How Kate Fisher found herself at the brink of death, having to choose between this world and another. Plus one of the best foods to feel grounded, to help you keep a level head and even make better decisions!
OK enough hints from me, I’m sure you have no idea what that food is…or maybe you do, so let’s get on with the story.
Our guest, Kate Fisher
I am super excited to be joined here today for our story by Kate Fisher. Kate is a shamanic practitioner who specialises in helping others to connect with the power that is already within them. She is also an artist, and she works with drums, paint and clay to create shamanic tools, paintings and ceramics. And she works with people not only face to face, but also at a distance which I think is very cool. She has a pretty incredible story to share which I think you’re going to love!
So Kate, welcome to the Clean Food, Dirty Stories podcast!
Kate: Thanks Barbara.
Me: Yeah, it’s great to have you. I’m looking forward to sharing your story.
Me: So you work in Norfolk, you live in Kent, but do you have a lot of trees surrounding you now? Because I know that you spent a lot of your childhood in trees, is that what you told me? Is that where your story begins?
Kate: Yeah, it kind of is, I was much more into sitting in trees and hanging out there and not really with the other kids. It just felt calming and I later found out that what was actually happening was that I was speaking with the tree deities and the tree spirits themselves.
Imaginary friends…with a difference
Me: So like when most kids had imaginary friends, like little playmates and stuff, then you just had your playmates that were like in the trees and nature spirits and everything.
That’s really cool, when I was little actually, I didn’t play with the other kids either. I was with them but I was a tiger roaring and crawling on the floor. So there were no nature spirits for me, just a bunch of crawling around.
On to herbalism
At one point you studied herbalism, is that right? How did you come to study that?
Kate: Well, I began studying it. After doing my art degree, I actually got a job in Neal’s Yard Remedies in Norwich. And so that just kind of brought me back to plants and their uses. The medicinal uses were the sort of thing I was drawn to. I was going to move to Australia to do the whole course of naturopathy.
There was something still missing from that for me. So from that I actually found magical herbalism.
Kate: Yeah, so that’s kind of like hedge witchcraft. It’s understanding that everything has an energy and you can use that energy to help heal and help rebalance.
Me: I know about wild plants, you know, and collecting wild plants and just eating them because they taste really good, and I know that nettles for example are really good for arthritis, just little things that you kind of pick up. But that’s kind of all I know. So is it like making teas for people and poultices and things like that out of plants and stuff?
Kate: No, no, it’s purely energetic, so it’s basically like spellcasting.
Magic herbalism, then on to the Philippines
Kate: So you would use certain herbs and plants that have certain attributes and they often correspond with the medicinal uses as well. And you’d kind of enchant them and then you’d make them into little sachets to hand to people and once they’d got their use from it, they would bury it. It was always just for an energetic purpose.
Me: Oh OK.
Kate: It’s like the old wives’ tale of putting certain things above the door so things can’t come in.
Me: I get it. OK. So you were doing herbalism but then I think you stopped, is that right, and you moved to the Philippines? Is that right?
Kate: Yeah, that’s right. So magical herbalism still wasn’t doing it for me and I still felt there was something more. And I came across a book and it was called Chance Spirit Shamanism, and this just sent me off! I knew that I had to do something with this because it would take me deeper into that plant realm. The way I actually got to the Philippines was through my ceramics, with a job as a teacher over there.
The House of Happiness
Me: How did you get that job? That’s really cool.
Kate: A Filipino lady, her family ran the college there and she approached me and asked if I would teach there.
Kate: Unfortunately it was in Manila and for me that was just too busy. It’s a really built city with really rich and really poor areas. I found this place called Bahay Kalipay which means the House of Happiness. So I went there, I volunteered and from there I taught this process called The Inner Dance, and this was precisely when my Saturn return hit. I had just turned 28 and I decided to drop everything, I sold everything that I owned in England basically, and I decided to move to the Philippines.
Kate’s Saturn return
Me: Wow. So can you just…sorry, can you explain to people, some people that may not know, what is a Saturn return and why does it just – cause I’ve experienced one too – what is a Saturn return and why does it turn your life upside down?
