Shamanism and Healing

Ancient practices for a modern world

The Basics of Core Shamanism

My shaman's drum @NanLT

My shaman’s drum @NanLT

Is there a place in this modern world for shamans? Yes, I believe there is. People need the wisdom and healing which shamanic healing can bring now more than ever before.

Mention of shamans and shamanism perhaps brings to your mind an image of a Native American medicine man, or perhaps a healer from a primitive tribe in the South American rain forest. Your vision would not be incorrect, but it may also not be fully correct.

Anthropological studies have found there are commonalities between shamanic practices around the world. The medicine man of North America, the shaman of the steppes of Russia, and the healer of South America have for hundreds of years used similar methods for accessing the Spirit World. Common elements include a belief in alternate worlds, a belief that through training and practice a shaman can purposefully travel to these worlds, and a belief in spirit helpers who are able to guide us and protect us in life.

Dr Michael Harner, founder and president of the Foundation for Shamanic Studies, has called these similarities “Core Shamanism”.

The Way of the Shaman

The Worlds of the Shaman

In Core Shamanism there are three “worlds” to which the shaman may journey. This is the world of basic human needs and emotions. It is here that the shaman may journey when seeking guidance from animal spirits, and here where the shaman will likely journey the most.

Those who have journeyed to the Lower World describe it as a place filled with forests and trees, watery rivers and oceans, jungles, mountains and other land features. It is here in the Lower World that Power Animals dwell.

Middle World
The Middle world is a bit like the world we are standing in now, but a step removed. Sometimes it can be called the Astral World.

Mandala Drum @NanLT

Mandala Drum @NanLT

This is where people go when they talk about travelling on the astral plane. The shamanic healer will make Middle World journeys when seeing to connect with another on the physical plane, or when seeking to watch over another.

Upper World
This is the world of Angels and Ascended Masters, Gods and Goddess, The shaman will journey here with seeking guidance from these beings, or when seeking wisdom on matters related to the Soul.

Those who have journeyed to the Upper World describe it as having a somewhat softened and ethereal appearance. My own experience is that it is a place that is somewhat blurred and softened, but very bright.

What causes illness?

Shamanic healers believe illness can stem from three causes: power loss, soul loss, or soul intrusion. The techniques used by a Shamanic Healer to deal with each of these causes can aid you in finding healing on a physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual level.

Power Loss

Rattles @NanLT

Rattles @NanLT

If you are feeling run down, tired all the time, and just can’t seem to find the motivation to move forward, then there is a good chance that you have experienced a loss of personal power.

Shamanic healers believe that power loss is one of the leading causes of physical and emotional illness. This happens when you have become disconnected from your Power, whether you believe that to be in the form of a Power Animal, Spirit, Guardian Angel, or other entity.

Signs you may be experiencing a power loss:
Chronic depression
Suicidal thoughts
Chronic illness
Chronic misfortunes

How shamanic healing can help
The shamanic healer will work with you, journeying into the Spirit Worlds to retrieve a Power Animal or Guardian Spirit to help return your Power to you.

When I do Power Retrieval Work, I journey into the Lower World where I ask to be shown the Power Animal you most need right now in your life. Once I have found your Power Animal, I speak to it and ask if it is willing to return to guide and protect you at this time.

Once I have found a Power Animal willing to return to you, I ask if it has any messages or gifts it would wish to give you. Most often, the Animal has both. I then return from the Lower World and through ritual and ceremony return your Power Animal to you.

As part of the ceremony, I use energy healing to help anchor your newly returned Power into your body. After, I will speak to you of what messages and gifts your Power Animal has for you.

Case study – Power Retrieval

When I do journey work for a client, I often bring back messages and gifts which are completely meaningless to me, but prove to be deeply profound and moving for my client.

Albert Bierstadt - Rocky Mountain Goats

Albert Bierstadt – Rocky Mountain Goats

My client here is a young woman who has dealt with chronic illness for some time. She felt she had experienced power loss and asked for help in returning that power to herself.

I journeyed into the Lower World and was taken to a mountain by my own Animal Spirit Guide. There, on the mountain I saw a Mountain Goat.

After observing for some time, I was able to move closer and ask Mountain Goat if he was this woman’s Power Animal. He responded that he was.

I asked if he had any gifts for this woman, and he replied that he had. He then told me what that gift was. I asked if he had any messages, and he relayed one message for me to give my client.

I then returned with Mountain Goat and blew him into the woman. I used Reiki to help him to anchor within her soul.

When I finished I spoke to this woman, telling her about Mountain Goat and the gift and message he had brought with him. as I spoke, she began to cry.

The gift Mountain Goat brought with him was sure-footedness. The message was “Trust your feet will always land you where they should.”

The tears were because this woman has multiple sclerosis (MS), and has for some time lived in fear of falling because of losing her footing.

Knowing that she has Mountain Goat, and the gift of sure-footedness has helped her to become more confident when going out in public.

