it's aligned. It feels right.
0:30:49.5 AC: So I got off the phone with her, still feeling the power of it and the hesitation, and I went on that shamanic journey, and I called Jesus forward and I said to him, is this my divine truth? Is this of ego or is this of divinity? Is this your instruction? And the only thing I remember from that journey is him saying to me, "This is why you are here." And so I knew I needed to step into this and I knew I needed to step forward with this and I did it in layers. And to be completely transparent and frank with you and your audience, and anyone else who has a medicine name, I'm even burping as I'm talking about this, knows what I say when I say this or knows what I mean when I say this. A medicine name is not just medicine for others, it's medicine for yourself too, and it's a medicine that takes time sometimes to fully integrate and embody. A medicine name is a stretch, it's a growth that you have to live into, and so utilizing and answering the instruction to use the name Rock Star Shaman and to claim as a woman, to hold that space as a female, as a woman shaman is something that took me on a ride for more than a decade.
0:32:14.7 AC: There was a time, I don't know, maybe five or six years into it, where I wanted to do away with it, where I switched everything. I changed the Instagram handle from Rock Star Shaman to I Am Alyson Charles and I wanted to see if I could put it to bed, put it to rest and just be Alyson or Alyson Charles and yet, the medicine, it's just, it won't... So far, it will not let me completely put it to rest, and I still, to this day, more than a decade into using it, I still do checks around it. There's probably in the last four months where I did a journey and connected in and asked again, is this still for the greatest, highest greatest good? Is this still the name that I need to be using?
0:32:57.9 AC: So I know that that's a lot going into that one specific thing, but I do want people to be aware that this was not some flippant decision. This was something right out of the gate, that I have worked in the deepest capacities of my being, that I have done countless integrity checks around in countless ways and yet I continue to be instructed to utilize it, and it has not been an easy path at all. It has been confronting within my own being and from outside of myself as well, but the blessing and miracle of so steadfastly choosing to relentlessly live by the instructions of the divine is no matter what I need to transcend or face within myself or no matter what lesson or teaching that's coming at me from the outside, no matter how scary, 'cause a lot of them have been scary, no matter what, when I sit in that alchemical pool of that teaching, or of that negative comment, every single time that I sit in that and I do the work that's in there, all it does is anchor me even more deeply and further into my divine truth, into my divine power and into my connection with the divine.
0:34:35.0 AC: So it has brought with it a lot of trying scary times, but I have put in the work and I trust myself. And the other thing that I'll say, specifically around the name, it's like, I'm aware that it can be really triggering. It's a medicine name and I'm a medicine woman, and medicine doesn't taste good all the time to everyone. And so I've had people come to me and say, "When I first heard about you, I was really triggered." But those who are willing to face themselves and do their own work, anytime we're triggered, we know that we need to go within. And I've had a lot of people say to me, "Initially, I was triggered, but I knew that it was my work and so I sat with that in meditation and I asked myself, why are you... Why is this woman making you angry?" And they would share with me their own discoveries, and I think that for the most part, people can feel my purity, they can feel my pure heart and they can feel the place and space from which I live and operate from. And to those who can't or choose to not want to, I'd send them love too. It's all good and it's all perfect and I'm just doing what I'm told to do.
0:36:05.2 PA: Divine connection, the divine listening. And that is not... Some people might hear that and they go, well... It's not that it all sounds easy, but there's things that come through, we think divinity is always clean and nice and beautiful and... Yeah, obviously, a lot of the messages aren't things that are easy. Like you're saying, they are things that are confrontational, they are things that... One thing that I picked up on in your response is there are things that required devotion. And so much of a relationship with the divine is devotion to the unknown, which is where faith comes in and the necessity of faith. And what I'm hearing in your story is you continue to come back to check in and check in and check in, and the message continues to be clear, which is, holding... 'Cause even when I hear that name, we'll just stick to the name a sec, Rock Star Shaman, even when I hear that name, energetically, that's such a huge thing. It's massive, it's cosmic, it's almost infinite.