Kate: Yeah, well, OK. The Saturn return is…Saturn’s in a certain place in the night sky and what happens is when that then comes around which obviously it takes 28 to 30 years to come round in your astrological chart, that changes everything. You’re then kind of pushed or encouraged onto a path that you should have been taking that you may have been diverted from. Some people’s is really turbulent, other people it can be quite free flowing depending on what their life path life has taken.
And then this happens again normally in women’s time, it’s normally around the menopause.
Me: Well it would be like 28 years later, right?
Kate: Exactly, yeah, it’s on that time scale. So it really can turn your life upside down because Saturn’s known as the teacher. If you haven’t learned your lessons, you’re gonna learn them!
Why the Philippines
Me: Yup! I’ve experienced that so I know exactly what you mean. Yeah, so it can be quite big life changes and stuff, right? What made you decide to move to the Philippines?
Kate: Well, in all honesty a man.
Me: (laughs) As so often happens…
Kate: And he worked at the retreat center that I went to. Yeah, I kind of knew that it wasn’t gonna work out but I’m always this kind of romantic person, I’m just gonna follow my heart…I loved it there anyway because it was just so beautiful and I felt so held there, just on the land.
Me: Yeah. So you moved to the Philippines, so if you moved because of him, did you stay with him and then, like, what happened?
Releasing inner blocks
Kate: Well, I think I moved in with him to begin with, him and his family. And then I went back to work at the retreat center for meditation and the inner dance which is kind of meditative. It allows the flow of energy and any blockages to come out, it can be quite cathartic and transformative in itself. So I went back there and lived there, and I did that for 8 months. I was looking for land to buy as well.
Me: So you were gonna buy land in the Philippines? That’s very cool. You said at one point that you had a kind of like dark night of the soul, was that related to the guy? Or…
Kate: It was all, you know, a whole lump of stuff rolled in together (laughs). That’s what happens, isn’t it?
Me: All at the same time, of course, yeah.
Crying in paradise
Kate: All at the same time. So yeah, for me, I was in paradise but I was crying my eyes out every day.
Kate: Yeah, and it was just this kind of ultimate depression, but this was something different, it was a transformative kind of time. And I ended up not really seeing the point in life, so I went from, you know, being on a real high and feeling the connection between all things and all of this and then just fell apart and thought, “Well, if everything is nothing and nothing is everything, then what’s the point?”
Me: Oh, yeah, I’ve felt like that before so I can relate, yeah. Wow.
From the Philippines to Peru
Me: And so from there, how did you…you said that you then went to Peru, right? So how did you go from the Philippines to Peru? Did you just one day up and decide to leave, or was there a specific incident where you thought ‘OK I’ve had enough, I’m going to leave now’? Or…
Kate: Well I, I’d gone to America to visit my friends over there and then while I was there I phoned this person…
Me: Somebody in Peru?
Kate: No, sorry, I phoned my boyfriend at the time. Yeah, and he ended up going “Oh I’ve decided I’m going to be a Peace Pilgrim”.
Me: A Peace Pilgrim? What’s that?
Kate: So it’s someone who walks around without anything, but just goes spreading peace and basically relies on anyone around them to support them. He said “This is my highest excitement”.
So I was like, “OK, fine”. Obviously I was a bit heartbroken because I’d just travelled the other side of the world, but it made me suddenly realize that I wasn’t following my highest excitement. So I thought “OK, what’s happening right now? Where’s the mother of all plant learnings?” And it’s happening in Peru, with Ayahuasca, with Huachuma…
Ayahuasca and Huachuma
Me: What’s huachuma? I mean, I know Ayahuasca and in fact I spoke about that in a previous episode, but what’s huachuma?
Kate: Huachuma is also known as San Pedro. San Pedro was the Catholic name they gave when they kind of came over to the South Americas. Huachuma is the original name for it. It’s a cactus that is mescalin-based, so it’s similar to the peyote which is a mescalin-based medicine.
Me: Oh OK. So it’s a similar kind of experience with…like a journey like you would do as if you were taking Ayahuasca but you’re taking Huachuma?
Kate: It’s similar, yeah. Huachuma’s much more about the earth and less cosmic. Ayahuasca is out there, attaching to everything that is. Huachuma’s about the heart, about connecting back to the earth.
