Shamanism is a practice of intense healing. We will discuss in this lesson how Shamanism is used today, the power and misuse of power that it brings to the forefront, the personal steps in the shamanic journey, the need for grounding of shamanic energy as it comes up in our daily lives, dream work and application of shamanic knowledge through dream retrieval, the work of the underworld and upper world…and all of this leading to our healing through our personal journey. The homework involved in this work is personal in nature, and should only be shared, if indeed you chose to share it, with a partner or me.
Shamanism is an experiential practice; knowledge of spirits and other worlds stems from shamans who journey thither; it cannot be fully comprehended or annotated by theoretical anthropologists, only by those who experience this for themselves. Shamanism is rapidly becoming the most overused and misappropriated word of the late twentieth century. Too many people read a book, attend a workshop and become ‘instant shamans’, or else rework their therapeutic training and add the word “Shamanic”, in the hope that this will align their work with the current fashion. We lose context when we start trying to water down the true meaning of Shamanism.
Shamanism isn’t a therapy, although it may have a therapeutic effect. Psychotherapists of many kinds may wish to append the role of shaman to their list of skills but, although analysts may study client’s dreams and visions, they do not act as shamans, since they do not accompany clients on journeys or journey on their behalf. THIS IS THE WHOLE POINT OF SHAMANISM….THE TRAVELING INTO THE SPIRIT WORLD…WITH OR FOR THE PERSON BEING HEALED….In my personal work, I use the planets to connect me to the spiritual universe, therefore making my journey meaningful and giving me some form of communication technique to bring back. I have experienced this leaving of the body and connecting to planetary energies since I was 29 years old…and I am now in my 70th year…and I cannot, with all honesty, say that the journey can be made totally at will and with full consciousness…I tend to still space out and need grounding.
IMPORTANT: This is for information only and the practices of Shamans. I am not training you to be a shaman. You are getting information so that you can be aware of all the metaphysical healing techniques that exist in our world today. It can be very dangerous to try to train yourself or be trained to be a Shaman. You will find that reading some of this material will be beneficial to you. As Chopra, Kubler Ross, Louise Hay, all practice their healing with the knowledge that they often will succumb to the same illnesses as they are trying to heal…because they are not able to clear the body to perfection.
When Spirit calls us, it totally changes our lives. In past eras, many people have received the help of a shaman but few wished to become one. When the call to become a shaman arises, it is often severely resisted; eventually the candidate submits since resistance becomes life threatening. This seemingly coercive spiritual call should be regarded in the same light as that of an artist who says, ‘I must create or die!’ spiritual conversion works along the same lines. We can look at the example of St. Paul who converted from a Christian-hating Jew to the primary missionary of early Christianity. He heard the voice of God on the Damascus road was stricken blind and lay immobile for three days; he could only be healed when he acknowledged the will of God…In exchange for his healing he had to dedicate his whole life to Spirit.
If we ignore Spirit, we immediately become imbalanced and lose touch with reality. We fall into disease, separation and disharmony. To reconnect with reality, wholeness and harmony we must acknowledge the Spirit of all things. This does not mean becoming a strict religious believer, necessarily, although it might do, but involves recognition that Spirit is reality and the willingness to inhabit that reality.
People at this time are seeking to restore their own spiritual authority. Rather than believing in just one story about spirit and making that their personal myth or ‘story to live by’, they seek their own spiritual connection. Humans hunger for structure and absolutes in which to put their spiritual philosophy…there is none…that will suffice to fulfill that which belongs only to YOU….
Shaman Power and the Misuse of Power
Shamans believe and work with the power of Spirit, which sustains, changes and flows through all thins. This power of Spirit is the vital energy of the universe, it is life. Shamans bring life by reconnecting the broken links of power.
Like Spirit, the word ‘power’ has problematic associations in our language. It bears the connotation of ‘authority’, usually of the dictatorial or censorious kind. I am talking about the power of life, the vital energy of Sprit which runs through all. At no point am I talking about power as a mode of violence or tyranny.
In the Amazonian culture of the Desana Indians it is believed that the quantity of energy or power is fixed and that ‘man must remove what he needs only under certain conditions and must convert this particle of ‘borrowed’ energy in a form that can be reincorporated into the circuit’. By manipulating power, our society has lost its spiritual authenticity and we have cut ourselves off from the reciprocal circuit of Spirit and power. It is no wonder we are spiritually gasping for breath.
Power flows through all of us. It does not belong to us, but is vitality common to all. It comes into us, passes through our being and moves on again. It is always entering and leaving us, like our breath. To speak of possessing power is as ridiculous as owning the air in our lungs. When the pathways of the SPIRIT are blocked, then power cannot flow. Those who have kept the pathways open are often feared by those who have not: the latter consequently often harbor jealousy of any creative skill.
The cosmic web which connects all life as a universal source…is like an electrical grid: each part of it hums with power. Wherever disconnection’s and blockages occur, the power cannot flow. No single being distributes this power: all beings are responsible for keeping it flowing. We each share in it in the same way that everyone swimming in the sea of this power shares in the water: some bodies displace more water than others. It is not apportioned equally, but is available to all.
