17 września 2003
My workshops so far
'Hard Path' workshops in Poland
1) June 1999 in Szalstry
Between 19-23 June 1999, in the neighbourhood of Szalstry in the region of Warmia, at Pyrek's field (area belonging to Edi Pyrek) I held my first workshop. Everything was wild and untamed, and when I remember it now, it had a taste of novelty and the first time. There were three of us altogether; my companions were middle-aged men with considerable experience. Neither of them took part in any of the subsequent workshops. I remember them with great gratitude. It was a bare land workshop, with tents, without any shelter in solid buildings. Despite the short time and unfavourable weather (rainy and cold), we completed all the activities that became a standard for the subsequent workshops: journeys with the drum, breathing, voice and visualization exercises, intestinal cleansing, stone sauna, fire walking, burial in the earth. I buried myself for the first time then.
2) July 1999 in Szalstry
Time: 8-14 July 1999, the same place as before. The workshop was this time for youth. My sons took part in it (15 and 17 at the time); the other participants were not much older, about 20. As was my principle then, the participants were exclusively male; 7 persons including myself. The weather was glorious for a change, sunny and hot all the time, still there was a problem with insects: we had a full set of bloodsuckers, a different species attacking us at different times of the day.
Activities were the same as before; additionally we experimented with the technique of hanging from a tree; I later gave up this technique. We had as many as three sessions in our stone sauna, developing the technique.
3) On Bear's Day on Otryt
Time: a few (how many?) days around 2nd February 2000, in Chata Socjologa Shelter House on Otryt in the Bieszczady Mountains. There were 22 participants at the most (some joined later); only men - the workshop was for men only as a principle. Participants' ages varied from 15 to over 60. The conditions were extremely difficult: a snowstorm had just passed over the Bieszczady Mountains, roads were under snow, snow covering the path to Otryt (350 m above the bottom of the valley) was untouched, snow on the slope was sometimes deeper than a man: you could be covered over your head. The way to the top was an initiation experience in itself. In order to built a stone sauna and prepare a place for fire walking we dug through one and a half meters of snow. I admire myself for the ability to find stones, necessary for the stone sauna, under the snow! The Bear Holiday ritual (2nd February), celebrated this way, seems to me worthwhile continuing.
4) Hulskie, on the summer solstice 2000
Time: 6 days at the end of June 2000. Place: Hulski stream valley, on the grounds of the former Hulskie village in the Bieszczady Mountains. Eight participants, men only, average age about 20. Activities: intestinal cleansing, drum journeys, drum playing, stone sauna and fire walking, and a few of us did also carried out burial in the earth. The workshop was strictly of an open-air character, without shelter in buildings. For the first time I had a teepee. The weather was depressing: storms, torrential rains, tremendous humidity, cold, low pressure, low clouds - but we transformed it into positive energy. As it appeared later, it was my last (so far) workshop for men only on principle.
* (Additional small workshop)
In Lacha upon the Narew river in July 2000; fire walking. It was a one-day weekend occasion, only fire walking, very successful. Minus: I hurt myself during the preparation: surgeon, stitches, etc., which had no influence on the success of the event.
5) Tarot workshop in autumn 2000
4-8 October 2000 in Solec near Busko in the Swietokrzyskie Province. 14 participants. The workshop differed from the previous ones, as it took place on the grounds of the sanatorium there, and all the activities were held under a roof. The main activities were the sessions of journeys to the sound of the drum, when we entered the spaces of tarot cards - which united the technique of journeys with the drum with the scrying technique of mental entering the tarot cards, once worked out by the magi from the Order of Golden Dawn. My lectures on the tarot cards accompanied these activities. Worth repeating and continuing! A few participants of the workshop later joined my purely "Hard Path" workshops.
* (Additional small workshop)
In Lacha upon the Narew river, in November 2000; stone sauna. Very successful. At a temperature close to 0oC, we went to have a swim in the river at night after going out of the sauna.
6) Rzepnik in February 2001
Short but intensive workshop from 16 to 18 February 2001 in Rzepnik near Krosno (Podkarpackie Province). Eight participants, including three women. In the three days we did journeys with the drum, stone sauna and fire walking. The hosts of the place were Lukasz and Sara Luczaj residing there. Despite the shelter of their house, the activities were practically all held in the open air: apart from sleeping we stayed outside in the forest away from the house. Successful, although physically demanding.
7) Pniewo in June 2001
The first workshop in Pniewo near Pila (at Ms Malgorzata Kunat's), where I have held most of my activities since that time.
