Shamanic Tools for Self Belief and Self Worth

April 19, 2021

Many people struggle to make time for the things that they know are good for them.

A few months ago, I began writing a series of blogs that explore making time for a spiritual practice. Making time for the important things isn’t just limited to giving enough time over to following a spiritual practice. So many of us don’t spend enough time on ourselves doing the things we love doing. We don’t give enough time to relaxation, diet, fitness, play, joy, or spending our days in the company of the people we love doing the things we love doing.

This blog completes my time-series trilogy. I focus on the topic of self-worth as a barrier to making time for those things that we want to do, or rather a lack of self-worth. It is sad that something happens in our culture that leads people to feel like they are not enough and are not good enough. This leads to low self-esteem and a lack of self-belief and confidence.

From my experience, this core belief is one of the driving forces for being too busy for not only a spiritual practice but for anything that nurtures you and brings you joy, just for you. It may not even be conscious.

Do any of these statements ring true to you?

  • I lack the confidence to act on the urge to do things I am interested in.
  • I doubt myself and find I can over analyse a situation.
  • I find I am always so busy doing things for other people, there is little time left for me.
  • I struggle to trust in myself that I am enough.

And specifically relating to a spiritual practice:

  • I don’t feel I am particularly spiritually advanced and feel like a fraud
  • I worry whether I am doing it right
  • I am concerned about what ‘normal’ people think of me
  • I have doubts about what I see in my shamanic journeys and think I might be making it all up.
  • I can feel anxious because I start to think 'what if I can't do this’?

If you can relate to one or more of these statements, then read on, as I have written this blog for you.

I share my own experiences around low self-worth and how it impacted my life, leading me to become a very busy and exhausted person. I also reflect on how a lack of self-belief manifested its way through into my spiritual practice and what happened to overcome it. I wrap up by giving examples of how a lack of self-belief and self-worth can be worked with using the Shamanic toolkit.

Self-worth, work and me

Self-worth is something I struggle with, and I know I am not alone in this. I am getting a lot better. Maybe it's something that improves with age. I certainly think it is something that increases the more personal and spiritual development work a person does.

If you have read some of my previous blogs, you may already know that I struggle with overworking. I could certainly classify my excessive approach to work as an addiction. Over recent years, I have realised that not feeling I am good enough has been a key player in me overworking. It has also been instrumental in me not allowing myself time to do the things I love.

In a nutshell, a lack of self-worth has been a barrier to making time for myself.

When I worked in an organisations as an employee, I would feel good about myself if my boss or senior managers congratulated me. I told myself that if I did this particular work for that person, I would be more worthy. If I achieved or exceeded my targets, I would be rewarded, which felt good to be recognised.

My sense is that to a certain degree, this is normal. However, in my case, I took it to excess. This ultimately meant that I gave over so much more time than I was contracted to work. I also gave the absolute best of me, which didn't leave much energy for my free time. As is so often the way with our underlying issues, it became amplified. I was working more and more, with less and less time available for me. There were other factors at play as well, driving me to be this way, but a lack of self-worth was a key player.

I know that this is something that many people who are drawn to the Earth path also experience. It might not be in the same case as me with paid employment. It might be something else that they give time to: caring for children, caring for elderly parents, caring for anyone.

What can happen when we give and give, in order to feel worthy, is that we stop giving to ourselves.

If this rings true to you, if you are someone who finds you don’t have time to do the things that are good for you, the things that bring you the most joy, purely for you, it might be that the underlying issue is your self-worth.

There is a popular phrase in spiritual circles: ‘you need to love yourself’. However, from my experience, this is easier said than done. I still haven’t entirely put my finger on why I have undervalued myself, but I am almost certain it is ancestral. I believe religion and education have a part to play and the class system: I was brought up in a working-class family.

Although I haven’t fully worked through all of the reasons why I have low self-worth, I am certain of how it has impacted me in life and my decisions. I also have an antidote, and towards the end of this blog I will share a couple of activities using the Shamanic toolkit that can help if this is something you are also working with like me.

In the beginning

I was an extremely shy child and very low in confidence. I dreaded being asked to read aloud in the classroom and was petrified of standing up in front of people. I carried this fear into my university years: the thought of having to give a presentation consumed me. I struggled with anxiety and depression in my early adult years.

One of the first spiritual books I bought was ‘Feel Your Fear And Do It Anyway: How to be more confident’ by Susan Jeffers. Fear held me back from doing the things that I was drawn to do. I needed a hefty dose of confidence. I worked through many aspects of this in my personal and professional life through my twenties and overcame many of my challenges in my everyday life. My personal development interest led to a thirst for exploring my spirituality, and I started to look into different practices and teachings.