Me: Wow. OK, so you did both of those when you were there?
Kate: Yeah, that’s right, so I spent 6 months being an apprentice to both of those plants.
Me: Oh wow! So now are you able to perform Ayahuasca and Huachuma ceremonies for other people?
Kate: I believe I can hold ceremony for Huachuma for other people. With Ayahuasca I decided that I’m just always going to be her apprentice (laughs). I just don’t see how people hold space for that, it’s such a powerful thing.
Temazcals (sweat lodges)
Me: OK. So you did those, and you also mentioned temazcals, you know, the sweat lodges, what were those like?
Kate: It’s really magical.
So for somebody who doesn’t, who doesn’t know about a temazcal, can you say a little bit about like what it is? Because I’ve done one, but not everybody knows about it, right? Could you say a little bit about like what it is and what happens and why you might want to do a sweat lodge?
Kate: OK. It’s a really sacred ceremony and our ancestors have always used it to cleanse, to rebirth. To go into those sweat lodges is like going back into the mother’s womb. You go in there with thanks, knowing what you want to get rid of or what you want to transition into. And you bless the rocks which are put into a sacred fire.
Me: Sacred fire?
Kate: Yes. They then heat those for several hours and then you will go into the lodge. You normally go through about four, yeah, four rounds. They’ll bring in a certain number of rocks, and then water is poured onto the rocks once the door is closed.
Me: And it gets really, really hot, I remember.
Kate: It does. But it builds, it’s not like going into a sauna. Your body gradually kind of gets used to it until it gets so hot that you’re just like “Oh no I can’t do this!” But quite often, we always say that the heat is your friend. Because that heat is sometimes not physical heat, it’s sometimes you know, coming up against maybe a blockage of the energy of the thing that you’re trying to shift, so if you can, stay in.
The eyebrow of the Peruvian jungle
Me: And so how did you…how did you go from doing the sweat lodges and the Ayahuasca and Huachuma ceremonies to the jungle? Cause you said that you were…I know that you mentioned to me that you were in the jungle with some friends and you had a pretty scary experience there. Can you say a little bit about like how you came to be there, and what happened?
Kate: Yeah, definitely.
I was – I suppose – an assistant to the woman that owned the retreat center. And we’d become really good friends because we obviously worked really closely together. We were offered a piece of land possibly in a part of the jungle called Manu which is known as the eyebrow of the jungle of Peru. So we went to visit.
And our friend who also went with us, he was also an Andean priest. He went and hired a boat and took us to this special island which had quite rare breeds of certain animals, mammals and things. So he takes us over there and we’re just so excited to see a different part and see rare species. Onto the land, you know you just start walking around and admiring things.
I think it was about a third of the way around this island and all of a sudden something hit me.
When the jungle gets angry
Kate: It felt like I’d suddenly started menstruating but it wasn’t that time, it felt like all of my guts were just turning around. I just suddenly went white.
Kate: Literally it just felt like, I don’t know, I could have eaten something that didn’t agree with me, all that kind of stuff. So my friend tried to do an echo cleansing on me. Now all that did – this is the dirty part of the story – was give me diarrhea. It was awful. My body was emptying, everything was too heavy. I was getting rid of everything. It was really quite scary as it progressed.
And then this feeling came over me that the jungle was angry. There was always this element of kind of doubt, skepticism I guess.
Getting lost in another world
But I was about to get lost in another world. The jungle felt like it was pulling me. The world that I knew, that part of the jungle that I was seeing with my physical eyes was disappearing.
Me: Wow! That’s scary!
Kate: Terrifying. And interesting at the same time.
Me: Yeah, kind of like ‘this is really scary but this is really cool!’
Kate: I mean I got really scared up until the point where I thought, ‘OK, maybe I’m going to leave this other world that I know and I’m gonna be taken to another world’. And when I reached that level of acceptance, you know, that strange place of like ‘OK this is just happening’, I told my friends to go on without me. I said, “This is where I stop”. And it was like, it was, I don’t know, it was like I was disappearing.
Kate: Yeah, I…after feeling scared it was suddenly this peace that took over. But then my friends became scared because they realized how real this had become. You know, they couldn’t just leave me in the jungle.