0:37:17.4 PA: And the framing that you place on it, I find to be so insightful because that combination, the rock that grounds and that goes deep into the earth and the star that we're sort of shooting out into, that embody so well the word Rock Star. And yet, when we think about rock stars, we think of... Or at least, I think of the Rolling Stones, and I think of the Beatles and I think of a lot of these people who are maybe... They spend a lot of their time in the stratosphere. They're celebrities, they're high on drugs all the time. They're in that space and they're are a lot more Star than Rock, so to say, if you get my sense. And the question that I have off the back of this is, as both a teacher and a student, which we all are as we continue this path, what are the things that, like the rituals, the practices that help you to stay grounded, that help you to continue to root back into that rock part of who you are?
0:38:26.0 AC: Yes, yes, I'm really enjoying this conversation by the way. And also, of that balanced dynamic, that dance, it's also representational of the word shaman. We walk in these two worlds, we are of this Earth and we know we are connected here, but we're able to also connect justice as strongly and clearly into the unseen realms and the unseen worlds too. So yeah, some of the things that have kept me grounded, humility, being honest, I'm trying my best to do here and sharing very vulnerably and truly about what my trajectory has been like, just keeping it real, not trying to paint things as something other than what they are, and also, like you said, the forever student.
0:39:24.5 AC: And a lot of respect for sure, the wisest I've ever been, but at the same time, it's easier than it's ever been in the same exact moment for me to say I know nothing. And so really just enjoying the allness, the totality, 'cause that's also what shamanism is all about, the allness of all of that is, connection and unification with oneness of all of that is, and what is within that is, yeah, we're on the infinite evolutionary path, so I'm constantly learning and asking myself questions. And as Luke would... He has said a number of times. He's like, my God, you do exhaustive integrity checks and he's right, and sometimes I probably do go a bit...
0:40:17.1 PA: What are those? Can you walk us through what that might look like or feel like for you.
0:40:22.5 AC: It's just like if there's something, I don't know how tangible I can get, but if there's something like a crunchy dynamic that's happened or unexpectedly, a container of a relationship has imploded and you didn't see it coming, I will just... I will be in that space like... Because I'm also a seer, and so when I start then to do the inquiry and to go into the teachings and the medicine of sad experience or relationship implosion, when I go in there, I am in there, I am accessing what got us to this place and what is mine and what is theirs, and just doing the work, sending the prayers, doing whatever I am guided to do to unpack, to unravel. Because I'm so sensitive, what's paramount for me is just clear freaking energy, clear energy, and I try to keep things clean and clear at all times to the best of my ability, so any time there's something like gunky or crunchy or painful or hard, I just... I will be in the pool, that alchemical medicine pool, for as long as I think I need to be and do as much work as I need to, but because I always wanna make sure I'm in integrity and because I want to do whatever work necessary to clean things up, sometimes I can just go longer, deeper and further than perhaps what is necessary and certainly longer and deeper than I think 99.9% of the population, and yet I do think Luke is right.
0:42:17.6 AC: It can be a little overboard at times and a little exhaustive at times, but I would rather err on that end than not putting enough work in and not keeping things clean. Another thing that keeps me really grounded is just my connection to Great Mother Earth. I mean, certainly in the last couple of years, tuning into her and giving offerings to her and just... When Luke and I purchased a home here in Texas, connecting to the love and like guardians of that land and the spirits of the home that we got and song, sacred song drumming, and just letting songs channel in, being in the medicine of just me and my drum, having an altar space, that devoted space within my home to anchor into every single morning to ask my own being questions to send prayers up. Those are some of the examples. But I also have a really good community and company, the people that are in closest space with me, they also are people that have put in so much freaking work that they do not dilute themselves, they keep it really real.
0:43:38.1 AC: And I have a really amazing group of friends that I know I can go to if there ever feels to be any sort of fogginess or confusion, that where things do not feel clear and grounded, which I for the most part, can unpack things myself, the vast vast vast majority of times, but in the last six months, there were so many initiations happening at once, it was such a wild energetic container I was in. I did phone a friend a couple of times, and yeah, having the right community around me also helps me be really grounded too.