My line of enquiry eventually led me to attend a Reiki 1 training course. It was about 15 years ago, and there weren’t many courses on this, so I had to travel across from my home in Cheshire to Yorkshire. I also didn’t know anyone who was ‘interested in this kind of thing’ and so I went on my own, not knowing anybody and feeling quite out of my depth.

During the afternoon, we practised giving reiki to each other. When I gave reiki, I felt nothing. Naturally, I compared myself to the other participants who were excitedly saying ‘I feel heat in my hands’ and ‘I can see colours’. I felt like a fraud and that I couldn’t do it, as I didn’t have any of these experiences. I doubted that I had a spiritual connection at all.

However, that didn’t deter me from carrying on trying as it felt right in my body. My mind couldn’t figure it all out, but it felt good inside. For several years I pursued reiki and explored other spiritual teachings, including meditation, working with angels and developing my psychic skills. I read all kinds of spiritual books, including books on Shamanism.

All this time I didn’t think I would ever get that spiritual connection that I heard others had. But I didn’t mind so much as everything I was learning was so interesting, and it all just felt right.

However, although I wasn’t too concerned about whether I could do it or not during this exploratory time, what did bother me was that I didn’t know whether what I was doing with my life was what I was here to do. I had realised that I chose this life for a reason, that I had a soul purpose. I found it infuriating that I didn’t know what that purpose was, nor whether I was fulfilling it. I had a real concern that I, we, humanity was running of our time.

My career was in environmental management and sustainability, so I was very aware of climate change and the impact humans were increasingly having on the Earth. I wanted to be sure that I was spending my time in the best possible way to help reverse this and make a difference to our future and the future of the Earth.

I wanted to know whether I was on the right path and felt that if I had a spiritual connection, I would get this confirmation. I felt I would then know what it was that I needed to be doing. At the time, I felt like I was walking through life blindfolded with no signposts to help me find my way.

Then something happened to change all that. Something happened to enable me to believe in myself and the spiritual guidance that I was receiving through the various practices I was trying. I wasn’t consciously looking for proof that I had a spiritual connection, but I was looking for proof from the spiritual realms that I was on the right path. On this particular day, I got both.

But there are no eagles in England

I was one day into my first Shamanic residential weekend. I had just embarked on an eight-weekend programme working around the wheel of the year, which Jayne Johnson of Embodied Shamanism was running.

It took place in the beautiful valley of Roeburndale in the Forest of Bowland in Lancashire. I was on the course with five other participants, all who were new to me. One of them was Jason.

It was the Spring Equinox, and we were working with animals of the air. I journeyed and met Robin and Eagle on Saturday morning, and then in the afternoon, we were sent off to spend a few hours exploring the woodland and meadows. With drum in hand and a blanket to sit on, I marched off down to the river, to some faery pools I knew about. I wanted to cleanse myself and finally cut the ties with the corporations following my redundancy the year before.

On arrival at the point in the river where it was deep enough to swim, I stripped off and stepped into the icy water. Those of you who have been wild swimming with me in the past at our retreats know that I am always enthusiastic at getting to the water’s edge, but when it comes down to it, I am in and out quicker than superhuman speed!

I struggle with the cold water, especially outside of the summer months, so it was a brief dip, to say the least, but I felt cleansed and satisfied with my ritual. I dried myself with my blanket, got dressed and marched off to find an oak tree to spend the rest of the afternoon under.

Sitting under the oak tree in a meadow far from the yurt, I felt totally alone and very content. I drummed a little and looked up to the sky.

Instantly I saw a large bird of prey circling. It was an Eagle, riding the thermals right in front of me, circling round and round. It was a special moment.

Once it was time to leave, feeling most satisfied with my afternoon’s happenings, I trotted off to share my story with the others. Which I did, and everyone smiled and listened intently as I shared my adventure tale with my new found shamanic friends.

Fast forward to the next and final day of our retreat. We paired up, and Jason and I spent the morning taking each other to our individual spots. I took him straight to the faery pools again, and we sat on the pebbly beach drumming to the river rapids. After a good trance drumming session, we placed our drums to our sides and lay back, heads resting on rock pillows and eyes staring up to the sky.

There he was again. Eagle was hovering high above us, circling round and round.

Excitedly I said to Jason: 'Hey look, my eagle is back'. In a surprised voice he replied: ‘goodness, it’s an eagle up there’.

‘I know it’s an eagle’ I said, ‘that is what I have been telling you all’.

