Kelly Morris is a Shaman /// Apparently the World Really Did End in 2012

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Someone tipped me off to this @kellymorrisyoga Twitter page the other day, but I had to check it out for myself. Apparently, it is true…. Kelly Morris is an official self-proclaimed “shaman.”

Now, I know Kelly has been throwing around the S-word for some time now, but I had no idea that she self-identified as an S-word. I mean, why isn’t this like front page news? It’s not like everyone and their mother becomes a real living shaman. And, I’m pretty sure most shamans are deemed such by their peers (and not the other way around), so this news of Kelly’s new tag is probably huge, right? Like, for real. There is an actual yoga teacher, living in NYC, who doubles as a shaman. This is fantastic frickin’ news! You actually can not make this shit up!

Nevertheless, I have got to know: How long was that shamanic apprenticeship? I mean, I’m sure Kelly didn’t just attend a few Q’ero workshops, apprentice with a Westerner, and drink a couple cups of ayahuasca, and call it a day, right? ‘Cause, like, that’d be ridiculous. And, if that were the case, she’d be the literal laughing stock of the entire yoga community, right? Like, if Kelly actually spent no real time among native shamanic peoples, had not spent any significant time (like half a lifetime) within a society that had a functioning intact shamanic culture, than we would ALL write her off publicly as a complete fraud, yes?

It’s not like this section of a public Google Groups email that was passed around in July of 2012 sounds weird or anything….

Sent: Thu, July 19, 2012 10:24:09 PM
Subject: **important news** from Kelly..

Dear Ones!

As many of you know who have kept in touch with me the CLY Program
is adding in a wonderful new component, that of shamanism

I am apprenticing with a master shaman, Liz Seidel, who will be coming
in August 11-12 to teach for a whole weekend!!! [emphasis added]

Obviously it makes total sense that an entire culture of sacred knowledge, like shamanism, could be simply “added” as a “component” to an already existing Teacher Training Program such as Morris’ Conquering Lion TT, right? That’s not, like, salad bar spirituality, is it?

Not to be all “cultural appropriation” on the scene, but is this just more plastic shamanism?

____________________

PS: I should also say that I have had many many many conversations on the matter of pale faces appropriating spiritualities not indigenous to their own culture. This is a very complex and sensitive issue. More to come.

31 comments

  1. Wow thanks for bringing this to light. That video is equal parts absurd, sad and revealing of the deluded state of understanding across not just yoga but seemingly all ancient traditions and modes of spirituality. Veiled eyes cannot but blur truth, confusing the seer and the seeker. Perhaps our focus should first be on recognizing and lifting the veil and not what’s beyond it. We ain’t ready fo that big world!

    Erasmus, take it away “In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king”

  2. gross

    wow. that woman is just a joke. zero self-awareness. one might say, “a hot mess”.

  3. Yoga Whelp

    “Please don’t squeeze the shaman”

    http://www.charmin.com/ check out the goofy mascot; it’s a conquering….something….

    Yes, soft, white tissue — and an aid to good toiletry.

  4. Dyspeptic Skeptic

    Shaman, dubious. Sham, definitely.

  5. What would be a “literal laughing stock”? Can I buy one on the NYSE? And what’s with all the “likes” in this post? I cannot tell if you are trying to impersonate the voice of someone who would read that KM is a shaman and get excited about it and sign up for her TT (visions of yoga mala bead wearing, namasta-ing, self-proclaimed yoginis come to mind), or if you have gone insane.

    • All great questions, knitting.

      A “literal laughing stock” is a sty or pen containing nothing but guffaws and “barbaric yawps” of a purely literary nature. They are rare, but not totally unheard of.

      The “likes” are simply the affects of one of the tongues on this site. Language is made up of many crutches. And this is one of them.

  6. Someone needs to report her to Al Carroll (you know, the Apache Native American with the Ph.D), the moderater over at the “New Age Frauds and Plastic Shamans” forum under “Frauds”. (www.newagefrauds.org)

    • Hey, EER. I don’t like the idea of “reporting” people to other people. I prefer to keep the discussion out in the open, as I distrust “cultural misappropriation police” almost as much as I distrust cultural misappropriation.

      • I see your point Babs, websites like NAFPS can be construed as cultural misappropriation police but they can also serve to keep the public informed and in the case of some “shamans”, help consumers make informed choices before they hand over their cash.

        • I totally hear you, EER. It really does kinda fit with our “consumer advocacy” position. I’m just very sensitive about some of the tar-and-feathering that goes on in retaliation. Which, I know for some people, must come across as totally hypocritical on my end. But, I think there’s a difference. Not sure my mother would, but….

        • I understand about the tar and feathering thing, I’m against that as well since that kind of stuff can escalate very easily and get very ugly too. And usually unnecessarily. I can’t speak for all of these types of sites and resources but I know at NAFPS, things are usually posted under “Research Needed” first. Many Indigenous groups the world over now are very, very well-connected to each other, Elders are speaking to one another, attending ceremonies together etc. so it’s quite easy to verify if so-and-so was indeed “adopted” by this tribe or that or “received teachings” from this Elder or that. It’s only when things have been verified to be fraudulent, that it goes under “Frauds”.
          If people want to spend their money on pricey teachings, seminars and retreats, authentic or not, that’s their business. I guess what I’m trying to say is that there are people as well who want the genuine and the authentic and they need to have resources as well.

