Article: An Interview with Isa Gucciardi
Summary: Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D., discusses her teachers, her inspiration, and the universal accessibility of Earth-based wisdom.
Q. What brought you to this line of work?
A. The beauty of nature has always been an inspiration to me. From the time I was a very young child, I had trouble reconciling the fact that most humans seem to have difficulty appreciating or understanding the sanity and organization of nature that seems so fundamental to my observations. Through all of the subjects I teach – from Integrated Energy Medicine, Depth Hypnosis, Applied Shamanism to Buddhist Psychology – I am always endeavoring to help people move into a place where they can begin to appreciate the beauty of the world which supports us. I think it is the desire to open people to this beauty and to align myself more fully with it that brought me here.
Q. Who are your biggest teachers?
A. I had the good fortune to spend my early childhood in Hawaii – and I spent a lot of time outdoors by myself. The ocean, the plants, the animals and the sky there were my first teachers. I also had the good fortune to study with Krishnamurti and Joseph Campbell when they were alive. His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a major inspiration to me, as is Robert Thurman. But I would have to say my children are my greatest teachers.
Q. How do you define Shamanism?
A. Shamanism is a set of practices that bring us more fully into concert with the wisdom of the Earth. The Earth is a teacher whose lessons are ever-deepening to her students. By learning how to hold and participate in transformative processes the way she does, we can enter into a profound and expansive dance with her. Shamanic practice provides many avenues to understanding how the Earth heals. It allows us to become her apprentice in a very direct and instructive way.
I know there are many forms of shamanism that have become laden with cultural, political or social considerations or forms of shamanic practice which direct the Earth’s power into these types of considerations. These practices are of interest to me only insofar as I must understand them in order to help those who are tangled in these types of practices emerge from them.
Q. How can we all bring shamanism into our daily lives more fluidly?
A. I think it is important to remember that the Earth’s wisdom is a birthright we all share. I think it is important to get away from notions that support the idea that this wisdom belongs to one indigenous culture or another – or that white people of European descent are culture vultures if they seek to meet the Earth through shamanic practices. Shamanism is, fundamentally, a medicine for the spirit. As a species, we are confronting a crisis of spirit of major proportions and most people alive today desperately need this medicine. The Earth does not distinguish skin color in offering her wisdom. We should not make these kinds of distinctions in receiving it.
Q. What books inspire you?
A. Music has always inspired me more than the written word, but I have always been an avid reader. As a child, I was a voracious reader of biographies and autobiographies of Native Americans. As a young teenager, Edward Hall’s books documenting the arbitrary nature of culturally-determined conceptions of time, persona and behavior were very inspiring to me. I had traveled around from place to place and observed the arbitrary relationships people had to reality. Practices which were taboo in one place were honored in another. His writings helped me organize and articulate my experience in a most helpful way. I was also very inspired by the writings of Alice Bailey and other Theosophists as a youngster. I consider myself a bit of connoisseuse of channeled material, and I have learned a lot through the channels of Jane Roberts and Eva Pierrakos. As an adult, Carl Jung’s writings have provided much understanding to me. Throughout my life, I have constantly tried to understand the writings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama at all the levels he addresses. Most recently, Robert Thurman’s book, Inner Revolution, touched something very deep within me.
Q. What words of wisdom can you impart to our readers?
A. I think it is very important for people to seek to develop a clear pathway to that which inspires and motivates them at the deepest level. It is important for everyone to do whatever work they have to do to clear the obscurations they have to understanding what this inspiration and motivation might be. Nothing else really matters. It is the work that we do in this direction that we take with us when we die. We must honor our good fortune to be born at a moment where we have so many ways of understanding who we really are. We should not waste a moment. We must take advantage of every opportunity presented to us to become more fully who we are and to tear away or transform those things which keep us from seeing ourselves clearly. If we can learn to honor that which lies in our hearts, we will be able to meet and honor the Earth the way she has always met and honored us.