What is Shamanic Healing
Shamanism is the most ancient spiritual and healing practice known to man. In fact, shamanism and shamanic healing date back to over 100,000 years and have been practiced all across the globe. It has been found in many indigenous cultures in North and South America, Australia, New Zealand, Central and Northern Asia, Eastern and Northern Europe and Africa. Shamanism organically arose all over the world, all throughout history, as a response to the needs of people. Shamanism is an ancient collection of traditions based on the act of voluntarily accessing and connecting to non-ordinary states — or spirit realms — for wisdom and healing.
The word “shaman” comes from the Siberian Tungus tribe. And it means “spiritual healer,” or, “one who sees in the dark.”
Generally, there is one shaman per community. These shamans access the spirit realm for the purpose of individual and communal growth and healing. They do this by restoring and removing energetic pathways, recovering soul parts, and communicating with non-physical helpers to discover the spiritual aspects of illness and find answers to life’s seemingly impossible questions.
This reality-penetrating ability marks them as the world’s very first doctors, storytellers, mystics, and even psychotherapists.
In shamanistic cultures, all adults are responsible for their relationships with spiritual energies, including those of their home environment (geography, animals, and plant life,) their ancestors, their own personal helping spirits, and Spirit, the creator force.
However, the shaman is unique in that he or she not only has increased facility for traveling in non-ordinary realms but also uses their spirit relationships to create changes that will manifest in the physical world, for the healing of individuals or the community. This definition differentiates shamans from other types of practitioners.
Shamans also act as great teachers, for they teach that everything is spirited. They teach that all things are interconnected and alive, including (but certainly not limited to) the Earth itself, the stars in the sky, and even the wind in the air. For this, it is also the shaman’s role in a community to demonstrate and maintain the harmonious balance of humankind, nature, and spirit.
Although shamans in some ways may act as teachers, many shamanic healers do not consider shamanism to be a religion. They feel this way because, within shamanism, there are no dogmas, no sacred text, and no single founder or leader.
The first thing those with shamanic abilities discover is that the hidden inner worlds are inhabited by transpersonal forces that the traditional peoples call spirits—the spirits of nature, the spirits of the elementals, the spirits of our ancestors, the spirits of the dead, as well as higher angelic forces, many of whom serve humanity as helpers and guardians, teachers and guides, and there are others.
The circle has been symbolized in many ways and in many forms, A symbol of our connection with everything there is the first step into and upon the circle is to understand our eternal connection to all there is based solely on the law of ONE nibwàkà refers to the primordial life force energy, from which the infinite diversity and abundance of the universe is created. This energy exists in everything. In humans, this is our sacred, soul force energy – our life force energy.
The purpose of life is to be ALIVE. To touch, feel, hear, see and live in a dynamic flow of PRESENCE. To indulge in our animal nature, respect our wisdom, face our fears, to open to the laughter that brings tears, and the joy that takes you beyond yourself.
Also known as a ‘soul flight’, the shamanic journey is when a shaman leaves their body intentionally and enters the spirit realms in order to gain insight, retrieve lost souls, and interact with shamanic spirits.
Ritual is important to those who wish to celebrate life, the Earth, or other Earth-centered or shamanic practice. Of course, there are the variously found but essentially similar rituals found throughout the world for opening circle, sometimes known as 'Calling in the Directions'. I personally applaud practitioners who can develop such a ritual for themselves, and create a lovely, and intense psycho-spiritual 'orienting' practice that engages the full person and prepares one for spiritual work.
From the shamanic perspective, we have a higher self – an energetic part of our self that never dies and has the potential to connect to anything and everything, universal energy. Shamanic cultures also perceive the spirit world as a real place with three distinct levels. The upper world is considered to be a place of only compassionate beings, primarily spirit teachers and the home of our higher self.
Through meditation and awareness practices, we may come into a conscious connection with our higher self, sometimes with the help of a spiritual teacher. Spirit teachers can take the form of a great leader or healer such as a Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Buddha or Mary Magdalene. Spiritual relationships with Spirit Teachers can be a great source of guidance and assistance in our life.
What Is A Shamanic Journey?
That invisible and mysterious place outside of time and physical reality has been examined in many different ways. It’s been called The Spirit Realm, Non-Ordinary Reality, The Parallel Universe, The Other World (Celtic traditions), Dreamtime (Australian aborigines), and countless others.
This spiritual place is where shamans go during their shamanic journeys.
A shamanic journey is always performed in a ceremonial context, as these realms are not to be taken lightly. Shamans enter these altered states of consciousness in order to communicate and connect with helping spirits to retrieve information. The information attained is generally brought back for healing purposes.
Preparations of the Sacred Space
When taking a shamanic journey, it is very important to establish a sacred space in which to work, and before anything else, prepare yourself and your environment.
Once you start preparing yourself, privacy needs to be assured so that your ritual space will not be interrupted. Impinging ordinary reality stimuli easily break our non-ordinary consciousness and proves disruptive, interfering with the process. Sound, movement, smell and sight from ordinary reality stimuli can all can signal a rapid awareness by the brain and cause it to lapse from its non-ordinary focus, if even momentarily, while it automatically investigates for ordinary reality threats or interests.