Those who are spiritually aware are generally perceived to be powerful in the sense of being livelier, more integrated and less unbalanced than others; they may achieve more in a shorter time, be more open to ideas and therefore more resourceful. Being a powerful person does not make you stronger, healthier and most successful than others. This is very important to remember. The more pathways we walk through the worlds, the more power-cables connect us. But to whom more is given, more is required.
Many are drawn to shamanism because it seems to offer them instant empowerment. By walking between the worlds we indeed may enhance our vitality and power, but this is only and incidental effect, that shamanism is not therapy, that a deeper commitment and responsibility are required.
Like Spirit, power is non-dual; it is itself, but it can be misplaced. The shaman’s duty is to reconnect and restore broken power-lines, as well as to remove and re-circuit in appropriate accumulations of power. Such work is not done indiscriminately or without recourse to the cosmic web of power which connects all things. The circumstances surrounding any shamanic action are first investigated in both physical and subtle reality to discover whether a course of action is appropriate.
It is only by consulting the whole universe though the networks of Spirit and power that healing connections can be reestablished. Wherever one part of the cosmic web is healed, power is restored to the whole web, benefiting all.
Jean Achterberg, author of Woman as Healer says that healing is remembering what has been forgotten about connection, and unity and interdependence among all things living and non-living. And she also said in the book, “Soul loss is regarded as the gravest diagnosis in shamanism, being seen as a cause of illness and death. Yet it is not referred to at all in modern Western medical books. It is becoming increasingly clear that what the shaman refers to as soul loss– that is injury to the inviolate core that is the essence of the person’s being–does manifest in despair, immunological damage, cancer, and a host of other very serious disorders. It seems to follow the demise of relationships with loved ones, career, or other significant attachments.”
Our society has associated illness with physical ailments, however, illness occurs at all levels of the psyche and cannot affect one part of the being without affecting other parts. Shamanism has been preserved down the ages because of its ability to provide healing, reconnection and restoration of the physical connected to Spirit. Sometimes the shaman will effect the healing with the aid of her spirits alone, and sometimes with the help of an herbalist. Minor ailments are generally treated in non-shamanic practical ways amongst our population.
With the improvement in health-care throughout the world, the primary function of shamans today generally is to look after the spiritual and subtle reality aspects of healing. In our western society they heal and cure physical ailments by marshalling the emotional and visual triggers in the brain to mobilize the body’s natural immune system to cure illnesses.
Shamanism is not therapy, nor can it be treated like it. By rectifying one imbalance, shamanism brings healing to the whole cosmic web, so that universal, not personal, healing is accomplished. Therapy does not address subtle reality in this way. In addition, shamanic healing is normally accomplished at one time, or over very few sessions: therapy often takes many sessions over many months. Therapy may sometimes be required after shamanic healing in the case of long-established dysfunctions, originating from ABUSIVE BACKGROUNDS…
The qualifications for healing under the principles of Shamanism are:
- A shared world-view that makes the diagnosis and naming process possible…being knowledgeable about the realistic professionalism of doctors, psychotherapists, and holistic healers.
- Positive personal qualities of the healer that facilitate the client’s recovery. (This is very important…if you as a healer are not positive and do not have a decent concept of SELF, you do not need to be healing others.)
- Be knowledgeable about the client expectations of recovery that assist the healing processes.
- Specific techniques, material and healing procedures and ethics that is appropriate to the illness and conducive to recovery.
Our part in the healing process is primarily a wish to be well and a willingness to cooperate with our allies to effect such a healing. We should not forget that healing can only take place if the subject wishes it. Surprisingly, some people actively retain illness and energy blockages, usually because it is more convenient or familiar to live in this way; illness can be worn as a badge of care or recognition, energy blockage can be a way of maintaining a selfish dictatorial regime whereby family and friends are subtly manipulated to provide the easiest life style. Imbalance can be so habitual that any healing would be regarded as a threatening change to be resisted at all costs.
Some of the following I want you to use as a check list in your personal life…to send me on a personal/confidential level…In other words, let me know how you are living and if you are addressing the following:
Health is wholeness: whatever is separated, divided or fragmented is unhealthy. The following factors are all considered to be CAUSES OF ILLNESS IN SHAMANISM:
(Only relate to these if you connect to these behaviors more than 50% of the time)
- Lack of order or cleanliness
- Neglect of proper boundaries
- Unethical or manipulative behavior
- Neglect of appropriate nutrition and nourishment.
- Loss, theft or relinquishing of vital power. (Do you relinquish your power to others who control your life?The following factors are related to imbalances of Spirit and affect our SOUL:
- Lack of self-respect
- Neglect of spiritual disciplines
- Addictive behavior
- Neglect of soul enriching food (live foods mostly)
- Loss, theft and relinquishing of the SOUL. (As above)
These above qualities should be answered in regard to SELF. Not someone else. As they do to you…How do you participate in the game?