Kate: And the Andean priest, he was suddenly panicking around me. He was saying in Spanish, in Quechua, panicking about “Oh I haven’t done it, I haven’t done it, I haven’t done it!” He was going on about the ritual or the ceremony that we were supposed to do when we arrived at this land.
A hurried ceremony
Kate: And so all of a sudden he’s scrambling in his pockets to get things out and I was just flopped on the ground at this point and I had no idea what was going on around me other than his scrambling. He got out the cocoa leaves and he made like a little fan of these and he started doing ceremony. And he was doing all these different things around me but I didn’t have any awareness to be able to learn or witness or anything, it was like I was being absorbed into the jungle floor.
The next thing I know he’s yanking me up off the ground saying “Stamp on the floor! Stamp on the floor!” Like this. And I was just like “I can’t do it, I can’t even lift my leg,” like I had nothing left, no physical ability whatsoever. But he was so persistent I just went and I just, I just kind of just flopped my foot on this space and I later found out that he’d buried the cocoa leaves there.
And as I touched my foot down, something happened and I felt a little bit stronger. So then he went, “Again!” I stamped again a little bit harder with the strength that I’d found. And he said, “Again!” I stamped my foot even harder, and every time we did this, my energy started coming back and my color started coming back and I felt myself being drawn in, like my energy bodies being drawn back into this physical body. Until we’d done it enough that they felt comfortable with us making our way away from there.
Me: Wow. Yeah, and then you just left at that point? Were you supposed to stay longer?
Kate: I had to lay there while they went off in the boat for a while so I had to lay in the jungle for a bit and stop. Just to kind of recoup and make sure that I’d gathered all the parts of me back together I think.
Me: Yeah, of course, yeah.
Fear as teacher
Kate: And I gave my thanks and you know, and I said, “Sorry for not knowing better”. I should have known better, that’s what I was there to learn, you know. How to respect these places.
Me: Yeah, but you were there to learn. I would have thought the Andean priest would have… I mean, I would have been blaming him! (laughs) Right? Wasn’t he kind of there to, you know, to guide you and look after you? I mean I would have been like, “Dude you forgot something! Look what happened to me!” No?
Kate: Well, I suppose, but I didn’t see things that way at that time. I kind of overtook responsibility if that makes sense. But I gave my thanks to the jungle at that point because that’s when my skepticism left and I really started to trust that Spirit is there to guide. And it really showed me its strength, and the only way it could do that was through fear.
Kate: Yeah, I was really, really grateful to have learned that lesson because without that I wouldn’t be able to practice, you know, the techniques that I do today.
Me: I bet the Andean priest learned a lot too, right? I bet he never did that again! (laughs) Right?
Kate: (laughs) I don’t think so!
Me: Almost killed a tourist, can you imagine? Oh my goodness. Wow!
What Kate does today
So then you said that that experience helped you do the techniques that you do today, so how? Like, how come? What was it about that particular experience and what did you take from there I guess is what I want to ask, that you now use? Yeah, that you use now?
Kate: Well it’s just the level of trust.
Me: Ah, OK. That makes sense.
Kate: When I’m doing the healings or ceremony or anything, I endeavour obviously – I mean sometimes ego gets in the way and makes you feel small. But that’s quite rare these days. I just allow Spirit and the ancestors to guide me.
Me: Yup. Yeah, because you have that trust now thanks to your experience in the jungle. I get it, yeah. Wow!
So then, yeah, what do you do now to help other people? Because I know you do lots of different things, do you want to say a little bit about that?
Kate: Yeah, well the main thing that I endeavour to do, like anyone that I come across I try and support and empower. Even if it’s the smallest thing. And give people that different perspective on themselves. I think we’re so made to feel belittled and that we think that, you know, to think good of ourselves is to be arrogant. But actually we need to come to a space where we can be comfortable and love ourselves without that.
Kate: It’s really hard to explain! I lead retreats and…
Finding The Wild Woman
Me: So what kinds of things do you do at the retreats? For example, do you take people on shamanic journeys as a group?