‘I know’ he said, 'but none of us believed you. We all thought you had seen a buzzard. Why? Because there are no eagles in England. The nearest is in the Scottish borders.’

“Well,” I said, “it can’t be an eagle”.

“No, it is” Jason replied. “I can tell because of its wingtips. They are spread out and pointing much more upright than a buzzard”.

There it was. In that moment, I knew for the first time in my life that I was in the right place, at the right time, with the right person. I was where I was meant to be. I knew that had I not been there to see the eagle for a second time, and with Jason to explain the significance of what I was seeing, I would never have recognised how important that appearance was.

In the following weeks after that incident, as unimaginable changes unfolded in my life, I held onto that moment. In my darkest hours, and there were many, I trusted unconditionally that I was on the right path and I was being taken care of. I clung to that encounter and put faith in it as I had never done with anything else before.

When I saw the eagle for a second time, that moment was a profound moment for me in my life and my spiritual path.

That single affirmation told me that I was on the right course. That was all I needed to start to believe in myself and my spiritual connection.

As I continued to learn and experience Shamanism as a spiritual path, I found that the proof was, in fact, in the pudding. I would receive guidance when shamanic journeying and also when out in nature. I would follow the message I was given, and my life would change in the way I hoped it would.

My life got better. It was topsy-turvy for a few years, I have to admit, but as the metaphoric walls came crumbling down around me and creating carnage as they fell, I had a deep trust in my spiritual connection and my spirit guides that everything was going to be ok. Over time, the things that weren’t so helpful for me in my life fell away as I turned my attention to where I believe my soul wanted me to go and be. I stripped away old parts of me and revealed a truer version of Nicola.

Self-worth and spiritual connection

Having a belief in my spiritual connection and learning to trust myself has helped me work on my self-worth. Interestingly, from that point, I gave away all of my personal development books, including the ones I have referenced here. I didn't feel I needed them anymore.

In the years that followed that encounter with the eagle, I found myself repeating the same patterns of overworking that I experienced in my earlier years. However, this time, I was able to tune in with my spirit guides as well as seek support from my mentors in this reality, including my shamanic teacher, Jayne. I could bring this feeling that I am not enough up into my conscious mind and take steps to overcome my patterns.It is something I am still working with and I don’t know if I will ever truly crack it, but I have made great inroads.

I have been able to play more and prioritise my time more for me. I have explored my creative side, taking up hobbies including horse riding, dancing, drawing, writing and learning the ukulele. I didn’t believe any of these things were possible earlier in my adult life as I was so consumed with work and doing things for other people. There was just no time for me.

As you have made it this far into my blog, the chances are that you can relate to some of my experiences. You might be asking the question: ‘what can I do in my spiritual practice to help strengthen my own self-worth and self-belief?’. ‘Do you have any tips Nicola’?

As a matter-of-fact, I do, and I can summarise them into five tips for others who struggle with self-worth, starting with self-belief:


Believe in your spiritual connection. Trust the messages that you receive and follow through on the advice. If you do this, then before long, your spirit guides will show you something that will serve as ‘proof’ that you are on the right track and not making it all up. For me, it was my eagle sighting. I have countless examples of stories people have shared with me about similar experiences, where they are shown something in a journey or dream, and then it materialises in this physical reality, serving as confirmation for them.

Whatever you are doing as an Earth-based spiritual practice, whether it be shamanic journeying, nature connection time, working with tree spirit medicine, the Wheel of the Year, or anything else, carry on with it and trust that one day your spirit guides will give you the sign that you need to see that you are ‘not making it all up’.

2.Hold onto the proof

When you do receive that confirming message, hold on to it. Don’t forget it. Remind yourself of it whenever you feel wobbled. Let it be a reminder that you are not walking this path alone. You have an entourage of helpers in the spirit realm who are guiding you along the way.

3.Saying ‘No’

I have shared my story of how having low self-worth translated in my life, as I was constantly busy doing things for other people, so I felt valued. The antidote for this was to learn to say the word 'no'. It is such a little word, but one I found incredibly hard to say. When I worked as a sustainability manager in the corporations, if someone asked me to do something, I would say yes. You might have heard of the phrase: ‘ask a busy person if you want something done’. Well, that was me. Ask Nicola; she will do it.

When I was at breaking point, unable to cope with the pressure at work anymore, I came across a psychotherapist, Liz. I talk about how I met her in my previous two time-series blogs, so I won’t say too much here, other than it wasn’t ‘planned’, or rather I didn’t consciously plan it. I knew I needed help, but I didn’t know who to turn to. I had approached my doctor but didn’t like the solution he was proposing, which was medication, and then Liz came into my life just at the right time.

