Barbara's Big Bleed Story – Doing it the initiatory shamanic style

Barbara Dopfer

When I saw the BBC documentary about Mandy Adams doing her bleed every month in a garden cottage, I said to myself: “One day I’m going to sit in such hut.” Not imagining that this would actually be a reality just 6 weeks later.

So I got my next bleed and for some reason on day 4 I looked into my calendar, realizing that the next bleed would be during a week in which I am not working. Which meant that on this day 4 I planted the seeds of taking the required steps to go away for the next bleed. I was sure about one thing: I did not want to stay at home. I have done “bleed & rest-weekends” at home and they are great. But since I am self-employed and actually live where I work, I can never 100% close my inner shop down.

There is always a project to think about or a book to read.

I live very close to the Alps, so I imagined doing my big bleed in a cottage in the mountains. I strongly believe that the “vision and direction-energy” of my Day 4 helped me to get this dream fulfilled within one month. I asked around and one friend knew about a man who has a little fishing cottage which he rents out to people who need a short break from their daily lives.

It is located close to a village in the midst of mountains. Even though it’s not far from a residential area, it feels like being far away. I called the man and the dates worked for him. He said he doesn't need to know anything about me, his intuition tells him that it's gonna be okay. And my intuition told me the same.

Even when I told him that I might have to be a little flexible about dates, he was ok with it.

One month later, the blood came. It was in the morning and a little earlier than expected. Everything was prepared, so I just put food and everything I would need in my car and drove for 40 mins to get there. I met Eugen, the owner and he gave me a little tour. In some ways, this was way better than I expected. And with better I mean, it was very basic. Only one old gas stove and no running water. It had to be taken from the creek nearby. And no toilet, which I knew about.

He said he is completely ok with me going into the woods around. He encouraged me to make a campfire in the evening and put a hammock up for me. Then he left and there I was with absolutely no distractions; my mobile phone switched off.

Eugen is deeply into shamanic work, which was reflected all around. Handmade dream catchers with huge feathers, medicinal herbs all around the hut AND a half-decayed goat head over the entrance door of the hut. The smoky smell inside the hut reminding me of old days, far away from the clean and sometimes sterile world of today.

So in some ways, this was the perfect place for a big bleed. But I have to say, that never in my life before, I slept completely alone in a wooden hut. And that I don’t feel super comfortable between lots of feathers on the ceiling, cobwebs everywhere and chamois sculls on the wall. But the decision was made. So I slowed down.

The first half of the day I spent laying in the hammock with once in a while getting up to freebleed on the earth.

It was a mix of sinking deeply into dream states and battling with thoughts about how I am going to spend the night there or how slow time can go by, when I counted the church bells from far away.

At around noon my inner restlessness increased, so I decided to unpack my yoga mat and do some gentle yin yoga on the grass followed by a long yoga nidra with the sun shining on my face.

Through slowing down more and more and I think because the “kitchen” there was not very tempting, I realized that I was not hungry at all at noon. This was a revelation for me, because I often tend to eat not knowing whether I am actually hungry at all. My body and even my digestion were telling me to rest. This experience even stayed with me for the next days.

I consciously only took two books with me, one being my diary and the other one a fairy tale from Kirgizstan. I started reading the tale, which was all about the elements, living with the seasons and being part of nature. It fitted so well into my surrounding.

When it started to drizzle in the afternoon, I shifted my rest place to the other side of the hut. There was an awning, so I prepared myself an outdoor bed under it on my yoga mat with lots of blankets. I just laid there, eyes semi-opened or closed. I looked at the tree above me for ages, seeing the leaves in a way I never saw them before and listening to the drizzle of rain on the surface of the fish pond.

There were moments of complete bliss, feeling the blood running out of my body, feeling my body so tender and soft and my thoughts being so slow I could see them coming and going. This state of being felt so healing.

Staying in this slow-motion mode I prepared a simple dinner consisting of some bread and raw veggies. And after that, I made a campfire. What a great experience for me to make a fire just for myself and for my own pleasure. And again I sat there in front of the fire on a bench wrapped in blankets. This felt so utterly luxurious and feminine and wild. My concerns about sleeping in the hut alone by myself disappeared for that moment.

And after looking into the fire for ages, I finally went inside the hut to go to bed. But when I went inside, fears rose on the surface. At first, I was not able to close the door. There was no electric lighting, so I lighted a couple of candles. The fears were about being in a spooky place with weird spirits. Or images of movies with women being assaulted came up.

But simultaneously I felt deep trust. And this trust came out of my slow “day 1 body”. My body was too tired to freak out the whole night and I felt held in the magic of the inner winter bubble, so that after a while I finally closed the door and blew off all candles except the one next to my bed. It might have been another hour of inner decelerating until I finally blew the last candle and slept.

I woke up the next morning by the sounds of nature and the sunlight. Then I went to the creek to wash myself and to get water for a grain coffee. The sun was back and I sat outside to write in my diary. Eugen came back and asked me whether I want fresh fish. I said yes because this felt right for me on this special occasion. Eating vegetarian food most of the time, I have not seen an animal being killed for a very long time. So here I witnessed it all and within five minutes the fish was a filet.

More blood on the ground, not just mine in the woods. The fish got roasted over the fire and tasted fantastic. I did feel like I was in a different reality. Nothing to think about, except sleep, food and toilet. How freeing!

The rain started again in the afternoon and this time it got stronger. I sat under the roof in front of the entrance of the hut with the goat skull above me, observing the rings the raindrops created on the surface of the water.

Pulling tarot cards there felt super magical and it seems that the card I pulled that day accompanies me for many month now.

When it started to get darker, suddenly my intuition told me to switch my mobile phone on. My sister had texted me about a family emergency. Our mum would need support when going for an operation which had to be done earlier than expected.

So in the evening of my Day 2, I drove back home. It felt like I was away for ages. The world looked different. The simplicity and rawness of this place brought me back again to the things that really matter.

Life circumstances expected a very awake and present me on Day 3. But it was ok, because the experience stayed with me and gave me strength. And even though this special big bleed, was not as long as expected and as well not that easy and comfortable, something inside of me was healed.

~ Barbara


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