Kate: So for the retreats, what I focus on at the moment is women. And I do this alongside a lovely lady called Amy who runs SoulShine social enterprise and we, well we call it Finding the Wild Woman. And it’s all about rewilding, so finding that part of you that’s been repressed through, you know, all the things that we should and shouldn’t do and expressing your authentic self.
Me: Oh I like the sound of that, yup!
Kate: So we do all sorts of things.
Me: Wow, that sounds quite fun.
Kate: Yeah, we use all the different elements as well. So you know, we run through kind of water, earth, fire, air, spirit…so people can connect back with those. The very base elements of this world.
Me: Wow, that’s very cool.
Individual help (even at a distance)
Me: So you do those at the retreats, and then I think you said for individual people you help them find balance and things? Like what do you do for individuals? Because I know you also said you do some things at a distance as well.
Kate: Yeah, so whether it’s distance or whether people are there, I’ll connect with them and I’ll allow Spirit and ancestors again to work through me. I use my drum, rattle, feathers, anything. I always ask if the person’s comfortable with it. Yeah, and then I use the vibe to kind of realign, as everything’s made of vibration. The intention is to realign those things, on any level that person wants to work.
Me: OK. So do people normally come to you…yeah I would imagine people would come to you with a really specific problem, right? Can it be any kind of problem? Like, I don’t know, like everything from physical problems like physical ailments to maybe emotional problems or mental problems?
Kate: Yeah, definitely.
Me: So a bit of everything. Super! OK
Kate: The most common tends to be physical or emotional, but actually you find out that they’re all interlinked so you just follow that path until…
Me: Yeah, I know what you mean.
Training for the Celtic sweat lodge
Me: So do you run sweat lodges? Do you use that tool in your work at all?
Kate: I’m not running them yet, I’m gonna do another 2 years learning the Celtic lodge.
Me: So how long does it take then to train to learn the Celtic sweat lodges?
Kate: Well, I’m taking three years to do it.
Me: Three years, OK. Is that your choice to do it over a longer period?
Kate: Yeah, I know that you can learn the practicalities in a couple of weekends, but to have the experience of actually supporting people through that process…
Me: Oh yeah, that’s the biggest bit, yeah.
Kate: It’s a very different ballgame.
My own experience in a sweat lodge
Me: Yeah, of course, cause I know, I mean I know for me that when I did a sweat lodge, yeah it was years ago now. And at the time I was…I was a total mess!
And so when it got really, really hot, I could feel that kind of…how can I describe it? It was kind of like as if there was a well at the bottom of my being that was filled with all these like dark stuff. You know, fears and things like that that never got to come up to the surface, you know? That never got acknowledged.
Just like really primal stuff, you know, almost as if you could tap into your most primal fears because there was no cultural barrier. There was no mental barrier, you know.
You were just so hot that your mind…I mean for me my mind almost just left my body really because it was just so hot. And I thought that was…that was quite an amazing experience.
I mean for me I was like wow! It was scary but it was also really cool and I can imagine that for some people… I mean, I like to think that I’m a pretty strong cookie but I imagine it would be scary for people to come to grips with what they find and to have to kind of, yeah, deal with that. I mean if they uncover something they didn’t know about themselves before, maybe something that’s super scary, then yeah I would imagine you have to have the tools to deal with that, right?
Kate: That’s right, yeah. You’ve got to be able to support people after they’ve kind of gone through the sweat lodge process. Like you say, sometimes people are left with things that they need to kind of then kind of speak through or go into a bit more.
Me: Wow, yeah. But I’d definitely say better out than in, right? All that stuff.
Where to find Kate
Kate thank you so much for coming on to share your story. There’s a friend of mine that also mentioned that when you hold any kind of retreat or workshop or any kind of event in nature, she said just ask the spirits there for permission so you’re on their terrain as it were. So that’s a really good example of what can happen if you don’t, right? I’ll have to tell her about it. Well, I’ll have to get her to listen to the episode.
But thank you so much for sharing that, I really appreciate it and I’ll link to everything that you do below, but do you just want to say where… Where can people find you? What’s the easiest way to find you?
Kate: Yeah, it’s easiest to find me on Facebook at the moment because I’m still working on my website but that’s at kfheartwisdom.
Me: Super! OK. I’ll put the link to your site as well. Is it katefisher.co.uk? Is that right?