Image credit: Albert Bierstadt [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Soul Loss

Balinese Shiva tears seed rattle @NanLT

Balinese Shiva tears seed rattle @NanLT

Any time you experience an event that moves you outside of yourself it can lead to a loss of part of your soul. These events can be major or minor. An event from childhood that you felt was particularly traumatic at the time may not seem all that significant to you as an adult. Soul loss happens as a way of protecting the soul. Some causes of soul loss can include any form of abuse, wars, accidents, being in a natural disaster, acting against your moral code, or the death of someone you love.

In indigenous cultures where shamanic work is common, the shaman can do work immediately after a traumatic emotional or physical event to guide the Soul back home.

Unfortunately, in most societies today, Soul Loss is neither acknowledged nor understood. People can go years or decades knowing something is missing, but never really being sure what that missing piece might be. Instead, they turn to drugs, alcohol, possibly even self-help groups unending in an attempt to fill this missing space within themselves.

Soul loss can also happen when you give a part of yourself to another, or it can occur when someone else consciously or unconsciously steals a part of your soul from you.

Symptoms of soul loss include:
Feeling incomplete
Inability to move forward on an issue
Lost memories
Feeling of loss of control
Feeling “I feel like a part of me died when…”
Feeling “I feel like he/she stole a piece of me when…”

How can shamanism help?
There are different techniques for dealing with soul loss and soul theft.

During a Soul Retrieval, I work with you and journey into the Spirit World where I seek out the lost piece of your soul that is ready to return to you. Once I find that piece, I do what is needed to bring it back. In the case of soul theft, it could be that I will need to retrieve your lost soul piece from the person who stole it from you.

Upon returning, I do energy work to help reintegrate your new soul within you, and I give you any messages or gifts which your Soul may have. It may be as well that there are things you need to do in order to help this returned part of your soul to fully remain.

A part of the soul lost during childhood may ask that you take the time to play more, for instance. A part of your soul lost because of abuse may not be willing to return or to stay if you continue to live in an abusive situation.

Soul Return can cause great upheaval, bringing about change which you may not be fully prepared for. For this reason, while most people today have experienced soul loss multiple times I tend to only bring back one or two missing soul pieces during a single Soul Retrieval session. Once those newly returned pieces have been fully integrated, then work can be done to find and return other lost parts of your soul.

When soul theft is unintentional
Sometimes, soul theft is unintentional. I know I was greatly disturbed the first time I did journey work to see what pieces of other people’s souls I had obtained over time. I have worked for over 2 decades as a healer, and over time I had either unintentionally taken or subconsciously been given pieces of hundreds of people’s souls.

As I have indicated above, the return of missing soul pieces can trigger great upheaval in a person’s life. This is not really something I would want someone to have to deal with without advance warning, and after so many years it would not be feasible to approach every person I have ever helped as a healer. So instead, I did work to release these acquired soul pieces to the Guardian Spirits of these people, asking only that their soul parts be kept safe until each was ready for it to return.

Andean rattle

Andean rattle

Spiritual Intrusions

In simple terms, intrusions are those things from the world around us that become lodged in our spiritual bodies. Many times, these intrusions are able to get in after we experience some sort of power or soul loss. They can also occur as a result of negative thinking, either our own or the thoughts of someone else being directed at us.

Intrusions can manifest as localised illnesses or pains such as from stress ulcers or back pains.

Symptoms of spiritual intrusions
Localised pain
Localised illness
Some forms of cancer
Chronic anger
Chronic depression

How shamanism can help
After identifying that an intrusion is contributing to the causes of your illness, the shamanic healer works to remove that intrusion using a technique called Extraction.

When I do extractions of spiritual intrusions, I work with the client and journey into the Middle World where I can see the client from outside “real” time. I then look to find where an intrusion has entered the client’s spiritual body. Working directly with the client, I aid them in removing the intrusion and releasing it.

I involve the client in this work, because then they are able to own their healing. It because something they have done consciously rather than something which is being done to them or for them.

Once removed, I will place the extracted energy either into incense smoke to be released, or I will place it in water which can then be returned to the earth by pouring it into a river or other running water.

Cord Cutting

When we form a relationship with someone, an attachment is created. Sometimes, these attachments are good and useful for us. Sometimes these attachments are normal, for instance a parent will form a natural attachment with her child, two people who are in a positive healthy relationship will also have an attachment to each other.

Energy Cords

Energy Cords

What happens though when the attachment isn’t healthy?

The mother who cannot allow her child to grow up and leave home will create an unhealthy attachment to that child.

People in abusive relationships, both the abuser and the one being abused, often have unhealthy attachments to each other making it difficult and seemingly impossible to leave.

You can have attachments to past-life experiences or events which continue to cause problems in moving onwards in your current life.

How can shamanic healing help
By journeying to the spiritual world, I can help you to identify and locate these spiritual attachments. Many times, they will manifest as cords, connecting you to another.

Working with you, I aid you in locating these cords and helping you to cut and release them with love.

After a cord cutting, you will find that you are able to finally release past abusive relationships, You will find that the other you were attached to is no longer able to hurt you emotionally, though they may still try.

You will be able to let your children grow and become fully functioning adults in their own right.

When combined with other shamanic work, releasing these attachments can help you to grow and become a fuller, healthier person.





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  1. Pingback: Oracle Readings Using Amulets of the Goddess | Writings of a Pagan Witch

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