For my first four years of weekly sessions with Liz, one of the things we worked on was saying no. It took that long to nail it. I did get there in the end, and I pride myself in setting my boundaries and saying no nowadays, although it still can be hard sometimes. Liz taught me that by saying no to someone else, I am saying yes to me. By saying no, I am keeping my time for things that I want me to do rather than things that someone else wants me to do.

Saying no is one of the ways to carve out more time for you. A big way, actually. It is one of the ways to demonstrate to you and to others your own self-worth.

It’s not easy. You will probably push back at it, but it is a sure-fire way of enabling you to carve out more time for the things you want to do. Not the things you feel you should do, but the things you want to do. It might take you many attempts and several years. You might need professional support to crack it. I did.

4.Learn what valuing yourself looks like

Map out in your mind what valuing yourself looks like. Ask yourself the question: ‘what would I do more of if I valued myself more?’ For me its:

  • Saying no to requests, where it isn’t my responsibility.
  • Setting my boundaries as to what I will and won’t do for someone.
  • Taking efforts, almost daily, to recognise that time for my creativity is important.
  • Not being too bothered by what people say. When people were dismissive of my interests, it used to hold me back from pursuing them. This isn’t the case anymore.
  • Not being afraid of things as much. If I feel the fear, I explore where that fear is coming from and whether it is an important emotion to hold me back or serve to my detriment.

I think back to what it might be like to live in a tribe. In order to write this blog, I journeyed to one of my animal spirit guides, Kestrel. I have been working with Kestrel in writing this trilogy of time-related blogs this year as he has the underlying energy of insight. He told me to look at how self-worth manifests itself in a tribe. I am theorising here; I have no proof, and I haven’t researched this. But I would think in a tribal situation, it is beneficial that individual’s value themselves, and they are valued.

They have a place within the community, the tribe, and are important; otherwise, they wouldn’t be in the tribe anymore. I don’t feel that our culture nurtures this way. I don’t feel our culture helps individuals feel good about themselves and that they are enough. So, where our culture lacks encouraging self-worth, we need to step up and work at the antidote to this, which is valuing ourselves more.

5.Don’t do this alone

I have mentioned previously that we each have a team of spirit guides lining up, cheering us on. As well as meeting them in the spiritual realm and receiving their messages, we can also tune into their wisdom through the things we choose to spend our time doing in this physical reality.

I get my spiritual guidance from shamanic journeying to the Otherworld’s, and spending time in nature, receiving insights from the trees and animals, and aligning my life with the natural cycles through the year. Through The Mystery School we give equal weight to both methods of attaining spiritual guidance.

Here under point 5, I will share some activity ideas on how you can help improve your self-worth, self-belief, and confidence, starting with working with animal spirit medicine.

Activity 1: Calling on help from Shrew, Bat and Puffin

Jason and I have recently completed our animal spirit guide library in The Mystery School. Over the past year, we have been researching and writing up the natural history of over one hundred species of animals native to Britain or long-standing residents.

Understanding an animal's characteristics and behaviours is the precursor to interpreting the message that they hold for us when we encounter them in a shamanic journey or out in nature.

I have learned through studying animals that even the smallest creatures have oodles of courage and confidence. So, I would say to anyone looking to top up their self-worth and self-belief, work with an animal spirit guide to help you. Animals have so much they can teach us on this topic.

Here are a few examples. If any strike you as an animal that you would like to work with, then go on a shamanic journey to meet with them and see what they have to say. If you don’t know how to journey, here is a link to our free shamanic journeying mini-course to get you started.

Of course, also, there might be another animal with the right energy for you. So, you could go on a journey to just see which animal comes forward and then research into its natural history and pick out the particular message for you. Premium level members of The Mystery School can access the Animal Spirit Guide Library via this link.

Shrew for personal power

The shrew is quite frankly an animal that I would never want to cross. Don’t be fooled by its tiny size and cute appearance. This creature is ruthless. They are fiercely territorial, frantic and ruthless killers equipped with a unique combination of superpowers. Not many people are aware of this. Despite how common they are and widespread, they are seldom seen and their habits and adaptations unknown.

Many species of shrew, including our British species, can take prey that is the same size as them or larger, such as mice, snakes, frogs, toads and newts. They can do this because they are venomous. A shrew can store enough venom to kill 200 mice. The poison is transmitted into their prey through grooves in the teeth rather than by fangs. The shrew uses it to paralyse the prey, which it then moves to a cache, so it has a fresh supply of meat which it stores alive for up to two weeks. We are lucky that the shrew isn’t larger!