Me: Thank you so much, I really appreciate it, and I think I’m going to dive into our food tip.
Foods to feel grounded
And it’s really funny that there was all this stuff about stamping on the ground and everything because…
I mentioned at the beginning of this episode that I would share one of the best foods to feel grounded. And first I do want to kind of emphasize what I mean when we say grounded.
When we feel grounded, we feel more connected to the earth. Now this might sound airy-fairy, but it’s actually really important. So you can think of feeling grounded as the opposite of scatterbrained. In other words, instead of feeling confused, all over the place, not knowing what to do, when you’re grounded you actually have a clarity of purpose. It enables you to not only get things done but to know what those things actually are that you need to do for your own happiness.
And believe me, this is really, really important. I speak from very personal experience. The other way that you can think of being grounded is eating foods to feel grounded. It’s kind of like getting the benefits of comfort food without gaining weight, if that makes sense. You do get that, yeah, that sense of comfort from these particular foods, but you’re eating good food, you know? Rather than junk.
And for those of you who want to do some of your own shamanic journeys as Kate did, this particular food that I’m going to talk about can help you stay connected to this world too.
So although there are many foods to feel grounded, the ones that I want to mention here, or the one specific one is…squash!
Benefits of squash
And when I say squash, this actually covers a variety of vegetables: so you’ve got spaghetti squash, summer squash, zucchini, marrow and pumpkin. Those are all types of squash. Gourds as well, those are squash.
Squash is one of the oldest foods around – it’s been cultivated for at least 10,000 years, and it may look kind of ordinary, but it has a lot of health benefits.
Now you may not know this, but squash is listed as anti-fungal, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory! It contains vitamin A, several B vitamins, folates, magnesium, potassium, iron, copper, zinc, manganese, calcium, and beta carotene among other antioxidants.
So it’s insanely good for a whole host of things, including managing our blood sugar, keeping our lungs healthy, helping keep our eyes sharp and strong, having strong bones, and reducing the risks of many diseases including lung cancer, emphysema and glaucoma, and that’s just to name a few.
Squash has many other benefits and I’ll link to an article in the show notes if you’d like to read more about it.
Now however before you decide to start eating bushels of squash, I do have to warn you about one thing. Squash is very good at lowering blood pressure, and if you have low blood pressure already, squash could lower it even further. So if that’s you, best to eat other veggies instead. Fortunately there are lots of other alternatives that I do mention in other podcast episodes!
How you eat squash
Now as to how you eat squash, well there are so many ways to eat it! Most people puree it and make pancakes, or they slice it and fry it. My favorite way to eat it – and if you know me you’ll know what that is – it’s to spiralize it! I’ll link to an article in the show notes where I show you how to do just that. You can make great pasta using squash, and you don’t even have to boil it. Plus it’s naturally gluten-free, so everyone can eat it!
I’ve also got some delicious recipes that use squash in my 5-Minute Mains recipe ebook that I’ll link to as well.
Have YOU got a story to share?
Which brings us to the end of this week’s story – and if you’ve got a true story to share (and you’d like to know what food could have saved the day or enhanced your particular situation), I’d love to hear from you!
Got a question, or a comment?
I hope you have an amazing day. Thank you so much for being here with me to share in my Clean Food, Dirty Stories. Bye for now!
How to spiralize veggies: http://rockingrawchef.com/what-is-a-spiralizer-and-what-can-it-do-for-me/
Benefits of squash: https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/fruit/squash.html
Foods to feel grounded: https://www.sarahpetrunoshamanism.com/blog/12-foods-for-feeling-grounded/
Link to 5-Minute Mains and other recipe ebooks: https://rockingrawchef.com/5-minute-recipes/
Kate has studied many esoteric and spiritual practices to a basic level from an early age (13). When her Saturn return began (age 28), Kate moved abroad to study different healing techniques with healers and shaman of Philippines and Peru. She learnt that to know and embrace all parts of yourself is where true healing happens. With a holistic attitude to life and endeavouring to approach life from the heart, Kate believes that all aspects of the self – mind, body and spirit – play a part in the health of the person. Finding balance in all these aspects, we can live to our full potential.