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My Time with an Indigenous Shaman

On a recent visit to Australia, I had the good fortune to spend time with Frank Ansell (he goes by the name Frankie) in Alice Springs, Australia, known as the “heart of Australia.” I was told that it is called the “heart” for multiple reasons: it is in the upper middle part of the Australian continent, the earth has a red tone, but most important, this is where the diminishing numbers of Aboriginal people (of multiple tribes) congregate, even though their natural way is nomadic. According to Frankie, Australian Aboriginals can be traced back 800 million years. And Australian Aboriginals seem to be the “heart” of Australia.

My Alice Springs adventure followed my Sydney Coaching certificate program, and many participants were extremely interested in what my experience would be, even asking for details on my return. Few of them had been to Alice Springs, and none (that I know of) had visited an indigenous shaman. In addition, they said that much of what Australian shamans do is supposed to be a secret, so in order to write this blog, I had to ask Frankie’s permission. If you want to know more about him, you can go to his website here.

Let me say that I didn’t know what to expect, since I had never been to a shaman anywhere. Numerous people asked me if there would be “hallucinogenic” aids (call them drugs, natural weeds, etc.), and the answer is absolutely no. Frankie doesn’t use them! What he does use is this: healing rubs (specific plants for specific purposes used in specific ways mixed with olive oil and beeswax, plus his vibrations added), the land (meaning earth, water, plants, wind, birds, mountains), and himself. Frank is a simple and magnificent storyteller and a gentle spirit.

Healing Rubs
Frankie met me at the hotel, sauntering in with cowboy hat, friendly and low key. We talked for a short while, then he gave me Pintye Pintye healing rub and had me place a small amount in the palm of one hand and rub both hands with this mixture. Then he had me place some of this rub at the base of my head (I’m thinking primitive brain region, but who knows!). We talked a little more, then he pulled some energy from various places in my body, particularly my forehead, throat, abdomen, and (this was the surprise) my knees. All I can say is that the rub smelled delicious and subtle and I felt lighter after this extraction. Frankie only stayed about 2 hours, but during this time a ”character” arrived.

On this trip, I had already read 4 books, several of them historical fiction that included “characters” who mysteriously appear and disappear. Some appear as fools or drifters, but they always carry a message and have a story to tell. This “character” in my Alice Springs adventure was a toothless, shoeless (not homeless) man in his 50s visiting his sister, and he just kept hanging around Frank and me, talking without cessation. On one hand, I was feeling annoyed that he was taking up what I perceived as “my time” with Frankie. I said nothing, since I thought he would figure out that Frank and I had an appointment, but this didn’t happen. On the other hand, I was curious about my own irritation, but even more curious about why this “character,” with whom I had no desire to interact, kept showing up during my 3-day stay. Then I figured it out: logorrhea. Most of you likely don’t know this word, but it is a character (and spiritual) disorder in which a person keeps talking (about not much, really) and doesn’t know when to stop. It can be thought of as verbal diarrhea (sorry to be so crude) and is an ailment that afflicts all of us sometimes and many people too often. I had just learned this word and concept a week earlier, and there it was. And now I see it everywhere!

As an aftermath of the rub, which I did every morning, I had wonderful dreams in beautiful color. I expected animals but they were more like everyday objects or plants in extreme color. If you want to know about Frankie’s rubs, you can read about them here.

The Land
Day 2, Frankie took me out on the land in his truck, just the two of us floating around. Frankie drinks coffee, smokes cigarettes, and is a country-western musician, so when we were not communing with nature, we were being derelict in these ways, singing every country western song we could find.

He took me to wonderful energy places and showed me how to hear the songs the trees sing, the music of the earth. How did he do this? Part of it was the environment, which is lush desert with amazing mountains, all of which have an ancient indigenous story, often a story about an insect, sometimes a bird, but also groups of a people doing something. Part of it was how relaxed I felt. As soon as I got off the airplane in Alice Springs, my whole body relaxed. Then the rubs and Frankie’s presence relaxed me even more. The last part is that he showed me how to hear and see. While I really wish I could explain how he did this, I really can’t exactly say because it was a big blend experience. I can say that I actually heard the song the wind sings (various songs) and trees were even easier. As Frankie explains it, all of us have vibrations; song is sound; sound is vibration. It’s more circular than linear. It’s like a subtle smell, except it is sound, not smell.

I wish I could explain the beauty, subtly, and experience more, so here is a feeble try. He took me out to a place on the land where water once flowed but had been diverted by developers. Still, it is holy. Frankie had created a circle of stones in a clearing and told me to stand in the middle and experience what happened. The first time I did this, I felt filled with light energy and something that felt like a sun god. The next day, we did it again and I had some questions I didn’t know I had answered. It was like a felt experience rather than visuals or words.

The third day (the final day), Frankie and I went out with Sue Gregory (who assists Frankie in bringing his work to white communities), and Gayle Hardie and Malcolm Lazenby, two colleagues and EIBN members from Australia who introduced me to Frankie. The group experience was different, and while I personally felt I got more from the 1-1 time, there was one more amazing experience. We were in a valley/ravine area surrounded by huge rocks and mini-mountains. Once there, he took us to a side of a big rock that “housed” a mountain spirit. Frankie suggested we each go over to it and lean in, with our hands on the rock and our heads touching it.

When I did, the rock became me (or was it vice versa). I could still feel my body, but I experienced myself as consisting of the rock itself. When I shared this with Frankie, he said, “Well, did you ask it for something?” So back I went, and did the same thing (hands, head, leaning toward it), felt myself as the rock once again, and asked for several things. I can’t honestly remember what I asked for, and even at the time, just the idea of asking for something I wanted pushed my enneatype 2 boundary (fun!) and my human boundary (really, asking a rock for something)! If I could remember what I asked for, I could tell you if I received them. But I think I did!

I’ve already said so much about him. You can read his biography below or see him on YouTube by clicking here.

I would just add that he is fun to be with (especially 1-1 when he converses more), easy to listen to, a bit ambiguous (which is good, since it makes you/me have to think about what he is saying at a deeper level), and has a very, very big dream for his people. I’m not sure about his enneatype, but most likely a social subtype 2 or a social subtype 9. Thanks, Frankie!

Frank Ansell’s Bio
As a traditional Nungkari, or healer, Frank Ansell has been chosen by the elders of his community to share their traditional culture and healing practices with others. Frank has worked with groups of non-aboriginal people for a number of years in his country and elsewhere and actively works as a Nungkari in his community. He is specifically interested in sharing his knowledge and gifts with those who have been pursuing their own spiritual way and personal growth as well as leaders and healers whose goal it is to help heal and transform the organizations and communities of which they are a part.

Frank helps others to tap into their own spiritual resources and recognise the interdependencies between one another, the natural environment, and the larger spiritual universe.

Frank combines traditional Aboriginal teaching with modern techniques, and offers a gentle, intuitive style of wisdom and humour that provokes people to reflect on the hows and whys of their actions and where they want to go. With profound simplicity he releases blocks that hold people back from achieving their goals and facilitates them to unfold their greater potential to make a difference in their own and others’ lives. He holds a Certificate IV in Mental Health, Certificate III in Clinical Healthwork and is a traditional owner and initiated man from the Undoolya region in the East MacDonnell Ranges near Alice Springs. He has co-authored a book on Mental Health for Indigenous people.

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