0:44:17.6 PA: Now, I'm curious, just because usually in this podcast we talk a lot about the plants, the psychedelics, whether it's mushrooms or the bufo peyote, and I'm curious as a transition question or an opening question, what have the plant spirits meant to you... I know we already touched on the fact that your awakening, did it start with those, but you did mention that since that point in time, you've had a relationship with them, and I'm just curious, from a shamanic perspective, from a healing perspective, from a... Even from a sort of student perspective, learning from these plants and these spirits, what have psychedelics and plant medicines meant to your path?
0:44:57.8 AC: Oh gosh. Yeah, it makes me laugh. Which is fun. I like that, I'm all about laughter medicine nowadays. Wow. Goodness gracious. So... Tuning in, tuning in. Yeah, I've had such a major journey with so many spirit friends of plants, and it's always funny to me because the invitations that they will send always comes in like the day of. It's almost... I think it's an honest statement to say every single plant medicine ceremony that I've ever sat in, I'll get the email or the text or the phone call saying that that ceremony is happening less than 24 hours before it starts and that's actually one of my cues now. A couple of weeks ago, I got a text saying, hey, I know it's last minute, but tomorrow we're doing a really small ceremonial gathering, and because it was literally like 10 hours from the text, I was like, oh gosh, I know I'm supposed to be there, it's a Wednesday, I didn't see this coming. I've gotta move this stuff around, but like this is how they work, and they think it's funny because I'm a Capricorn, I love to be organized and I love to prepare mentally, and every time the plant spirits come in, they're like, You're gonna sit in peyote and two hours for the first time and you're gonna be at the altar with the two facilitators and da, da, da, da.
0:46:28.6 AC: So yeah, I've had the good fortune, good... Highest divine blessing to hear the calls, grandmother medicine. Well, I had worked with Sananga, I had worked with Hapei, I had worked with the spirit of cacao, trying to think if there are any others in there. I had experienced pre-awakening, meeting mushrooms, but that was a whole different vibe and thing. But the first major call, if I can classify it as that way, was grandmother medicine, spirit of ayahuasca, and that was a cool moment, for a lot of different reasons, but because I had been on the shamanic path and out as a shaman for a long time and teaching that you can get in alignment and activate your gifts without sitting in plant medicine ceremonies, I was at a Hapei gathering that I did not know was transitioning over to grandmother medicine ceremony, nobody told me. And so when the Hapei circle was done...
0:47:35.6 PA: So you didn't have time to do a dieta and...
0:47:39.2 AC: No, all of that out the window.
0:47:40.2 PA: Prepare and read a few guides online.
0:47:42.6 AC: Nothing.
0:47:44.4 PA: You just had to go from there.
0:47:44.8 AC: I already had my spot in the circle, and the facilitator was like, "Okay, as we get ready to transition into communing with grandmother medicine, if you wanna get a glass of water or go to the restroom... " And as she's talking, I was having the surreal moment of like, am I really hearing what this woman is saying, and I'm looking at my two friends who I had gone with who knew but did not tell me, and I'm like, you... But it was really cool and needed because I got to sit with myself and learn again on another deeper level to trust myself and to trust how spirit communes with me, because it was confronting. And it was in that moment that I realized I had gotten a bit attached to liking the identity that I was a shaman who had never done plant medicine and that was a cool... That was a powerful pivotal moment for me, and I actually called the shaman over and I said, this is what's coming up for me, and I know at the end of the day it's my decision and I need to arrive to that place myself, but I wanna talk it out with you, through you too.
0:48:49.3 AC: And yeah, through the conversation with her and then her leaving and me sitting with myself and also additionally hearing grandmother medicine speaking to me, it was so clear that I needed to transcend, that I needed to recognize that that attachment had even gotten in place because I did not know that until that moment and... Yeah, so I sat with her that night, it was so beautiful. The medicine that I've worked the most with is peyote and that played a huge, huge instrumental role, and Luke and I actually to get, getting together in sacred union. For those who don't know me, Luke Storey is my husband and we were friends for many years. It's a whole funny story. When we met we... I had been celibate for almost five years, he was celibate for almost two years, we were still doing a lot of inward work ourselves, we had not arrived to our own places of sovereignty yet, so it just wasn't time for us to see us in that way, but it's a hilarious trajectory that he and I got put on. And how peyote started to weave in was about four years into our friendship, I had bicoastal mainly in New York but going to LA a lot.
