WHAT IS SHAMANIC HEALING?
Let's keep it simple. Shamanic therapy sessions are the oldest form of healing known to humanity.
Prior to the rise of Western Civilization, we humans lived on Earth in relatively small communities -- and every one of these had at least one healer, whether a "medicine woman", "priest", "wise man", "sage", "kahuna", "seer", "sorceress" or "shaman" or "witch doctor". The training and initiation for these individuals was typically long, intense, and exacting. Few could pass the many tests involved, and it's fair to say that it was more difficult to earn the label of "shaman" that it is today to earn an "M.D."
Shamanism is based on science!
These ancient shaman healers possessed a thorough knowledge of human anatomy & physiology -- and archaeological digs in recent years have uncovered evidence of surprisingly advanced procedures, including surgery (on both internal organs and even the brain!) and repairs to major wounds. Shamans possessed an equally thorough knowledge of natural medicines based on ingredients garnered from plants, animals, and fungi. (The media often focuses on the recent popularity group sessions involving shamans and "magic mushrooms" -- this is but a tiny slice of the science of shamanism which I do not use in my practice.) In the same way that ancient astrologers were the first "mathematicians", Shamans were the first true "botanists" & "pharmacists", since they themselves needed to forage for specific plants and then prepare their own medications. So venerated was the local Shaman that they were often honored above the tribal "chief".
I have taken most of my formal training at the Four Winds School, which has preserved the wisdom and teachings of Peruvian culture, specifically the Laika Earthkeepers. Following is a brief summary of some of their fundamental principles. (You will find similar teachings around the world -- among the Inuit in the Arctic, Celts & Druids in the British Isles, Vikings & Russians, Turks & Persians, African bushmen, Tibetans, Chinese& Mongolians, Aboriginals of Australia, Hawaiin & Māori peoples to name but a few.)
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Modern Science Validates Shamanic Healing
We all know the saying "Everything old is new again". That's certainly true of Shamanic healing therapy. For the past 100 years, modern science has proven the validity of Shamanic principles over and over again.
Let's start at the top -- with Einstein!
Shamans see humans as "energy bodies" first and foremost. The physical body is a result of your energy body. It's what our 5-senses can read.
Einstein changed the world with E=mc2. In other words, if you take a hunk of solid matter, and multiply it's weight by c2 (the Speed of Light squared -- a huge number, about 3 trillion) that's how much energy you get. A lot!
But what is truly profound about this equation is that Matter and Energy are one and the same thing. Matter is Energy. It's just that Matter vibrates at a slow speed and Energy vibrates at a much higher frequency.
This implication for healers couldn't be more clear. Fix the energy, fix the body.
Your M.D. does this every day, using pharmaceuticals -- which rely on the science of Chemistry. And if you remember high school, Chemistry is simply the study of how atoms interact by sharing what? Electrons! Which are pure packets of electrical energy. (Good memory!)
Fix the Energy, Fix the Body. That's why we call Shamanic Healing > Energetic Embodiment. The only difference between modern medical science and shamanic science is that the Shaman does not use chemicals developed by the pharmaceutical companies. Shamans use natural medicines.
Freud, Jung, Psychiatry and the Mind/Body Connection
Around the same time that Einstein revolutionized all of "hard science", Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung were inventing the "soft science" of psychology. Freud's discovery of the power of the "subconscious" and Jung's theory of archetypes share a common thread. That is, that the Mind and Emotions affect the Physical Health of the Body! Today, 100 years later, we take that for granted ... but at the time it was a revolutionary idea. Decades of research have proven again and again that Body, Emotions, and Mind are completely interconnected and influence each other. We hear all the time about the Olympic gymnast who visualizes "sticking the landing" or the pro Football kicker who "sees the ball go through the goal posts".
Fix the Mind/Emotions, Fix the Body. Shamans have always known this and use the power of clearing the Emotions and the Mind to heal the Body. Shamanic healing therapy uses powerful techniques that leverage the power of our mind through exercises in visualization, imagination, focus, and intention. Shamans also work with the power of your emotions through exercises that build courage, calm, honesty and trust.
If this sounds a lot like the "personal empowerment' guru's that you see on talk shows, or the "success seminars" advertised everywhere -- you're right! The difference is that a Shaman uses time-tested techniques (not the latest fad) to work with you -- one-on-one -- to focus on healing specific issues in your body. And it's not all rainbows and lollipops. Your Shaman will help you find -- and face up to -- the dark energy shadows that create patterns of failure, anxiety, addiction, fear, or chronic fatigue/pain that prevent you from experiencing good health.
The Hero's Journey and The Medicine Wheel
Joseph Campbell's lifetime exploration of the importance of "myths" in civilizations around the globe is familiar to anyone watches a bit of PBS television. His research shows that the "Hero's Journey" is probably the most prevalent myth (or story) promulgated throughout history. With good reason. The "Hero's Journey" talks about how we get from "where we are" to "where we want to be". And, whatever the culture, it attempts to provide both the clarity and wisdom to make that Journey successfully. We all take many such Journeys during our lives. Every job, every relationship, every relocation, every class or instructional program ... every major effort is a form of the Hero's Journey. That include the Journey from sickness to health.
