Renee Baribeau, also known as The Practical Shaman, tells us more about Wind Work, an unusual but ancient practice that uses the many Wind Gods and Goddesses to align our Spirit and Magnetic North and keep us shifting in the right direction.
Renee, please share with us a little about your background and education.
I grew up in Western Massachusetts and this is where I developed my early love for nature through activities such as girl scouting, summer camp etc.
I have always been a visionary and for the last thirty years have been learning how to walk in integrity in this world and about the esoteric and healing realms. However, I walk in two worlds as I was always first and foremost a businesswoman. I am a business executive, have studied Graphic Design, and amongst other things was a world class Chef at a Country Club. I have always been involved in both business and healing.
I always saw myself as a businesswoman and leader yet people kept coming to my house at night or calling me for help. My healing abilities were somehow always called into practice, so I was, let’s say, a reluctant shaman. I wasn’t aware at the time but, in my twenties, people would be dying and I would walk them to the other side. It was because of this constant stream of people knocking at my door that I started taking courses to heal myself. People kept asking me why I wasn’t learning to do this as my Dharma and my answer would always be ‘because I am a businesswoman’.
How would you define a shamanic healer?
A Shaman is somebody who travels to the unseen realms to help people with healing within a community and for the wellbeing of a community. Often when people first become healers, they spend those initial years healing their own problems and personal problems of others and then at some point, they turn their attention to more collective issues. For example, is there enough food to go round, the general healing and wellbeing of the community, topics of longevity, survival and reproduction are often at the fore.
How and when did you first come to learn of ‘wind healing’ if indeed we can use this term?
I call it Wind Work. The winds have been around for over four billion years. The belief is that the wind has always held all the information we need as humanity to navigate this earth plane. About 12,500 years ago, when we moved from the outside to the inside, we lost our way with nature and the wind, and our visionary tools shifted from ‘windeyes’ to ‘windows’. Simultaneously, We stopped communicating with people who spoke the same tribal language and started communicating with those that spoke the same religious language. We moved from migration to land ownership, and we then needed an intermediary to understand what was being said to us in the spiritual realms. Priests would start to interpret what the wind was saying to us and would transmit the message in dedicated indoor areas, i.e. churches.
On a personal level, the wind started speaking to me about 8 years ago, but I soon realised that people had to understand their own personal messages in the wind. As I researched this modality, I came across many ancient techniques; the wind that sailors used to create wind knots in the 1500’s, the wind believers in Turkey who used the wind to navigate through the deserts together, and many more.
I think that as a result of my research, I opened up a channel which allowed the wind to speak. I found over 150 Wind Gods and Goddesses that were here informing people on how to live with nature in harmony and balance. Little attention is paid to the trivial problems encountered in life and focus is more on a person’s balance, strength and qualities that come through.
We have been working with these practices in my Windclan group and unraveling and exploring how to use them for actual healing. Crazy things have happened, for example, we’ll be in the middle of a workshop and someone will have a spontaneous soul retrieval, or if people have been stuck in their life with a particular situation or problem, the wind comes in and literally shifts them from their rut. People can learn how to interpret the wind messages through wind walks and can then start having their own dialogue. I call it a ‘revelation revolution’ whereby the wind has given us permission once again to be magical humans. That was taken from us when we shifted from the migratory lifestyle to the indoors and when going to ‘church’ was needed for us to be cleansed with religious rituals. We are now taking that power back and it is allowing us to reconnect with nature.
Is Wind Work considered an official healing modality?
No not yet, but we are working on it. It will be. This year I’m teaching my first ten month apprenticeship program where I’m teaching others to teach the practice. In the United States a process of certifying healers is currently underway, and I’m trying to certify the Wind Work program.
My Windclan group on Facebook has about 3700 members at this point. Many thought they were ‘alone’ and the existence of this group is amazing as we all share our experiences and realise there are others out there with similar outlooks, beliefs and values. It is as if the wind is bringing people (us) together.
Please tell us about your award-winning book Winds of Spirit and why it is a must read.
Winds of Spirit was published by Hay House, won a novelist gold award in non-traditional religion, so it was recognised as a significant piece of writing, It has been doing pretty well. It’s just a great book.
How did you find inspiration for your book?
Once I started uncovering the Wind Gods and Goddesses, there was no stopping me. My book is like an encyclopaedia that will live on like ruins (I mean that in the best possible way). It’s a resource directory on how to get back in touch with listening to the winds. At first I thought the wind was a metaphor; Mary Poppins came in on the East Wind and left on the West Wind, Sherlock Holmes talked of an East wind coming, as does the Bible. I always thought these tales were metaphors and then one day I blew my wind whistle and my outlook changed. In the back of my book there are 32 Wind Gods and Goddesses who have really strong mythologies attached to them and who will come to you when you call them. They make and allow for change.
The more research I did, the more the Gods and Goddesses started to come forth. I found winds all over the world. I started researching the ones that I could find the most information on and then I would start to call and whistle to them and they would come to me as a strong energetic force. Gradually, thousands of people started working with them, we would have similar experiences of how these winds would appear in our lives and could start to compare notes.
You offer a coaching program described as providing ’12 weeks to self-mastery’. Could you explain to our readers what this entails.
One of the programs I offered last year taught people how to tie wind knots for power, another was how to whistle up a wind for personal healing . Wind is the alchemy for magic and this is really what we are working with.
(At this point of the interview Renee sent me my own personal healing wind using a wind whistle. A beautiful and magical moment..apparently while Renee was clearing some of my energy, one of her Wind Goddesses came in and threw the negative energy past the farthest star beings and transmuted it into love and light).
Would you describe yourself as a life coach with a spiritual stance?
People, generally speaking, have lost their way with Spirit so whenever I coach someone for their business or any other reason, I always make sure we have some kind of spiritual practice, not religious but spiritual. People find their way back to their Magnetic North. It’s not necessarily ABOUT the wind, it’s WHERE the wind will take a person to align them with their Magnetic North. The fact that I’m a business executive helps me to coach people in an effective way, but the wind is what gets people moving towards the goal they really want. If you are sailing, you have an intended harbour and if you sail with the wind behind you it’s a smooth expedient journey. If you are going against the wind, you may fly higher but you may miss your path. It all comes down to making sure our Spirit and Magnetic North are aligned with our goals.
How does one become a Wind Alchemist?
Doing the courses, reading the book, joining the Windclan. The wind is there for everyone. Anyone can work with the wind as long as they are open to it. Having said that, some of my strongest wind believers are those who hated the wind. Until one learns wind magic, one may have a tendency to resent and hate the wind.
If people are interested or would like to go into more detail, they can download a free set of Wind Spirit cards from my website and see how they work for them on a personal level. It’s like a direct revelation, take my word for it.
You also perform ceremonies using fire. Are all the elements of importance?
The five elements are all balanced and everything is interconnected.