USA — Give me an ’S’ for Shamanic Cheerleaders
Tuesday 15 June 2010, by
It was spirit week at Windrush School in El Cerrito, and all grades, from kindergarten to eighth, filled the gym for a pep rally.
Into the center of the basketball court bounced the Shamanic Cheerleaders of San Francisco, four women dressed in feathers, leopard-print miniskirts and Ugg boots.
"Ready? Om-kay!" they chanted, striking a meditating Bodhisattva pose.
"Don’t be a worrier! (hiding their heads in their hands)
Just be a warrior! (yoga warrior pose)
Don’t be a worrier!
Just be a warrior!
You rock!" (insert air guitar riffs)
Taking their message of inner peace to schools, nightclubs, eco-conferences and Las Vegas concerts, the Shamanic Cheerleaders have found a niche cheering for everybody’s soul.
Their tongue-in-cheek performances poke fun at the best of Bay Area New Ageism, from the raw foodies to the sacred geometry groups to the ayurveda followers. But underneath the jokes is a serious intention to raise eco-consciousness and find enlightenment by making everyone feel like a winner.
"We take big concepts within Buddhism, shamanism, Hinduism and the environmental movement, and we teach them down in a cheer that’s peppy and catchy," said founder Rana Satori, 35. "When we cheer it’s like a compassionate smack on the astral plane."
They use bunches of kale for pom-poms at organic fairs and are routinely invited to bring their divine pep to yoga conferences, green festivals and the 2008 Global Summit in San Francisco for social and environmental changemakers.
Every Halloween they morph into the Demonic Shamanic Cheerleaders for the Freakers Ball in San Francisco; during the presidential election they became the Obamic Shamanic squad urging votes in Barack’s favor.
"We sing, dance, cheer, rap and flow, and it’s all to inspire and heal people," said cheerleader Wendy Faith Levicoff.
Their workshops promise to help pupils find the confidence and radical self-expression to unleash their inner cheerleaders. (...)
Satori first experimented with the shamanic cheerleader concept at the Burning Man desert festival as a form of expressive arts therapy.
"I came to Burning Man that year as different characters - Raggedy Ann with abandonment issues, Boundary Girl who beckoned and pushed away, and a weird alien blue character that was this saucy chick," Satori said.
But the Shamanic Cheerleader character was the biggest hit. The former wolf mascot at the University of New Mexico found she still had the hoo-rah in her - and that people liked to be cheered for no apparent reason.
"It was such a magical experience, I thought, ’God, I need to make a troupe. One cheerleader - who ever heard of that?’ "
It wasn’t hard to find a willing posse. Acrobats, yoga teachers, a naturopathic doctor, musicians, therapists and aerialists showed up for the first tryouts three years ago.
Jolana Bishay, 31, a full-time mom in Oakland, recently landed a spot on the squad by singing a spiritual and segueing into "the Hokey Pokey" and ending with the thought: "Maybe that truly is what it’s all about."
"There’s so much dogma in the Bay Area, it’s a relief to be around the shamanic energy, which is all about levity and accepting everyone," said funk singer Blane Lyon, who provides music for Shamanic shows.
The way Satori sees it, so many people in the Bay Area are searching for enlightenment that it has become overly serious - almost like a spiritual race. (...)