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Long Ago and Far Away .  .  .


In 1972, while earning a Master's degree in humanistic psychoogy, I took a course titled, "Phenomenology of Community." For our final project, in this class, three other grad students and I (strangers to each other before grad school) researched the phenomenology of our developing friendships with each other, while they were unfolding. We named our new research method, Dialogal Phenomenology. 


As you may know, the definition of phenomenology until then was, "the study of individual experience." 


While reviewing the social science literature about friendship for the class project, I learned that the majority of friendship studies were conducted by men and funded by men. Therefore, most of the research conclusions about friends were based on data men had collected and interpreted. 

The prevailing academic view of the function of women’s friendships in traditional cultures seemed bizarre to me: women and children in traditional societies were incapable of significant, meaningful friendship ties. After taking my M.A., I decided to look into this matter.


Male researchers saw male friendship as a relationship to faciliate the exchange of goods and services.

Since most women in patriarchal societies typically had limited or no access to the type of property, transportation and marketable resources that men controlled, women in patriarchal societies were generally classed in academic circles as being like children: incapable of maintaining genuine friendships. 


My friendships with women were such a vital part of my life, I found this conclusion preposterous. I decided to select a traditional culture where I could study women's friendships. 


Because I knew enough Spanish to get by, I moved to Spain. A year later, the danger and chaos of the impending collapse of the Franco regime eventually led me to a small mountain village on the island of Crete where I conducted fieldwork for a doctorate in humanistic psychology (Saybrook University, 1981.)


Living in the village after I gained the trust of several women who understood my project and were willing to help me, I began to realize that the reason men social scientists who had studied women's friendships had no idea that women's friendships in a patriarchal society had to be conducted in secret.


After several months, women began to tell me about their relationships with their best friends. Eventually I was shown into a vast underground network of  women and their friends that provided spiritual, material and psychological support. This network was secret because it was considered to be a threat to the village patriarchy. In reality this network was largely what kept life going in the village.


My findings about women's friendships in a small Greek mountain village on the island of Crete was the first study of its kind, and its results overturned basic social science conclusions about women's friendships in a traditional culture. Gender and Power in Rural Greece (Princeton University Press, 1986, Jill Dubisch, ed.).

I returned to the States and got my degree. Because my research included wisdom from anthropology, psychology and feminism, I chose the title of Clinical Anthropologist to describe my approach that incorporated the above disciplines.


In 1981, I opened an unconventional private practice in Atlanta, Georgia that flourished for many years and continues in a small town in the NE Georgia mountains.

I continued to visit Crete for extended periods, visiting old friends neighbors and god children, developing my deeper sense of connection to that magical land.


A turning point in my life and work came in 1990, when I became intrigued by the work of the late Felicitas Goodman, Ph.D., a German psychological anthropologist. 


Goodman was a prolific scholar, poet and medical translator (17 languages!) who earned a Ph.D. in psychological anthropology when she was in her mid-sixties.


In 1977, Felicitas re-discovered that, in certain non-Western cultures, figurines of humans in unusual, yoga-like poses used during rituals depict a technique of entering profound states of religious altered consciousness.


After participating in one of her workshops and reading her book about the reconstructed method she had developed as a way to experience the effects of poses she had identified from non-Western cultures ,Felicitas and I became colleague and eventually friends. (Felicitas Goodman, Where the Spirits Ride the Wind; Indiana University Press, 1990).


For two years, I participated in every workshop Felicitas Goodman offered.


Since then I haven't been able to take my eyes off these poses that appear in the art of prehistoric Crete from almost microscopic size on gold seal rings to the life-size terra cotta figurines found on the island of Kea.

I began practicing and teaching the poses from Crete in earnest. I learned a great deal through my friends' and my own visions that came during our weekly circle in Atlanta where we learned over 100 poses. In that circle, I was always a participant, never a facilitator.


In 1992, I returned to Crete and began to study, with "new" eyes, the prehistoric figurines of humans in unusual poses that I had completely ignored the entire time I lived on Crete in the '70's.  visions of workshop participants in workshops I attended in Felicitas Goodman's institute in Santa Fe, NM, and offered to the public, private groups of friends I convened in my living room on Crete and 

In 1992, I returned to Crete and began to study, with "new" eyes, the prehistoric figurines of humans in unusual poses that I had completely ignored the entire time I lived on Crete in the '70's. 

All the while I was learning from the inside out about what I now understand to be evidence that the first European culture (on the island of Crete) had elements of shamanistic, if not shamanic, healing practices that were connected to these poses that were a part of the island's culture from 7,800 BCE to around 450 BCE. 

Since then I haven't been able to take my eyes off these poses that appear in the art of prehistoric Crete from almost microscopic size on gold seal rings to the life-size terra cotta figurines found on the island of Kea.



I began practicing and teaching the poses from Crete in earnest. I learned a great deal through my friends' and my own visions that came during our weekly circle in Atlanta where we learned over 100 poses. In that circle, I was always a participant, never a facilitator.


This understanding liberated me, because until Iearned about the poses--and eventually shamanism--I  had deliberately avoided organized religion of any kind, Buddhism, meditation techniques, yoga. I especially avoided all shamanic practices because I was uncomfortable appropriating spiritual practices from non-western cultures.


And as far as I knew, there was no way to experience European shamanic or shamanistic practices.


I was overjoyed when I realized that there is a way to access the spiritual worlds of the first prehistoric European civilization known as “Minoan."


The spiritual effects of experiencing and teaching these poses changed my life and my work. Since 1992, I am still learning from these poses from Crete, along with other Indo-European practices.


Today, thanks to the work of Felicitas Goodman and others like me around the world, who are interested in shamanistic poses (some of which are still practiced today--for example, in Nepal and Eritrea), there are tens of thousands of people who have gone on to experience how to transform consciousness through experiencing the powerful effects of specific positions of the body, with specific percussion, with an appropriate intention, in a safe, respectful, sacred atmosphere.

I am currently finishing a book-length manuscript about my research.


For a link to a recent article I wrote in Sacred Hoop Magazine, synopsizes my work on Crete’s sacred poses, click here.


I still visit Crete frequently, where Greek-American Patricia Kyritsi Howell and I lead tours sponsored by our small travel company, Wild Crete Travel, LLC.


Wild Crete Travel specializes in small group, custom, off the beaten path experiences of Greek culture, history and what I refer to as spiritual archaeology.


We seek out wild places, amazing traditional Cretan cuisine (Crete is where Tuscany got the idea), and the essence of life on this beautiful island, along with one-of-a-kind museum tours based upon my original research.


Book a private session with me here.


To find out about upcoming tours, click here.


Sign up for a workshop here.

Click here to listen to a live discussion between Nika Annon and me.


Send me an email. or Phone me: (706) 746-5485

Here is My Story.


My work happens in an existing, respectful,

internationally diverse, spiritually-oriented community of mostly women like you (sincere men sometimes join us.)


Once upon a time, although we, too, knew exactly what we were looking for, we didn't know for sure that it even existed nor where to find it.


Now you have found us. Welcome.


I am a shamanistic practitioner and clinical anthropologist working at the intersection of consciousness and culture.


I offer: 

  • One-on-one sessions in person or by phone.
  • Unique workshops in the USA and Greece (sometimes with other practitioners.)
  • Workshops and tours of prehistoric ("Minoan") shamanism based upon my original research on the island of Crete.
  • And more.






Aghios Nikolaos, Crete, 1975.

Copyright Robinette Kennedy 2017