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Sunday, 18 September 2016

Inspirational dads: an interview with a real life shaman

Imagine my shock when after writing about the curious tale of Gary the shaman 'exorcising' my childhood packed lunches, a real life shaman saw my tweet about it and said, "Cool story, bro." What are the chances of that?!

I'm fascinated by things like this, and his Twitter bio said that not only was he a shaman, but also an artist, and a gay dad. So this is how I met Daniel McIlvenny-Cox.

I thought this would be a brilliant interview, to learn more about him. Here goes...

Picture of Daniel McIlvenny-Cox, the bearded Shaman

Daniel, why are you a shaman?
I guess I should start at the beginning. I decided to become a shaman after a healing with a Peruvian shaman. I had suffered mental health issues for decades before, after a concoction of pills, hours of counselling, psychotherapy and cognitive behavioural therapy, nothing much seemed to shift the grief within me. I was always interested in alternative therapies and tried crystal healing, reiki and acupuncture too.

I decided to see a shaman. Chris Waters of Spirit of the Inca, based in Reading, is a shaman of Peruvian tradition (otherwise known as a Paqo, or Mystic). Within two hours I was skipping down the road laughing, my friends didn’t even recognise me. I knew that’s what I wanted to do.

Wow! How did you learn to become an 'official' shaman then?
It took a few years for me to answer the Call, then a couple of years of training (official training anyway, because we never stop learning). For example, the Medicine Wheel, where we learn to heal our own wounds, and gain the tools to heal others.

This is Daniel McIlvenny-Cox's Mesa, a crucial tool in my healing work.  It's a bundle of sacred stones called 'Kuya', held within a holy Peruvian cloth.
This is my Mesa, a crucial tool in my healing work.  It's a bundle of sacred stones called 'Kuya', held within a holy Peruvian cloth.
The Munay Ki rites, are a set of nine sacred rites that transform your DNA at a soul level from Homo Sapiens to our future self, 10,000 years from now, Homoluminous. Shadow working, where we work, heal and listen to our shadow selves, the dark parts of our selves we are ashamed of, and the golden parts we have never claimed. And finally, working with the Mythic.

Daniel McIlvenny Cox, the Bearded Shaman, performing a sacred fire ceremony
This is me performing a sacred fire ceremony.
This is where we walk within the mythic realms, understanding our story at a mythic level. It’s intense, it’s emotional (and that's an understatement.) It’s only for the brave, it’s powerful, transfomational, beautiful and like coming home. It’s an aspect of me now.

Interesting! So what are some of the recent 'gigs' you've had?
I work with many types of people, with various issues; child abuse, domestic abuse, neglect, drug addiction, depression, soul loss, relationship issues and of course death. I would say most if not all my clients have left transformed in some way, for the better. I have done house clearings before, that’s pretty weird. Sending ‘ghosts’ home is actually quite emotional and beautiful, though sometimes it’s a little frightening. It depends on the client, and by client I mean the departed one who's stuck.

How do you advertise your services?

All of my clients come to me purely through word of mouth.

What's been your proudest shamanic moment?
Chipping away at a wall someone has created around them, seeing them come out, just for a moment, and experience freedom and light and life. When there is a breakthrough, when I open up and we share our tears together, that is when I am my proudest.

Aside from this interview, what are your most frequently asked annoying questions?
I am an adoptive dad, a gay dad, so obviously I was expecting the Spanish Inquisition when it came to being gay and wanting to adopt. At the adoption panel, being gay was not even discussed, being a shaman was. “Tell me,” one panel member asked, “when you are going into a trance like state, do you use drugs? Herbal or otherwise? And if you do, how long are you unconscious for? Where will the child be at the moment of incoherence?”
I was a little pissed at the question to be honest, more so at the lack of research and lack of consideration of asking me first. No, I don’t use drugs. Nag Champa incense is a lovely smell, but apart from Palo Santo wood which I use to clean the energy field and Aqua de Florida for blessing and cleaning, I use no drugs of any kind.

We do go into a light trance, but I am fully aware of the room etc. We shaman travel to the other world to see what’s going on in your soul, past lives, old wounding’s etc. We may use a drum, or like me, a rattle, maybe whistling.

