“It’s important to embrace whatever stage of life you’re at and not fight it”

A woman based in Blarney is working with other women providing ceremonies for all the major rites of passage in life, writes NICOLA DEPUIS
“It’s important to embrace whatever stage of life you’re at and not fight it”

Ioana-Maria Iliut, based in Blarney a practitioner of ceremonial work.

“CEREMONIES are not just a matter of shaking feathers or rattles, and singing a song - they’re really important parts of human life, and it’s weird that we don’t have many of them anymore,” says Blarney-based Ioana-Maria Iliut, a practitioner of ceremonial work.

“I feel this is part of the disconnection that is going on with human beings - disconnection from our own bodies, from our own life paths and missions.”

Having spent the past 18 years learning indigenous wisdom from around the world, Transylvanian- born Ioana moved to Cork in 2019, with a one-way ticket, a backpack, and a sense that this is where she was meant to be.

Ioana-Maria Iliut
Ioana-Maria Iliut

“My previous relationship ended, and everything was falling away that I knew and that was familiar. Completely just falling apart to be rebuilt,” says Ioana.

“I’ve had many times like this where I’ve had to start from scratch. When shifts like these happen, I tend to not ask many questions. I just go where I feel led, and I’m really happy I did because I feel very good in Ireland.”

Ioana works mainly with women, providing ceremonies for all the major rites of passage in life.

“Ceremonies are my life and work, as well as the place where I feel at peace and fully happy,” says Ioana Maria. 

She’s reticent to accept the terms Healer or Shaman and believes “there’s no difference between somebody who does healing work, or somebody who does accounting. As long as you’re called to do it and you love it, and you don’t suck too much at it, as they say in Ireland - it’s the role we have in the ecosystem.

“I have a hard time with people who put themselves on pedestals because they do spiritual work or who indulge other people putting them on pedestals. That does not go together with the value of humbleness and just offering your life for this work of being in service.”

Ioana-Maria Iliut
Ioana-Maria Iliut

Ioana’s work, under the name The Gentle Healing Way, includes one-to-one sessions, as well as women’s circles and ceremonies. She works with mothers before and after giving birth, as well as with mothers who are grieving children that lived briefly in this world, or who never got to live outside of their mothers - whether through miscarriage or abortion.

“I know that’s a very delicate subject, but there are certain ceremonies you can do to acknowledge and grieve – to find those little souls and allow some sort of closure.”

One of the ceremonies she performs is for women who are 40 days postpartum.

“When a woman brings life into the world, she’s quite open, because she is connecting the spirit world, if you want to call it that, with the physical world, by bringing life into the world. So, she’s like a gateway. And it’s important that gateway is closed energetically after the 40 days, so she gets anchored again in the world.”

She also holds welcoming ceremonies for the baby – “where we welcome them on Earth and wish them a good, healthy, happy and fulfilled life”.

Ioana’s ceremonies are a blend of knowledge learned from indigenous cultures worldwide, as well as from her own Romanian heritage.

“In Romania, we have certain ceremonies that are done when the child is a year old to anchor them into the world. There are also puberty ceremonies - when the girls first have their periods they are welcomed amongst the women. And the boys, also around the age of 13/14, are welcomed into the world of men.

“It’s important that these rites of passage are acknowledged and marked - this prevents grown women and men from acting like teenagers in their adult years.”

An instrumental part of Ioana’s life in Transylvania was her grandmother Elisabetta, who ‘left for the big home’ a few years back.

“She had this amazing gift of prayer. Any time one of us would have a test in school or university, she would continuously pray, from the time we started till the time our test finished. I swear you could feel those prayers - they were so strong.”

Ioana grieved deeply for her grandmother’s passing, and says: “Like everything alive in this world, we have a life cycle. We’re born, we live, and we go back to where we came from. It’s a cycle.”

She’s passionate about reconnecting people with the natural cycles of life.

“We’re not supposed to function on the nine to five cycle, especially in winter when the sun’s not up at eight. Our bodies are not designed to function under these weird artificial rules,” says Ioana.

“Life is much easier when we understand how our bodies work according to how nature works, and where we live geographically. You can fight it. You can take pills, you can take energisers, but that’s not going to change the fact that we’re designed to follow cycles.

“People fight so much against wrinkles. I call wrinkles my battle scars. They show where I’ve been, and there’s going to be more battle scars as life progresses. It’s not the end of the world. It’s important to embrace whatever stage of life you’re at and not fight it.”

To find out more about Ioana’s work, email: thegentlehealingway@gmail.com or go to: https://thegentlehealingway.wordpress.com/

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