It is recommended to lie down and not move. Though a shamanic state of consciousness and sleep are very different, there is much that is similar in between the two, and the all-too-familiar pairing of lying down still with eyes closed in the darkness can lull one into sleep.
Preparations for Journeying
One then prepares further to make a shamanic journey by having a clear intention of where he or she is going (such as to the upper world or lower world) and what is to be done there. Having a clear intention, including both direction and goal, is crucial when given the vast latitude and potential that will quickly appear as we head into non-ordinary reality. Even if one’s ‘goal’ is to head to the upper or lower worlds with a general intention to let the spirit teachers and power animals there show us something we need to see, teach us something we need to know, or in other ways work with us in the manner they best see fit, this is still a pre-established clear intention for the journey before embarking. Ways that go ‘up’ are followed if one is journeying to the upper world and ways that go ‘down,’ if the lower world is the destination. Do not attempt to go 'sideways'. We decide on our path prior to embarking.
The Call Back
Whatever the intention of our shamanic journey to the upper or lower worlds, when we hear the ‘call back, we respond. Your first return to the portal where you entered the upper or lower world and then proceed back to ordinary reality the same route that you went.
After the Journey
After the Call Back is complete and you are fully 'back', there is generally a period of quiet. Journeyers often pull out a notebook and write down experiences during their journey, as it is fresh and more easily recalled. This is important to chronicle right after a shamanic journey, as our experiences may easily dissipate into less clarity or detail with even the passage of a little time. Our journeys carry important information, some of which may not always be clear to us at first blush. However, when we reread our notes and combine this information with our other life and shamanic journey experiences, even that which was at first unclear will begin to make sense.
How does a shaman embark on a Shamanic journey
A shaman can enter the spirit realm via trance, which is oftentimes induced using rhythmic percussion (a drum or rattle) and/or shaman songs. This is the safest and purest method of reaching these altered states of consciousness.
During these trances, the brain enters the Theta brainwave state. The Theta state exists between being awake and asleep. It’s where clairvoyance and creativity thrive, and deep spiritual connection can be experienced.
Shamans can also be guided in their spiritual journeys with the help of various plant medicines.
Plant medicines are highly respected and generally brought into awareness by previous communication with spiritual entities. However, shamans also report that the plants themselves told them of their power. These plants contain highly psychedelic properties and are oftentimes looked up to as spiritual entities, themselves — for example, Mother Ayahuasca.
Working with the assistance of their helping spirits, those transpersonal forces with whom they establish a relationship, shamans are able to restore power to persons who have been dramatically disempowered and diminished by their life experiences.
This is a very common part of our practice. We work with taking a step back from ourselves so that the healing spirits can take a step forward and work through us. By letting the healing spirits merge with and inhabit us they are able to come into direct contact with a client- offering to heal, nurturing, compassion, and soothing comfort. The spirits will often bring their medicine through healing songs that are then sung directly to the client.
This is a purification technique to cleanse a person's energy and aura. I commonly work with a fan of dried or fresh white pine from the forest. The leaves are shaken like a rattle and used to sweep a person down, drawing harmful energy away from them as this is done.
Through people's lives and their daily contact with the physical world, they are bombarded by energies and thoughts that do not belong to them. These energies can attach themselves and take up residence in a person's energy field or body. This foreign energy can then create blockages and imbalance that leads to physical illness, emotional blockages, and a lack of mental clarity. Through the process of Extraction Healing, we connect to our helping spirits and scan a person on an energetic/spirit level to detect where these energy intrusions reside. We then let the helping spirits draw out these energy intrusions from a person so that they can be returned back to the universe and go where they are needed.
Drum and Rattle Doctoring-
The soul doctoring spirits will often come through the vibrations of the drums and rattles to heal a person. The vibrations of these instruments break up dense energy and carry power from the spirit world into this one.
master uses these very unique healing stones to create what is called the "bands of power" around a person. This process can create bands of protection around a person to shield them from any unwanted energy they may encounter during their daily life.
Asin stones are also used in balancing and clearing a person's energy centers.
Everyone has helping spirits and guides. One form of the guide is a person's Power Animal, which is a spirit guide and protector in the form of an animal. Power Animals are also referred to as Totems or a Nagual in some traditions. Our Power Animal is our main guide and spiritual ally and if a person is not connected to their Power Animal they may suffer from a loss of energy, a weakened immune system, a sense of loneliness, and a lack of personal power. The process of Power Animal Retrieval is a technique where the shaman sends their consciousness to the spirit worlds while drumming or rattling on behalf of my client. The shaman then works with the spirit helpers to track down a person's Power Animal and return that energy to the client. This can also be done for a client who is already connected to their Power Animal but needs that connection and energy reactivated.
This is a process of returning fragmented, stifled, or "lost" aspects of a person to them to restore the wholeness of the soul. Through trauma, extended neglect, or mistreatment we may suffer from what is known as Susto or Soul Loss. This is a sense of feeling like part of us is missing or no longer accessible. We may feel "dead" or "numb" inside, apathetic about life, or as if we are a passenger in our own body. Through Soul Retrieval a shaman enters a trance state to find these missing or fragmented parts of the soul and return them to a client with the aid of the healing spirits.