0:50:08.0 AC: On one of my trips to LA, we would typically meet up for tea when one of us would go to the other coast and just catch up. This was that case, I said, hey, I'll be in town in LA. And he said, "What are you in town for?" 'Cause I used to film a show there and do different things, I said, you know, I'm not here to film, I'm not here to work, I'm not taking any meetings, I'm activating moving here and living here. And what I did not know was that one, a relationship he had been in that I thought was it for him had ended, and two, he did not know that I was going to move to LA and three, I did not know that one of the main reasons he had never expressed his interest in me was because he had a really horrible, long relationship before, and one of his non-negotiables was dating someone who didn't live in the same city.
0:50:57.5 AC: And so all of a sudden all of the previous constructs of our relationship started to disintegrate and crumble and when I met up with him for tea that day, he told me about the break-up, which I was shocked to hear about, 'cause I actually supported him, given him some advice when he asked for it, I was very happy for him that he had found someone and so he told me about that, and then he told me that he wanted to take me on a proper date and asked if I had known that he had always been interested in me. So then he expresses he wants to take me on a date, a proper date, which I say yes but I'm really nervous because I didn't want our friendship to get weird and just all of the things, I also did not see this coming and...
0:51:48.8 AC: Yeah, so our first official date was on a New Year's Eve, and my birthday is on New Year's Day, so this was a big decision for me for a lot of reasons and I said yes. So I flew back to LA to have a Kundalini, it was a legit full on Kundalini, gathering turbines, all white, the whole shebang, New Year's Eve party, Kundalini style. And during one of the breaks between the chance and the activations, we were sitting, talking and he said, you know, your medicine, I'm gonna sit with your medicine soon, and what he meant by that was he knew that peyote is a medicine that's just probably the most near and dear to my heart in some respects, so that's why he referred to it as my medicine.
0:52:35.3 AC: And my first thought was, well, who's facilitating? 'Cause I'm always, I don't wanna say concerned, but I'm always kind of concerned with like, who are the facilitators of these gatherings? And he said, you know, it's interesting, I ran into a guy I know named Sanje, and the second he said that, I knew that Luke was going to sit with my teachers of the medicine because Sanje was in the same community. So all of a sudden, without my doing at all, without Luke's doing at all, the spirit of peyote was already starting to do its magic and weave into his experience after already being woven into mine for quite some time. I flew...
0:53:19.8 AC: So we had a great first date that night, we had a first little kiss, flew back to New York, I said, hey, remind me when that ceremony is so I can hold space for you. And he said, "No, are you sure? Why? Do you wanna come?" And I thought, oh my gosh, do I? So sure enough, I buy a ticket, a couple days later, fly back across the country. Now, the ceremonial space out in the desert, in Joshua Tree that was holding this Peyote ceremony, there were no seats left, there was full, it was like... There was no space.
0:53:55.5 AC: But I still chose to fly to the west coast and to just go out to the desert with him. Well, how Spirit works, one spot opened up, there was one person that couldn't make it, so I got my way in, and it was in that weekend of back-to-back nights of sitting in that sacred medicine space with Peyote that brought Luke and I... That was our second date, we had not even come close to being intimate, like we had only just packed a little kiss, we left that weekend having a spiritual wedding ceremony and the TP. So we technically got married before we even knew we were a couple and a long time before we ever slept together, and that was really all due to the spirit of peyote, so that's just one example of the miracles, the infinite possibilities that can come from answering the call of these medicines. And my most current commuting is with the spirit of Kanna and I'm so grateful, she is just, oh my gosh, like wow, just... What she is allowing me to experience and what the spirit of Kanna is bringing into my life and the connection with myself and others is just so beautiful, no words, of course, for it, so distinct as they all are. But that is the medicine that is most present for me, is her.