        • Just rechecked it out. I see what you were pointing out in the forums. What I’d like to see is the specific claims being refuted. The claims to lineage. THAT to me is where the action is. “Appropriations” of ideas and takes on nature and stuff are hard to pin down and end up in a circle. It’s kinda like that “How to talk to a racist” video you posted a few days back. We gotta keep the discourse in the realm of what can be shown-and-proven (to “borrow” from The Five Percenters/Nation of Gods & Earths).

  7. Greenpoint

    “Dear Ones!”…??? who addresses people like that? just red flags all over the place with km…

    • gross

      that is about as bad as referring to people as “hearts”. ewe. i just puked a little in my mouth. also on the same level as referring to your paying students as “family”. “are you feelin it family, im feelin it family.. big inhales…. ” barf.

  8. Yoga Whelp

    I do think it should be kept in mind — with all the “Beat Up on Whitey” talk that is fashionable on this site — that nearly all of these cultural “appropriations” require deliberate sales and marketing by the “indigenous” of their own “wares.” It’s part rape – and part prostitution. Let’s call it, “consensual rape.” The history of “Western” yoga is the same.

    Check out all the web sites for shamanic journeys to Peru and elsewhere. The World Shamanic Yoga Institute or Spirit Medicine Shamanic Journeys, among many many others. Local “authentic” shamans are almost always your “guide.”

    Here’s one testimonial — http://spiritmedicine.net/Testimonials.html.

    “Journeying with the Medicine is in itself an indescribable experience, but to journey with the Medicine in the Amazonian jungle of Peru is to go straight to the heart of the experience, where the energy vortices of that ancient land invite and support the supplicant to surrender to Pachamama unreservedly. The result is nothing less than Transformation, a reconfiguring of each of the trillions of cells of the body, an opening of the consciousness to realms and dimensions that are truly unimaginable, but intensely Real. Wrap it all up in a package, and take the Spirit Medicine tour, guided by Diego, a Peruvian shaman of unsurpassable skill and heart, assisted by Leif the Irrepressible, and you have a hero’s journey into the Unknown, the Inexpressible, the Mystery, that will leave you touched to the soul and changed for life. There are no obstacles but your own mind. Set it on the Path and Go.”

    In the land of commodified and corporatized spirituality, it’s often most useful to have brown mascots vouch for the authenticity and integrity of the white mascots. Which kind of makes you wonder: Who’s actually lower on the proverbial totem pole here?

    Tara Stiles — or Deepak Chopra?

    • It’s not really a “beat up on whitey thing.” Much of what get touted as “authentic” teachings by “elders” are in fact not. You can look around online and find a few sources as to who these “representatives” of the indigenous culture are. Many were never heard of to begin with even within the culture. Which is all to say, that you can’t really prostitute, as you put it, what you didn’t have to give in the first place.

      I know you like to try and play the “We all do it” card around here, but when social inequality is involved that whole second-wave feminisim/the-oppressed-are-just-as-guilty trope only goes so far. There’s truth in it, to be sure, but it’s a very small part of the bigger picture.

      • Yoga Whelp

        I love how you just declare final intellectual judgment like some soapbox Marxist. You really should have been on the front lines at the recent Yoga Journal protest?

        No, I really do disagree. “Conquest”: depends on the seduction of the “oppressed” and the strategic support received by its leaders and key symbolic figures. Cortes, with just 200 men, and no escape, could never have taken the Aztecs without Malinche. No one stole the slaves from Africa. Proud African Kings sold them.. Yoga people are willing slaves to Stay Puft.

        So I think the trope is yours. It’s part of having a economic class/market perspective but then falling back into the comfort of “identity politics.” I am more of a “Gramscian” in this respect. Rule by naked domination is weak. It’s “hegemony” — and the enforced consent — that endures.

        • Haha. Yre giving me a lot more credit there with all those pretty words yre throwing around. Although, I like it more when you’re calling women “bitches” and “sluts.” You’re easier to believe.

    • Yoga Whelp

      Well, the fact that you couldn’t just leave my original comment alone — and had to do your own thought police thing — says far more about you than it does about me. Here’s a useful suggestion: let the conversation breathe like good yoga — especially the comments you and your incredibly immature editorial team can’t seem to handle.

      And do something on Russell Simmons and Deepak Chopra that’s real. No, they don’t get a pass because of the color of their skin.

      As for bitches and sluts, no one goes after the white girls of yoga like you guys do. We just comment, but it’s been your dedicated line of attack from the jump. More intellectual, honesty would certainly help here.

      Cheers

      • Hehe. “Thought police.” I believe there is medication for these visions.

        Man, you really are one of the most fascinating subjects! Now,if yre done, it’s time we put you back in the maze with cheese and electrodes.