Another superpower that some species have developed, including our Common shrew here in Britain, is the ability to shrink. As their metabolism is so high, they cannot store food and fatten up for winter. They have overcome this problem by reducing their body size down by up to 30%. They shorten their spines and major organs, including the heart, lungs, spleen and brain. Reduced body mass means they need to eat less food.

The shrew is the super-hero, or perhaps super-villain of the animal kingdom and its overarching message for us is personal power. Shrew is a little being with a big personality. The question to ask if you are looking to build up your self-worth in the world is: ‘how can I be more shrew-like?’

Shrew is not resistant to using its powers: all its powers. Shrew energy is grabbing life in its fullness, being prepared to make the changes and not being scared of the consequences. Shrew is a powerhouse in every way. Shrew energy is a great energy to draw on to drive you forward with renewed vigour and restored certainty in life.

Bat for self-mastery

The second animal that comes to mind for working on self-worth is Bat. This is a remarkable animal, for it is the only mammal that has truly taken to the air, the element which is otherwise the sole domain of the birds and insects. Bats are the only mammals naturally capable of true and sustained flight, having achieved this by adapting their forearms and creating wings.

The bat is a master of the air. This is not only an incredible feat given it is a mammal, but its achievements have surpassed the natural commanders of flight, birds. Bats are most comfortable in an environment that is entirely alien to others.

The bat has characteristics that are relevant when it comes to developing our own self-worth. They have acute hearing. This teaches us that in order to become masters of ourselves, we need to listen. We need to tune our ears to the deep wisdom which resides both within the depths of us, and within the Otherworlds. We need to be quiet enough to hear the voices of our spirit guides in whatever way they choose to speak with us.

Bat also uses its voice to see, enabling it to see in the dark. It does this through a process called echolocation. This is where the bat will send out sound waves from its mouth or nose, and when those waves hit an object, they bounce off and produce echoes. The bat listens to these echoes to decipher where the object is, and its size and shape, it is an incredibly effective way of detecting prey. Using echolocation, bats can detect objects as thin as a human hair in complete darkness and can even differentiate between male and female moths.

This characteristic of bat teaches us that we need to learn to use our voices. We need to learn to speak up more when we feel we aren't being heard. We need to speak up more when we feel people aren’t hearing our ‘no.

By adapting to a life in the dark, bats have achieved a great evolutionary feat in the sheer number of bat species that have evolved worldwide. They are the second-largest order of mammals after rodents and comprise about 20% of all classified mammal species worldwide.

This teaches us that it is important to realise that there is a great triumph to be realised in the darkness, and dropping into the dark is a necessary part of our life growth. This can be the unconscious, as there is so much wisdom to be brought through from there. It can also be dropping into a difficult time in our lives, knowing that this will lead us along the path to self-mastery, and we will emerge the other side more evolved.

Puffin for confidence

The third and final animal I would like to recommend working with for self-worth is Puffin. Puffins spend most of their life out at sea, resting on the waves when they are not flying, to protect themselves from one of their main predators, the seagull. Puffins are well adapted for life at sea.

They are excellent divers, and their short wings are adapted for swimming underwater to substantial depths for a bird as they use their webbed feet as a rudder. They are also excellent at flying too, with a very rapid wing beat of up to 400 times per minute and can reach speeds of up to 55 mph.

Given their size, Puffins are bold little things. If you are fortunate to go and see them when they are nesting you will notice how close they allow humans to get. The overarching message of Puffin is confidence. Although only a small bird, they have adapted a strong set of skills that serve them well. Whether it be on land, in the air or on the water, these birds have cracked it. Expert tunnellers, divers, swimmers and fliers, they boldly live the majority of their lives out on the great waves of the ocean.

Puffin can teach us that we too have the confidence within us to do the things we want to do. Draw on Puffin energy to give you the boost that you need to step up and step forward.

So, there we have it, three animals that I recommend working with for self-belief and self-worth. They are quite a collection, aren’t they?

Activity 2: Drawing on the strength of the oak

As well as receiving message and support from the animal kingdom, we can also draw on the medicine of trees.

The two trees that stand out in particular for working with self-worth are rowan for determination and oak for strength. In this blog, I will focus on oak, as it is easier to identify than rowan, especially in the summer and autumn. If you are unsure as you approach what you think might be an oak tree in the winter or spring, look onto the ground. You will see its characteristic wavy leaves that are a sure giveaway that you are standing next to an oak rather than another species that can look similar without leaves, such as sycamore or alder.