0:55:29.4 PA: Can you go a little bit deeper into that? I know a fair amount about Kanna, but I'm sure for many of our listeners, they might not have a lot of context. What is Kanna, and how you been working with it just in terms of the relationship there.
0:55:42.8 AC: Yeah, sure. So Kanna is actually a bush from South Africa and she's most known for being a heart-opener, and I'm trying to think... Let me tune in. When was the first time? Stand by, I really wanna access. Wait, okay. I'm going back in time here. I'm trying to remember the first moment with her. We have some friends, hearthstone collective, and they had been communing and working with this medicine and they were in town here in Austin, and Luke and I went to their Airbnb to connect, to catch up, to have dinner and somehow Kanna was being spoken of and I asked Ryan to show me a picture. There was something that was starting to speak to me, there was an instant resonance I remembered feeling, there was an instant call as soon as I heard her name, and then when I saw the picture of her and how she grows and where she comes from, the call got even louder, and then he said, "You know what, I think, I normally don't travel with it or have any, I think I have one ceremonial capsule with me, and if I do, I'm gonna go upstairs and look and if I do, I know it's yours." And sure enough, he came back downstairs, he had that one Kanna ceremonial capsule with him, which he gave to me and... Yeah.
0:57:36.0 AC: So I always just speak to the medicine. I never just pop pills or ingest the medicine casually. I'm always tuning in first, calling in the spirit of that medicine to ask if it wants to commune with me at that time. I say my prayers, I set my intentions, I have my own ritual each time. So yeah, every... Hang on, I'm trying to remember if every time I've worked with her if it's been in the same form. Yeah, it's broken down into a concentrated form that's held in a capsule, and I believe I've also taken Kanna drops that you put under your tongue, but for the deeper ceremonial grade dosing, ceremonial experiences that I've gone on with her, it has all been through the capsule form. A friend of mine here just told me the other week, she has been in development with another woman for a Kanna gum that's going to come out in the next couple of months, which I'm super excited about. So that's on the horizon.
0:58:54.2 PA: Oh wow, that's like way better than nicotine gum.
0:59:00.4 AC: Yeah, exactly, totally. [chuckle]
0:59:00.6 PA: That's for sure. It reminds me a little bit... I've done smaller amounts of Kanna. I did in fact, the chocolates that Phoebe and Ryan made.
0:59:08.1 AC: Yes, shout out to Phoebe and Ryan.
0:59:09.7 PA: They have some... Shout out to Phoebe and Ryan, good people. They mix some of the Kanna into those formulations and it can be a really powerful... Have a synergistic effect with some of these other medicines that I've experienced. And another... This Feel Free reminds me of that a little bit as well, in terms of the heart-opener and sort of the feeling of being able to really connect, and this is a little shot that I actually got from Luke and found out about, which is... It's not Kanna, this is Kava and Kriya and a few other things like that but...
0:59:44.4 AC: Yeah, and a sidenote on that Feel Free, which is, Luke loves it and is a regular ingestor of it. So I'm so open and sensitive and I tried one of those and I think I only took a quarter, there's these tiny little bottles, and I still even only took a quarter of said tiny bottle and it just, I mean wow, it was so strong for me, I had to lay down. I was incapacitated for a few hours, I was like, "Okay, alright, so I'm gonna take a pause with that, that is medicine more for someone else at this time." But yeah, I know a lot of people have incredible experiences on it, it was just strong for me.
1:00:32.6 PA: It's quite... I had another close friend who did the same thing as you, and she was like, "I am so loopy, I can't do anything, I just have to lay down on this." So be warned, it is intense. I drank a whole bottle when I was on a podcast with Luke and...
1:00:50.3 AC: Wow.
1:00:51.9 PA: Things took an interesting turn, I really felt free. You know what I mean? Yeah.
1:00:54.4 AC: [chuckle] Wow, I don't know if he told me about that, I'm intrigued.
1:00:58.2 PA: Yeah, yeah, it was fun, it was so fun. Well, I do... We're nearing the end of our time together, and we could probably keep talking, if I'm honest, this could go for hours and hours. But I do just wanna touch on your new book that's coming up, because you do have a new book that's coming out...