When the whole crew has knowledge of self but still likes to get down - funny meme featuring Jesus and Shiva
...It sounds like the adoption panel was picturing a scene like this!
What's your house like? I'm curious about the house of a shaman!
I think people think I live in a dark forest, or on the edge of a mountain, a witch’s cottage full dried herbs and pickled creatures. I live near Reading in Theale, a suburban village. My husband is responsible for the look, it’s a mixture of gentleman chic and toddler bedlam. I tend to hide all his toys under the stairs when clients come a knocking!

So tell me about how you found it adopting a child?
As I said earlier, I am a gay dad, me and my partner Tom have been together for fifteen years and married for five. We decided to adopt about two years ago, we actually found the process really easy and straight forward, in total it took nine months from, “Hi, we’d like to adopt!” to, “Oh fuck, I have shit on my forehead!” so the same amount of time for a straight couple I guess.

Picture of Daniel McIlvenny-Cox the bearded shaman with his son Kai and husband Tom
(From L-R) Daniel, Kai and Tom.
Nice pic! So how old was Kai when you adopted him?
Kai was 10 months old when I first saw his profile, then 14 months when he finally arrived home.

What's he like?
He’s two and a half now and equal portions of angel and demon! Laughing one minute, crying the next. Just like me!

How have you found it, what have been the most challenging things about fatherhood?
I did a LOT of shamanic work, before and during, working with the mythic helped a lot I think. I stepped into fatherhood away from fear and loss, and the night of a fire ceremony that was held in honour of our new stories, my son was being born. That’s the power of our work.

Being a gay dad is no different from being a straight one, I was the stay at home dad for a year, it was tough, isolating, massively rewarding and something I will always remember.

Picture of Daniel McIlvenny-Cox the bearded shaman, with his son Kai
Daniel and Kai.
I think the most challenging thing I faced was that I am quite selfish. I love time to myself to Be, to meditate, to do shamanic work, see clients, write, work out, or paint.

Finding time to do even one of those things is hard, but I try to bend time, (mastery over time is another shamanic power) and I can find time to do something. Besides, my son loves to sleep, lucky me!

Tell me about your art, and your creative side.
I am a yet-to-be-published writer, I write stories that are spiritually enlightening, yet entertaining and real. For example I just finished a story about a young girl’s journey through death to transformation from child abuse to adulthood and love.

I am also an artist, again I guess the mythic and mystical is my inspiration, a lot of it is from my shamanic journeying to the under or upper worlds, they are fascinating to say the least.

Painting by Daniel McIlvenny-Cox the Bearded Shaman, of One of my ceremonial pieces, depicting Pachamama, Andean earth Goddess, with a still life of my Mesa. This is from a collection I am doing for an exhibition based on the sacred rites of passage to becoming Paqo, shaman mystic.
One of my ceremonial pieces, depicting Pachamama, Andean earth Goddess, with a still life of my Mesa. This is from a collection I am doing for an exhibition based on the sacred rites of passage to becoming Paqo, shaman mystic.
Wow, that's amazing!
I have recently struggled to class myself as an artist, I thought I was a shamanic artist, or maybe a visionary, but they didn’t sit right. I saw myself a bit like an Iconographer but I am not exactly a Christian, so after a discussion with a fellow traveller, I realised I am a ceremonial artist. I call the image to appear, I call the presence of whatever I am drawing, painting, creating, I open sacred space and it manifests itself.

But sometimes to relax I just doodle the fuck out of something!

Original art by Daniel McIlvenny-Cox, the bearded shaman. A piece depicting the healers of the world, past, present and future.
This piece depicts the healers of the world, past and present, and future.
Incredible! So if people reading this want to reach out, how can they find you?
I have yet to finish my proper website, but if you want to find me, you can follow me on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest under The Bearded Shaman #thebeardedshaman - do say hi!

I love to meet new people and if you are local to the Reading or Theale area I am here as your friendly neighbourhood shaman! In Lak’etch, it means ‘I am another you’ in Quechua, the language of the Q'ero people of the Andes, the linage I am now blessed to be joined with as Paqo.

I also have a blog, if you're interested in reading it -

Thanks very much to Daniel McIlvenny-Cox for this, aka Shaman, aka Dadda.

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  1. What an incredible, lovely and inspirational article. I have had the lucky experience of working with Daniel and for anyone that reads this looking for encouragement to meet with this truly talented soul, take this now. It is the perfect opportunity to take the first step in personal development and well being. I look forward to his books being published. Loulabelle

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Thanks very much for the comment. Check out the 'about me' section for a link to my Facebook page.