Mary & Creative Exploration

I worked for more than three decades as an international journalist (writer, editor, photographer and broadcaster) for radio, TV, newspapers, magazines and the Web.  I have written about and photographed more than 60 countries and lived, worked and studied in Israel, Egypt, Sudan, the U.S., Canada, France, Australia, Japan, China, India and Thailand. I continue to travel widely.

I’m the author of a book on Japan, a country that inspired me so much during the 17 years I lived there that, in 2001, I embarked on a 7,500-kilometre walk through the nation for charity.

This walking adventure gave me the opportunity to deeply explore the myths, legends and shamanic traditions of Japan. I also used the walk to raise funds and goods for a Tokyo-based charity.

For a long time I’ve been interested in consciousness studies, spirituality, Shamanism and healing. Since my teens I’ve been fascinated by Paganism, Wicca, the Occult, White Magick, Tarot, Nature worship, as well as had an interest in the practice of meditation, Buddhism and other world religions.

In the early 1980s, I studied Kabbalah and Jewish mysticism while living among Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem. Later on, in Cairo, Khartoum and Konya I participated in Sufi ceremonies. During travels in the mid-1980s through sub-Sahara Africa, I lived in a banana-leaf hut with the Beni Pygmies in what was then Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) and enjoyed some of their dances and rituals. I even went hunting with them, but proved to be too heavy-footed for the liking of the Pygmy huntsmen. No creatures were killed the days I went out with the hunters in the forests so afterwards they asked me to join the women when they went foraging for edible plants and berries.

While working in PR and media in Tokyo in the 1990s, I  qualified as a Reiki practitioner, dabbled with Jungian art therapy and psychology, as well as trained in Aikido, Tai Chi, counselling and Noh theatre. In 2003, I underwent rigorous Zen training in a Rinzai Buddhist monastery in the Japanese countryside. In Japan, I also developed an interest in Shintoism, Japanese mythology and shamanism, as well as Yamabushi (mountain ascetic) practices.

During my 15 month-long walk through Japan, I communed with blind itako (shamanesses) on the sacred mountain Osorezan, as well as walked on hot coals at a Yamabushi Shingon Buddhist fire-walking festival on the island of Shikoku. If you’re interested, Japan on Foot, the book about my walking adventure is available from Fineline Press, New Zealand, or you can order the ebook on Amazon. The ebook recently hit the No. 1 spot for the Travel and Asia genre on Amazon.

BUDDHA WITH BIB copy

Japan on Foot is also an emotional journey, revealing some of my difficulties with the lifelong issue of adoption, the joy and pain of being reunited with my birth mother and half-siblings, my 10-year relationship with a Japanese woman, as well as my struggle with alcoholism.

I’ve been sober since late 2004 and am hugely grateful to AA. I only wish that in my days of drinking I had heard of medicines like Ayahuasca and Iboga. So many people have been released from the stranglehold of addiction after working with Shamanic Plants. But life often puts us on the right path exactly when we’re ready for it. My walk through Japan led me to eventually going to AA in Tokyo, making new friends, developing new interests as well as building on old ones.

In 2005 I became interested in robots, artificial intelligence and the Singularity. I’m particularly fascinated by the prospect of intelligent machines and the future possibility of humans living alongside “synthetic humans” too. I’ve also been quite intrigued by how the cultural religious background of a roboticist, whether s/he is conscious of it or not, will often determine how they design and perceive the benefits of artificial intelligence in our lives. During MA studies in New Media & Creative Writing I opted to pursue a research project on just this theme and produced my research online. This 2006 research led to me being invited to write further books on spirituality and artificial intelligence, as well as being asked to give a presentation on the subject at an academic conference for roboticists in Rome.

In 2009, I moved to Beijing, China to work in radio. During my two years there, I studied Qi Gong and Chinese Traditional Medicine. In 2010 I became a certified Neuro-Linguistic Programmer after completing an intensive course with Richard Bandler, one of the co-founders of NLP. From 2011, I travelled the world, concentrating on my own spiritual development and healing practices. Just over a year was spent in Varanasi, India, further refining my yogic practices on the banks of the Ganges River. There, I focused on Hatha Yoga and studied Ayurvedic Medicine. I also practiced daily Karma Yoga with one of the sadhus (holy men) there — helping to dish out food in the evenings to poor children down on the ghats.  While in Chiang Mai, Thailand, I spent one month studying Thai Massage. I’m now qualified to give both full body and foot massage treatments.

Afterwards, I ventured on to Peru to participate in several long retreats and ceremonies with Ayahuasca and San Pedro, having first experienced the medicine in Holland at a Santo Daime Church. On return to Europe, I made my way back to Holland to work yet again with Ayahuasca, as well as to journey and receive further insights with other entheogens, including Ibogaine, Peyote, Psilocybin and 5-MeO-DMT. Since then I have worked with Kambo, Sananga, Rapé, Cacao and others. Some of these indigenous medicines I now offer during my Circles/Vision Quests and private sessions.

More recently, I’ve lived with Therevadan Bhikkuni nuns in San Francisco and spent more than two years training as a samana (shaman) in a Thai Forest Tradition Buddhist monastery. But my experiences with Ayahuasca and other entheogens have had a profound affect on me. And so, having seen that organized religion is limited by its dogma and prejudices towards Plant Medicines, the time came for me to disrobe and leave the monastery to follow the path of Shamanic Sacraments. Ayamorphosis has been launched to offer the Sacraments in safe environments with experienced guides. You can experience full dosages or micro-dosages of the Medicines. From September we plan to also offer Kambo (Sapo) and then, hopefully, with the blessings of the Bwiti Priest who is overseeing our work, we will offer Iboga/Ibogaine in 2018.

The Medicines continue to visit me in dreams,  asking me to share their beauty, love, magic and healing. I also utilize my yogic, meditative and healing practices when working in ceremony. So now, with the continued guidance of my shamanic teachers I welcome you to the Circles/Vision Quests and/or the opportunity for personal/private group ceremonies with these wonderful teachers of Mother Earth.

Creative Exploration

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Mary is a published author, professional journalist and broadcaster who specialized as a Travel Writer & Travel Photographer for many years. She is the former Travel Page Editor of the Asahi Evening News & International Herald Tribune. She has written about and photographed almost 80 countries and has worked closely with publishing agents, magazine/newspaper/Web editors, writers and photographers around the world.

Beyond this, she has written and edited scripts for TV and radio, and has played an active role in various theatre productions. She is an ex-Butoh dancer and a former member of the now defunct Hysterick Theatre in Tokyo, Japan.

Mary now offers weekend and six-day Writing Circles for writers working on fiction and non-fiction books and stories. Budding travel writers and travel photographers may be interested in her weekend or six-day Travel Writing & Travel Photography Circles. Those who complete the six-day Travel Writing & Travel Photography Circle then qualify to join Mary on a Travel Assignment Workshop in Europe, Africa, Asia, North and/or South America.

We’ll soon be announcing our weekend and six-day Writing Circles and Travel Writing & Travel Photography Circles in Europe.  Keep your eyes on the Ayamorphosis site for dates or contact us if you wish to know more.

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