It began on 20 June 2001. 16 participants, including 6 women. Some of them frequently came back - as from that event on, in the third year of my activity as a workshop leader, a group of people organized themselves around the workshop and some continuity appeared. The workshop was characterised by some crudity of form, the activities were performed with minimal means, one could say: with no decoration. A storm passed during the first stone sauna happening. A few participants wrote down their - quite dramatic - initiation experiences. When I look at the pictures of that event, some features of immaturity and surprise on some faces strikes me - as if they still didn't know inside how to receive all the experience. The set of practices: as usual; apart from the intestinal cleansing.
8) Pniewo in September 2001
Probably 12 participants. As new elements I added building circles of banners and birds, and the introduction of participants. (Each participant introduces one of the others: A introduces B, B introduces C, etc., before which they perform interviews with one another.) Activities: as before.
9) Zawadka Rymanowska in February 2002
A winter workshop, some of the activities performed indoors. The weather was mild, thaw, place easily accessible. The star of the event was Boleslaw Lesmian, whose poetry and legends we read and felt deeply. We built the stone sauna of ideal material, hazel withies. The ember path for our fire walk was constantly alive, as it was kindled and sustained by a strong wind. For the opening activity when we gathered in a circle I also introduced Chinese bell-balls, in addition to the incense and rattle used so far.
10) Midsummer workshop in Pniewo 2002
20-25 June 2002, traditionally in Pniewo. 11 participants, most of whom were habitual comers, only two new faces, family atmosphere as among the sharers of secret knowledge. Everything was done without haste, without looking at our watches, time passed naturally. We entered the graves through the stone sauna. I did (very successful) intestinal cleansing. The hit of the workshop was a myrrh incense-burning.
11) Pniewo in August 2002
2-8 August 2002. 17 participants (7 women). Long and intensive workshop. The participants were divided into four families depending on the four directions of the world and each family had their totem bird. (The birds of the four directions were first used in September of the previous year.) As new elements I introduced the trans march, skeleton meditation, work with poetry (Lesmian's poem Green jug about a woman who offered the dew for the dead to drink) and an excerise meant to help us enter a conscious dreaming world. In fact nobody entered the state of conscious dreaming, but the exercise helped wonderfully to create the right atmosphere. The weather was fine. Very successful fire walking. We entered the graves through the stone sauna - later I gave up joining these two activities.
12) Pniewo in September 2002
16-22 September 2002. I didn't note down the number of participants: anywhere from ten to twenty. I remember the workshop particularly because of deeper than usual relationships between people that started then. Deep experiences in the stone sauna: its effects, cleansing and relieving of the psyche, could be strongly felt. The follow-up of the workshop was a workshop of didgeridoo playing organised by Maja Florczykowska in October near Olsztyn, lead by Jurek Fiedoruk.
13) Pniewo in June 2003
12-16 June 2003, at the full moon. The motto was: Listening to the silence, looking into the darkness. 18 participants, including 10 persons who had previously attended one or more of the workshop or returned again later. An exclusive event, most activities performed perfectly. This time burying in the earth was done in families - in subgroups, spread over the area. There was some notion of insufficiency: 4 days appeared to be a slightly too short a period of time.
14) Pniewo in September 2003
9-15 September, at the full moon. The planned topic was: friendly creatures from inner space, and we focused practically on the person of the Guide. The group was the biggest so far: 24 persons, a few more women than men. I introduced some new activities and ideas, as an introductory exercise where the idea was to walk within the boundaries of a tight circle so that one doesn't touch the others, or sharing one's meditation experience not with everyone in the circle but only with one listener. I introduced also some individual seclusion (lasting for a few hours) at private fires during which the participants talked to the fire. Another novelty was the dances in the style of Dance Alive lead by Joanna Lukaszewicz. I assess the workshop as full of new ideas; for me it was also a successful attempt to lead such a big group.
15. Łapicze, Tarot workshop in February 2004
The workshop was held between 19-22 February, 2004 in the winter scenery of a little settlement in the Podlasie region by the Byelorussian border. Eight participants. We visualized the content of Tarot cards while listening to the sound of a drum; we also treated the cards as gates leading to the internal self.
16. Pniewo, Corpus Christi holiday in June 2004
10-13 June. Seven participants. We practised stone sauna; burial in the earth and another stone sauna as a purifying activity before the burial. We spent two subsequent nights under the earth. The only new activities were exercised with drums practised in pairs: one person beats the drum, the other travels, and then they change.