The oak holds a very special place in my heart, and I am not alone in that. There is no other tree that has such a place in British legend and folklore. There is so much history surrounding this tree, which informs its underlying energies, and it isn’t just here in Britain where the oak has such a firm place in our history. It has been revered over many centuries and in a multitude of cultures. The Greeks, the Romans, the Norse, the Celts, I could go on. They all loved the Oak.

Oak has a couple of underlying energies that are helpful here. The first is potential.

Now you might have heard of the saying: ‘from tiny acorns mighty oaks grow’. The acorn is a symbol of potential, and it is mind-blowing to think that a huge oak tree comes from a little acorn. This thought inspires me of what is possible, more than perhaps any other symbology I can think of. This potential is demonstrated in the story of the oak with humanity.

Oaks have been instrumental in the evolution of human existence on Earth. Without oak, we might not have made so much iron, which saw the dawn of the Neolithic period and early farming. Let me explain.

The oak wood is so strong that it resisted felling until humans invented metal tools to cut timber with. Oak charcoal burns very hot, and iron ore needs a very high temperature in order to extract the iron metal from its ore. It was the creation of metal through the burning of oak charcoal, which changed human history, as from metal came the iron age.

This saw the dawn of the agricultural age. Forests, where only trees had grown for thousands of years, were cleared to cultivate food. Homes that had previously been made from hazel wood and animal skins were upgraded to larger structures with oak frames. And, perhaps most significantly, large ships, which were streamlined, were made from the oak wood from the ancient forests. It was the scale of the British navy which was one of the reasons why the creation of the British Empire made possible.

So, if we are looking for reassurance that we all have a great potential within us, to help build up our self-worth, then oak is our tree for this. The oak has been essential to shaping the way we live as humans on earth, which all began from the tiny acorn.

The other quality of oak I would like to speak about is strength. The oak is known for its great strength. It is called the mighty oak and king of the forest on account of its size and great girth. Its growth is slow but sure, and it is a very long-lived tree spanning centuries. Often its trunk is hollow, and its branches gnarled and withered from being struck by lightning but it continues to grow. It is used to hold up huge buildings. It is used to build great ships which can ride out storms.

It can grow to great heights. It can hold up for hundreds upon hundreds of years. It is hard to cut, and as I have already explained, resisted felling until metal tools were invented. It is because of this strength that the oak has such a prominent place in our British legends.

It is said that King Arthurs table was made from a single piece of enormous oak trunk, and that his sorcerer Merlin had a wand made from the topmost branch of an oak tree. Then of course, there is our much beloved Robin Hood, who took shelter from the Normans in the hollow of the great Major Oak which still stands in Sherwood Forest and is from here where he conducted his meetings with his band of merry men, as protectors of the people.

The oak owes its great strength to its wide-reaching roots, which stretch out way beyond its canopy. And it is these strong root systems that hold it firm in the storms.

So, the Oak is the place to go to when we are looking for some strength and courage in our lives. It reminds us that we are strong and that we can get through this. It reminds us that we do have incredible inner strength and can work with oak to help us access this.

If you like the message oak has and are drawn to work with it, go and seek out an oak tree and sit underneath it. Perhaps go on a shamanic journey to ask for its help in building up your own inner strength to take the steps you need to improve your self-worth. Keep a piece of oak with you when you need strength.

I have carried oak with me for strength in some of the most challenging of situations. I divert my attention to it, and it helps me feel strong in myself and more powerful. We have more ideas about working with the energy of oak in our Working with Tree Spirit Medicine, which is available to premium members of The Mystery School here.

Activity 3: Draw on the Beltane energies of abundance and fertility

The third activity is related to working with the Wheel of the Year. At the time I am writing this blog, we are coming up to Beltane, the festival of fertility, creativity and abundance. It is celebrated between the 30th April and the 2nd of May and marks the point when nature is at its most active and the life-force strongest.

Start to think about how you can draw on these energies of fertility, creativity and abundance to help with your self-worth. Think about your intention that you want to set in a ceremony at Beltane.

Over the past year we have been holding free online celebrations at each of the Celtic festivals. Our most recent one was the Spring Equinox. We have also been holding an evening in advance of each talking about the energies and giving ideas on what you can do to make it.

Our next celebration will be on Friday 30th April, on Beltane eve. Pop the date in your diary and come along. Our next Pop-Up talk will be the week before, on Wednesday 21st April. Come along and get ideas on how you can work with the energies of Beltane to achieve your goals. You can register your place via our homepage here.

Small steps

So, there we have it, my musings about how low self-worth can impede on our attempts to create time for those things that we know are good for us: whether it be a spiritual practice, a hobby, having time out with our friends, seeking out experiences that bring us joy.