The Shaman uses a diagram called a "Medicine Wheel" as a "map" to help navigate each Journey. It is emblematic of a "compass", with the four cardinal points, South, West, North, East amplified by the ancient symbols Serpent, Jaguar/Panther, Hummingbird and Condor/Eagle. These symbols help identify, clarify, and focus on the 4 major segments of every Hero's Journey. Here's a brief summary of the steps on that Journey -- the Journey from sickness to health that a Shaman will guide you through.
Step One - Letting Go (South).
We can't move forward into a brighter Future until we are ready, willing, and able to shed something about ourselves from the Past ... just as every snake must shed it's skin in order to grow. Typically, this "something to shed" is an aspect of our being that we strongly "identify" with. An example might be, "I'm a coward at heart. I'm too afraid to move far away from my cozy home to take that new job opportunity a thousand miles away." Or "I always get horrible headaches when I get my period." This process of empowerment begins with the movement of “Identification”, shedding what binds you – and being able to step out of the "victim" role (or the "enabler", "bully" or any other role). Then you are able to grow from the experience without blame or constriction. This process creates new clarity for your own story to begin. Now you are ready to embark on the “Hero’s Journey”, whereby you are driven by the "inner compass" of your own destiny.
Step Two - Rebirth/Renewal (West).
Also known mythically as "Death". Of course, in many traditions, Death is simply a doorway we go through to begin a new phase of Life. The Jaguar, as the supreme predator in the jungle, is the agent of Death who "kills those who are ready to move on to the next stage -- the weak, the old, the sick or the tired. Here is where you need to draw on the power of fearlessness -- and the Shaman can help with that. As you look to the West and see the sun set on your old ways and beliefs, we must not give in to fear. Fear is the absence of love in the same way that darkness is the absence of light. Fear disconnects us from spirit, from nature and from our own inner selves. When we stand in courage, we are able to see our inner self clearly -- including our shadow (subconscious) parts that we like to keep hidden.
Step Three - Integration & Transformation (North).
This is the stage of putting on your new "skin" to replace what was shed in step one. It's where we visualize/accept our new role, identity, or project. This direction represents the stillness of your soul that comes from this peace, allowing you to see your vision of what your soul wants, your new direction. The Hummingbird, although in constant motion, is also the one flying creature that can hover completely motionless -- always able integrate with its new location in space. Shamanic exercises that foster such Integration include:
Beginners Mind – becoming childlike, empty minded
Living Consequentially – taking responsibility for all of your actions
Transparency – full honestly, no more hiding
Integrity – true to your word and not misusing your words. North is the direction where you use Visualization, the language of images and myths – the language of the soul -- to help you stay on your Journey and create your Dream. Visualization is more powerful than using affirmations. (Here again, we find principles & practices reaffirmed by psychology and psychiatry.)
Step Four -Transcendence/Release (East)
East is represented by the Eagle. Eagle is pure Spirit and perceives only beauty. The movement is “transcendence”. Everything you experience is a projection of your inner landscape or dreams. For the Laika, the world is a screen that we project our movie onto. The same findings have been proven by research into Cognitive Psychology over the last several decades. In others words, none of us actually know much about "reality". We only "know" what our 5 very limited senses -- of sight, sound, smell, hearing and touch -- translate to the brain. So, you never really need to "fix" anything in the outer world – including your health issues. If you want to transform some circumstance that appears to be outside of yourself, you simply just "own it" and change it within! Once this transformation occurs inside, there is an ease and clarity with the changes that need to happen in the outside world.
The changes that we want to see in our lives and in the world, first have to happen within ourselves. This is how we begin to “transcend”. You may feel like you've heard many of these ideas from various popular psychologists, gurus, life coaches -- or guests on Oprah. And you have! But these so-called "new discoveries" are really just modern experts on cognition confirming knowledge and belief systems that are literally over 100,000 years old. The symbols -- Serpent, Jaguar, Hummingbird, Eagle -- may seem quaintly primitive (and perhaps they are) -- but symbols always change with the times. The Shamanic Principles behind these symbols are solid, extremely powerful, and have stood the test of centuries. In other words, they hold up to the same tests of the "scientific method" that our technological world is based on.
The Shaman acts as a guide to take the patient around the Medicine Wheel -- sometimes several times -- and as we go around the wheel, we find that things have shifted, and WE are different -- thanks to the mind/body connection -- now rediscovered by modern science -- that Shamans have used since the dawn of humanity.
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Thank you to my teachers and the Laika lineage.
I found Shamanism when I started to realize that I wanted to go deeper in my growth as a healing professional. I was already using Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy, Classical 5-Element Acupuncture, and Chinese Herbal Medicine in my practice. I had taught Yoga and Meditation. After 40 years of much deep healing work, I still felt that there must be some ancient way of unearthing and healing parts of myself -- and clients -- based on a process of returning to our roots of wholeness.
I knew through observing patients in my own practice, that there was something more, something almost "magical" at the root of all healing. Arthur C. Clarke, author of the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, is famous for saying: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Shamanic healing is one such an "advanced technology". And it can appear to be magical. Until you understand what's going on.
Understanding the roots of how Nature heals, and the energetics of this type of healing, has been my lifelong quest. I was drawn to Shamanism for its deep and ancient methods for healing. It has been the most transformational practice in my life ...
ARE YOU READY TO BEGIN YOUR HEALING JOURNEY?
We can begin together with a 10-minute phone call where we discuss what you're experiencing, and I let you know if I feel that shamanic healing can help. And please remember, Shamanic Healing sessions may be done remotely -- via phone or online with Zoom. You'll get all the same benefits.