17. Pniewo, feminine workshop in July 2004
2-7 July. Twelve persons participated, apart from me only women, for none of the men who had signed up for the workshop had come. We had stone sauna twice; burial in the earth twice; trans march; integrating games; journeys with the drum; voice and breathing exercises. We were well equipped with the shaman drums: there were 6 drums for 12 persons (plus congas). Fire walk was very successful; the record holder went along the path of embers 9 times! A new exercise was staring into the sky, that is using the sight of the sky as the medium monotonizing the visual channel while simultaneously monotonizing hearing with the drum. (Usually the visual channel is monotonized by blindfolding). The exercises turned out to be successful, promising and worth continuing. The weather was fine, although it was rather cool for the beginning of summer, still the rains avoided us and we were not troubled either by the sun or heat and the soil in the graves was sufficiently damp. [See also: Women and Pisces (by Asia Green Star, in Polish)]
18. Great Vision Quest - August 2004 in Pniewo
2-4 August 2004. Ten participants, including myself; five women and five men. Enough drums to perform pair activities: one person beats the drum, the other meditates. This time the traditional activities: journeys with the drum, stone sauna, trans walk, fire walking and burial in the earth, served as an introduction to the main point of the programme, the "Drum and Oxygen" exercises, which are pair work drum activities and journeys with the drum intensified with breathing work. We spent one day in seclusion by individual fires, in silence and without contacting one another. We started one day with trans walk and walk with the focus on the world. We read the Black Elk's and Aldous Huxley's texts. The third stone sauna ended with a dance. A lot happened beside the main exercises; there was a lot of individual work by the participants. [See also...; Pictures...].
19. Singing workshop in September 2004, the same place
8-13 September 2004. Including myself there were 21 participants. A diversified group in respect of the level of advancement, interests and attitude. Exercises in archaic singing (Ukrainian and Russian tradition) lead by Witold Kozlowski were the novelty. [See also: Dream Time (by Maria Lazar, in Polish)]
*** (additional meeting)
Rally in Grzymek (near Grodzisk Mazowiecki) at the equinox 2005, 18-20 March; the meeting was not a workshop, but a rally with mostly spoken activities. The shamanic activities included stone sauna, co-led by Alina Michalik. There were also meditations with drums and an experiment led by Lukasz Luczaj concerning recognizing the properties of medicinal plants by intuition.
20. Corpus Christi holiday in May 2005
26-29 May 2005 in Pniewo. Programme: stone sauna on the first evening, next day digging out the Sanchez graves and going under the earth for the night, stone sauna on the third day. We also performed the drum sound and breathing exercises, including those performed in groups of three: one person lies relaxed and travels, the second person beats the drum and the third helps the first to breath properly. We didn't dig rectangular graves, but oval ones. Ten participants, including 6 former participants. The weather: extremely hot! See also: "Workshop with Beetles" (in Polish).
21. Turn of June and July 2005 � initiation workshop
28 June � 3 July 2005 in Pniewo. Standard: stone sauna at the beginning and at the end, in the meantime journeys with the drum, Sanchez burial and fire walking. Untypical practices included a trip to the local Pilawa river and going into the water as we were, in our clothes. Participants sharp and well-disciplined. See more in the report by Pawel Bragoszewski "When a Deer dived into the Corn".
22. Experimental workshop in August 2005
1 � 10 August 2005. Nine persons; the longest workshop I have held so far. We practised new activities: ecstatic body postures according to the book by Belinda Gore and the mirror gazing technique developed by Raymond Moody. Seventeen participants, including myself: eight women, nine men. See more: "Ecstatic Body Postures and the Mirror Visions" (in Polish).
23. Underground stone sauna in May 2006, Brodki
This was a very short event, two nights 12-14 May 2006, though I still give it a number, because we built a "Slavic" stone sauna according to a new idea. See also...
(Previously, on 19 March, we held a stone sauna for the first time, in snow and frost, in complete winter scenery).
24. Drum workshop in June 2006, Pniewo
The main topic was exercises with drums; all the other activities were of a rather peripheral character. The workshop was light, there was no burying, fire walking or intestine cleansing. See also...
Since that time, in this year 2007, I have not held any workshops, and more precisely I have not organized any events long enough to be called "workshops"; those I held were not of the "shamanic" character, and those which were long enough and "shamanic" were not organized by me.
translated by Maja Florczykowska
maya [at] op.pl