From my experience, working on the feeling I am enough is my spiritual work. It’s a long job but each year I chip away a little more. When I look back, I can see how far I have come. So, my final piece of advice is just to take small steps, and keep on revisiting this. Working with the Wheel of the Year is great for this, as nature repeats the cycle every year, and you can too alongside the natural rhythms of the Earth. Remember to tune in with your spirit guides and draw on Shrew, Bat, Puffin, and Oak's energy along the way.

This completes my Time Series Trilogy. If you have enjoyed this blog and haven’t read the others yet, here are the links: Finding Time for a Spiritual Practice and Know Thyself.

My next set of blogs will be about my explorations into ancestral healing. This will be in preparation for my book's launch later this summer: Path to Forgotten Freedom – Healing Unresolved Ancestral Patterns. I can’t wait! It has been a long time coming, and I am so very excited to be sharing this story. So, more about that soon!

I hope you enjoyed my blog, and I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Thank you.

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About the Author


Nicola Smalley is an edge-dweller, shamanic practitioner and writer living in Anglezarke on the edge of the West Pennine Moors in Lancashire, England.
Following a career in corporate sustainability, she now runs The Way of the Buzzard with her husband Jason. Her passion is anything connected to nature and the mysteries of the Earth.

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  1. Brilliant blog as usual, Nicola. Can resonate with a great deal of what you have written. I certainly came to the conclusion some years’ ago that lack of self worth is responsible for a lot of the ills of this world. I often think back to what I was taught in Sunday school many years’ ago, that JOY comes from putting Jesus first, Others next and Yourself last. However, Jesus also said to “we should love others like yourself” which seems to imply a much more equal relationship.

    1. Thank you for your note here Jill. Jason shred his thoughts about this that are exactly in line with yours: that Jesus said above all else, love your neighbour as you would yourself’, which is as you say equal. So pleased you enjoyed my blog, thank you

  2. Thank you Nicola. I really resonate with a lot of this. I am still waiting to find my true spiritual path after decades of exploration. Shamanism speaks to me but I don't understand enough about it and there is an element of not wishing to appear ignorant. Perhaps I just need to overcome my fears and dive in!

    1. Thank you for your note here Trish. I can relate to your concern here. I wonder if there is a spirit guide who can help you with this worry? I also wonder where it stems from… whether you have had experiences in the past that has rocked you from ‘appearing ignorant’. Maybe work with Puffin energy to dive in! They are excellent divers 🙂

  3. I really enjoyed reading this blog Nicola, thank you so much for sharing your story. As well as a lot of interesting information, which I always soak up, you have given me a lot to think about and ponder on. I am going to see if I can find myself an oak tree to sit with and have a good listen! I saw puffins last year for the first time and it was as magical as I hoped it would be, I have seen bats too, but only a couple of times, and not close up. The shrew as an animal is completely new to me, the only term I've heard is someone being called a shrew, as in an old woman to be afraid of! I'm looking forward to your book on ancestral healing, and of course any more blogs you write. See you at the next popup workshop. Rosie x

  4. Thank you for such brave sharing and believe me you are not alone. I have been there and I see the same pattern in my daughters-in -law and in one of my granddaughters. Hope they will all journey out of it ! Thank you for your insights ! look forward to pop up and Beltane ceremony.

    1. Ah, thank you Barbara, this is really good to hear you enjoyed my blog and can relate to it. I too can see this in the younger generation and I hope that that find their way out of it before they burn out. Looking forward to sharing our Beltane gatherings with you 🙂

  5. Dear Nicola what a wonderful soul searching piece you have shared with us , as your dedication to to our learning and participation in our own self discovery and that of our precious creation that surrounds us. I am older than you , and have trained and practised counselling , clinical aromatherapy and Spiritual Healing and mentoring .Your words and honesty touched my heart , embracing your sincerity and natures knowledge and of course all its displays of Spiritual guidance .. Its so illuminating that after the trials and disappiontments you experienced , you were guided no doubt , by your deeper understanding of your true self . Your gift is glowing . Thank you for sharing , with much Love Susan Loftus x

  6. Thank you for sharing your journey Nicola I was moved by your experiences with reminded me of how willing our guides are to help if only we ask and maintain the connection.

  7. Thankyou Nicola, this was really reaffirming. I had a similar start with my journey and a special moment with a heron changed everything for me. Currently I'm seeing a lot of bats, and you've helped join some dots for me as to why, and reminded me to journey with them instead of just appreciating them and doing something else to keep me busy! Thankyou, much appreciated ?