        As for talking about Deepak…. We’re punks, for goodness sake! We’re not gonna sit around wasting breath on McDonald’s. We have smaller fish to fry. We let the HuffPo peeps do contribute to the hot air and rising sea levels.

        Oh, and Russell is obviously untouchable! What with all the Run DMC and Beastie records under his belt. Some people, get a free pass.

    • Garuda

      As a boy, we set out on a family vacation. A typical American holiday ‘Authentic’ one might say. My Mother (recently widowed) and her 5 boys, all piled into a VW Squareback. Thinking back, it might have looked like a clown car or maybe it looked like a concentration camp train, but I digress. As we ponder what ‘authentic’ is I was reminded of the roadside stands in AZ. You know the ones. They sell Authentic Indian blankets, Jewelry, Pottery and the like. I was 7. I was innocent of the hell my Mother must have been going through or maybe it was naive, I dont know. But I was convinced that the pottery, blankets, jewelry and Authenticity was legit. I never heard of Kelly Morris before this post so I dont really care if she sells blankets that the Mahatma Gandhi himself slept on. Oh wait, thats a different kind of Indian isnt it? Dots, not feathers.
      I think the Whelp, if that is your real name ,makes some good points about it though. When you buy a movie ticket, you agree to suspend reality for a time. If you spend 15 bucks on popcorn so your visit feels more ‘Auhtentic’ well, Good For You. But you did it of your own choosing.
      As My Shaman would say
      Gungha Gah Dungha

      • I totally agree with this, garuda. That is in part why we try and keep the “person” out of it. I personally have no problem with much of what we talk about on here. My main interest is brining it out into the open so “buying the movie ticket” becomes a choice. Playing among the commodities can also be fun and informative. Like Jesus, everyone is invited to dinner!

  9. I can’t believe this is a surprise, is there anything Kelly Morris hasn’t laid claim to? This is the woman who had her picture taken spread eagling the Dalai Lama Photo. What if a man did that to Anandamayi Ma?

  10. Itstrue

    Kelly Morris is one of the most unchecked personalities. Calling herself a shaman with no reference to the time she has put in studying, being initiated, the arrogance of this woman is profound. Her teachings are also so unrippened, just pop theories she found on Wikipedia. I have listened to her talks and find them to be quite shallow and without much real depth or understanding of subtlety. So now she had kicked out her old teachers who she bowed to and is proclaiming self shamanism. It’s so embarrassing!

  11. Nicky

    I typically use the exclamation of “What is this white shamanism??” To denote extreme incredulity. Thanks for verifying that this is indeed a phenomenon worth mocking.

  12. Garuda

    I did my Visionquest when my cell battery died. I was across town and out of gas. Unfortunately I left my wallet at home. I tripped over a homeless shamanee guy who told me…Gunga Gah Dungha…then he named me Maha Garuda. Who the hell is Kelly Morris, and moreover, why does anyone care?

  13. Padma Kadag

    During the period which ended in the 1970’s Native healers who were actually trained very close to the original methods were passing away rapidly. None of them, at least the very few I knew, knew what “shaman” is. This discussion is very interesting for me because of the use of the idea of culture and “find your own cutural medicine ways”, etc. This argument is very clear culturally speaking but inaccurate in regard to Nature. My experience has shown me that those healers of the past never referred to “our’ land and “our” religion because it is/was not property nor cultural property. Every medicine and every method was directly from that small geographical place they lived and upheld the world for the benefit of the universe. The medicine as a matter of fact was only viable within the geographical boundries which have always been understood….so doing a Sun Dance on the coast in California doesnt cut it…in fact it would have a negative effect in Nature,for example. It was understood that if non natives, living in “Indian Country” were becoming ill due to mistreating nature,( isn’t this what shaman’s are allegedly healing?), then the opposite is true…that same nature which has natural laws that can be “violated” and cause disease for both natives and non natives can also heal as it was intended. We can say the Yurok on the Klamath River have a culture but the original medicine people would not have understood that seperation from nature. All of their instructions came from the nature of the place…not culture…so it is possible that those local spirits which make up a place if approached not without great effort and selflessness could show themselves to that individual for the betterment of the world….but this would be next to impossible these days as foretold in many native prophecies.
    In your video, many of the spokes persons for the natives do not understand this

  14. Padma Kadag

    To clarify…if we embrace native natural law…then if mistreating nature can cause disease for all skin colors then the opposite is true for all skin colors…that all skin colors with proper training and disciplne can work with nature to heal. But this is next to impossible if we talking about the methods which have been used by old time healers who are dead and gone.

  15. CJ Potts

    Comparatively speaking of “skin colors”, what’s with alllllllll the makeup that this “shaman” wears?
    That’s a lot of shellac. What happens when she sweats, or don’t ‘shamans” sweat?
    Evidently “shamans” get bleach highlights (and lowlights!), and have plastic surgery procedures.
    I don’t know anymore…what happened to maintaining the integrity of yoga?
    Who (and when) initiated the deviation from the essence of yoga?
    Why fix what ain’t broken?

  16. CJ Potts

    PS- Maybe she meant to write “shamist”, not “shaman”, for her bio…?

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