1:01:16.1 AC: Yes.
1:01:16.8 PA: Your Animal Power book. Tell us just a little bit about the new book and specifically about spirit animals, 'cause this is something that spirit animals often come up in sort of spiritual lingo and spiritual talk, and I don't even have a clear sense of what is a spirit animal, how do I look for a spirit animal? What are different ways it shows up? So I'd love just to hear, why were you inspired to create this beautiful book, and what does this mean for folk, spirit animals?
1:01:49.0 AC: Yeah, yeah.
1:01:52.4 PA: And then maybe what's the difference between a spirit animal and a power animal? 'Cause now I'm looking at it, I'm like, there's this...
1:01:56.8 AC: Yeah. And totally yeah 'cause yeah, this is a power animal book and, yeah, so it's that term that's used in there, so let's see where to begin. So yeah, I do like to let people know that it was the power animal realm who came in as my first spiritual guides after that divine intervention. So when I said, "Show me the way, help me out here," I was directed to work with all these other healers and Shamans, and my aunt who's a Shaman was one of those clear directives that I got, and she is based in Santa Fe, so she did a remote soul retrieval journey for me, and in that journey, my core power animal, which is the black Jaguar, came in. And so that was my first connection point with that animal, and after that, very quickly after that, I had three supporter power animals who came in to specifically help me in that chapter of my life, because every single power animal has different medicinal attributes, different wisdom teachings and medicines, they're all unique.
1:03:11.6 AC: And so the three that came in to help me at that time, in that super discombobulated, "Whoa, what's going on" chapter in my life were the bear, the deer and the frog. And the bear came in and really helped me anchor into a safe space during that time, 'cause I felt out of my body, it helped to anchor me, to stabilize me, it would come in during my meditations, and the bear would be sitting with its back up against a huge ancient tree, and the bear would invite me to sit in its lap and to lean my back against its chest and to learn energetically how to let go into the void, how to let go and to surrender and to trust that I would be held by unseen realm support, so huge help there with the bear.
1:04:03.1 AC: And then the deer is the path of the heart, the heart medicine, and it was my constant teacher of not shutting my heart down, do not close off your heart, trust the process, trust in keeping it open, trust that you're safe to keep it open and wow, the deer is actually, when it comes to peyote, the sacred animal totem for that medicine, Kauyumari is the sacred blue deer. And so the deer has been with me as a main guide for more than a decade now. And then the frog came in to clear out toxicity, to do the emotional healing and clearing, and also another paramount medicine at the time was leaps of faith, and frogs only leap forward, they never leap backward, and that was that anchoring medicine I was so in need of support with. Because of that cycle of insanity and that co-dependant dance of 16 and a half years, I needed an ally to come in and be like, "We are not f-ing turning back this time, we are not jumping backward, we're only moving forward, a leap of faith forward."
1:05:08.4 AC: So those are some of the examples of how these animals can work, can provide so many miracles. And so I began to work with them and commune and connect with them on a daily basis in all sorts of different ways. Those were some of the first guided Shamanic journeys that I would take other people on so they could meet their guides, and that's really, especially when I was living in New York, the work I started to get most known for. Oprah magazine, that was when they did a write-up saying, "It's a top meditation to try." Their editor had come to experience my guided power animal shamanic journey.
1:05:44.7 AC: And people... I was doing so many events in New York City and they were lot of this work and people were really gravitating toward it. And essentially over 10-15 years at this point, or actually many lifetimes I should say, that power animal realm and I have just developed such a strong line of trust that goes both ways; they trust me to be a voice for them and I trust them when I'm in front of 15,000 people doing live power animal readings, I trust them that they're gonna show up and not leave me hanging and that they're gonna clearly communicate to me what I need to say to this person live on stage, in front of all these other folks. So I just like to let people know the kind of strong rapport that's been built, because when it came time to writing my book, I couldn't get clear for years on what my first book should be, it was a bit of a frustrating process, then I finally thought I had it, I was gonna write a book. The working title was Soul Surrender and I was like, yes, we were doing it.