    1. Hello Merv, that is great to hear you found my blog affirming. Thank you for your note. I love how you have been seeing bats and now have the idea to journey to them.

  8. Hi Nicola. Just before Small Steps you mention Wed 21st May when I think it should be April.
    I feel it's so helpful to realise that others have doubts and struggles too. Different ones to each other. This serves to remind me to try to be more patient and kind, to pause before reacting and to try to be more compassionate. I think I am quite confident in many ways and have learnt to appreciate myself over the 12 years since getting divorced. This is my main goal to learn to relax and be more confident around men. I have no faith in my ability to recognise a good choice of partner having made two very poor choices in the past. I would like to move forward with this as I now feel I may be ready to finally find a suitable new friend/partner. Any thoughts on first steps? I have very clear,vivid journeys. Who or what could I journey to and with what intention? Thanks for reading ?

    1. Hi Janet, firstly thanks for the note about the May typo. I have changed that!

      It is good to see you have identified specifically what you want to work with. This is often the hardest step – nailing it down. As for journey ideas, I would do an initial connection journey to a guide who can help you. It might be a Lower or Upperworld journey, so I would leave it open when you are standing at your axis mundi (which we use in our guided journeys as an oak tree).

      When you meet them, ask for their advice on the next step you need to take. So, your intention for your first journey could be ‘journey to meet a spirit guide who can help me in my quest to find the right partner for me’. Then, you could do a second journey with the intention ‘show me the first step I need to take to finding the right partner’. Not wanting to pre-empt what you find too much, I will say that I wouldn’t be surprised if you get shown something which leads you to uncovering a deeper wound that needed healing. You probably already know this, but unless we address the root cause we will keep on attracting the same kind of person in our life. Well that is my view and experience anyway. your spirit guide may well show you something that needs healing, or at least set you on a curse of discovery to uncover what needs healing.

      I am just musing here, so please discard anything which doesn’t land. What I will say is that no matter how unrelated the first step might seem that you are shown, follow it anyway. Our conscious minds often can’t figure it all out until much further down the line.

      I hope that helps?

      1. Thanks Nicola. I will do the suggested journeys. I agree that something within me needs to be sorted first so as to connect with a different sort of person. Thanks. I just knew you would come up with an idea that makes sense ?

        1. Oh, that is great to hear Janet! I would certainly build up a relationship with the guide who presents themselves to you and keep on meeting with them. with big stuff like this it can often take a while to turn the ship, so to speak, so putting time into developing an ongoing relationship will pay back in dividends (from my experience).

  9. Thankyou so much I have been on and off my spiritual path for years and keep allowing everyday life to get in the, busy job etc. But nature has always helped me and been my healer,and finally at age 62 I am putting myself first.

    1. Thanks for your note here Lorna. How interesting to read this, and hear of your challenges and how you have overcome them. I am kind of bowled over! Such synchronicity too with the themes between our writings.

  10. Oh my god everything you have said in this Blog, applies to my life more or less. I was a skinny shy introverted child, hated school, couldn’t wait to get home get into the countryside. It seemed to recharge my batteries. It was my saving grace and kept me going. My dad an Alcoholic beat me almost on a weekly basis, in front of my mum. Until after learning some Martial art skills, retaliated at 16, and beat him up saying never lay a finger on me again. I actually almost died with a fractured skull getting out of my cot and falling down concrete stairs, my long haired Alsatian saving me catching me halfway down , cradling me and barking to wake my mother up as it was during that night. I had a fractured skull clot of blood on my brain. Rushed to hospital emergency operation parents told I was going to be very lucky to live and if I did would be severely disabled mentally and physically. But here I am at 61 years of age on my spiritual journey. Your blog has been a saving revelation for me I believe guided to this page. I am 6’2” tattooed biker built like a brick shithouse as they say. All a front to say don’t mess with me, stay away from me unless friendly. My daughter says am just a Big Teddy Bear. Anyway enough of my ranting. Thanks for your Blog I could relate to almost all of it.

    1. What a story Arthur. Your words here have really touched me. What a tough childhood, and incredible that you are where you are now. Amazing. I am so delighted my blog is relatable to you, thank you so much for sharing 🙂

  11. Another great blog post sharing your wisdom. Thank you Nicola, and for your dedication with this blog series too.

    Beautiful to read of the special moments when eagle came to see you (and later Jason) on the retreat. What a clear message.

    Reading this blog post has made me see a connection between a few things that’ve happened of late that didn’t strike me as a lesson, until now!

    1. Amazing to hear Dee, I am so pleased you found the blog helpful and that it revealed an insight. Just great 🙂 and thank you for your thanks !

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