1:06:51.8 AC: And I flew to Bali to write that book, and in my first morning meditation there, powering almost as far as my mind's eye could see, hundreds, if not thousands of them, came in that first morning and they were like, "That's not it. We are going to... We're asking you to co-create a modern day Power Animal guide book with us." So it actually wasn't of my volition, it was not even like "my own doing", I was invited by the power animals to do this, and thankfully, my agents and team understand how I live by the calls and they were on board to change the entire book concept over to what you see now, and once I got clear...
1:07:36.0 AC: And of course, once that happened, I was like, Oh my God, duh, it was like the biggest duh moment, of course, it's supposed to be this book, and then for the next four years, I worked with the animals daily writing this book with them daily, having them come to me to express because Animal Power is 100 animals to energize your life and awaken your soul, and every single one of the 100 animals in the book has a full, incredible piece of artwork, a full page of bright colored art of each animal that embodies their medicine teachings. And then on the opposite page, there's energy medicine messages from each animal and also a Power practice that you can do to deepen your connection with them, so it was such a journey. It was honestly the most initiatory project I've ever worked on. I'm so proud of it.
1:08:24.2 AC: I'm even like, blah, blah, blah, struggling to get out the words for the intensity of a project like this, but I am so happy to say that when I got the first actual copy of it, and Luke was like, "How do you feel, on a scale of one to 10, what would you rate it?" I was like, you know what, it feels like a 10 for me because I truly gave it everything I had in me and then some and just the place that it was born from and the fact that I aligned with William Santiago, the artist from Brazil, to have the artwork created, it's just... And my publisher too, it was such an effort from great spirit, Great Mother Earth, just like so many people involved to birth out this beautiful work of art, I'm really proud of it.
1:09:14.3 PA: That's so beautiful. And thank you for sharing that, books are something else to move through and as a form of alchemy in itself, it's such a potent way to transform, and so I'm sure even through writing it and the illustrations, you probably relied on more than a few of those power animals to just help you really move what needed to be moved.
1:09:43.3 AC: I did. Yeah, when I got the first copy I sat at my altar and just connected in with them and I just wept uncontrollably out of the reverence and gratitude and just a time of reflecting on our journey together to arrive to that place, even just writing the author's note alone that lives in this book, like just those couple of pages was one of the biggest initiations of my life, and the book is more than 300 pages long, and also the artist actually passed away right upon completing the art, so his legacy is very deeply embedded here and... Yeah, these are his last works of art, are the animals in this book. And he was only 30 years old and he got the animals done and just transitioned to the other realm. So yeah, you can... That's just to paint some of the major medicine elements that are alive in this book. Yeah.
1:10:54.6 PA: Beautiful. Well, Alyson, I wish we keep going forever and ever. There's so much more to talk about. My hope is that when we get to connect in person again, that we can sit down and even record more because your heart and your presence, as I mentioned at the beginning of the podcast, the way that the divine divinity moves through you, it's just... I instantly recognized that when we met in person many years ago, and I'm getting to witness and be in that vortex again and it feels incredible. So thank you for the work that you've done and the light that you're bringing to the world and the way that you're doing it, it's really been an honor to sit down with you and hear a little of your wisdom.
1:11:37.8 AC: Thank you Paul, I really appreciate you being so honoring of me and acknowledging that I'm grateful to be here. Yeah, let us know the next time you're in Austin so we can hang out. And one of the things that I should let your audience, your soul family who listens, know, if this is speaking to them, I do... If you order the book, you can get it anywhere books are sold, of course. But I do offer a free guided Shamanic journey on my website when you order the book, because a lot of people, when they start to learn, especially if power animals are newer to them, they're just like, what's my core power animal? Or they want to learn how to connect. I guide a drumming Shamanic journey to call your current power animal forward and you get that for free when you order the book from my website, which is alysoncharles.com/animalpower. So yeah, that's that. And just thank you, I am so grateful to see your face again and just so happy you took us on a beautiful voyage and I had such a great time.
1:12:45.5 PA: Thank you, Alyson.
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