Years ago if someone had told me I would be practicing a form of Shamanic healing, I would not have believed it. The entire notion of Shamanism spoke to a kind of magic that I sort of believed existed, but which was definitely beyond my experience or capacity to practice myself.
In fact, whilst there is an element of Shamanism that is certainly magical, it is nonetheless grounded in principles and practices that are accessible to everyone. For some practitioners, it is possible to use it therapeutically (with time and practice).
In my case, I came to Shamanic practice through my studies in sacred sexuality, in which I learned de-armourning. The context of my learning was to move life force energy (kundalini) up through the body primarily to heal sexual dysfunctions, and increase sensation. Today, I use this “Shamanic” practice in order to release emotional, physiological, or psychological constriction, holding, and blockages by physically applying pressure points and doing energy work (de-armouring). I don’t usually refer to this as Shamanic, although its heritage is indeed partly that. More relevantly, some people have such a Shamanic experience, such as out-of-body feelings, energy orgasm, rushes of energy, visions, that I thought it may be worth explaining Shamanism and Shamanic healing.
Origins of Shamanism
Shamanic healing originates in early traditional cultures of native peoples the world over. Shamans were, and still are, spiritual leaders in their communities and tribes. Although most well known for its role in indigenous cultures, Shamanism is practiced the world over. In essence, the Shamanic worldview holds nature, spirit, and human life as being deeply interconnected.
Traditionally, the Shaman’s role is to bridge the spirit world and the human world by going between these worlds, or dimensions, in order to find information needed for healing. Modern day Shamans are no different, accessing altered states of consciousness in order to bring information and wisdom. Today, more and more people are turning to Shamanic practitioners as an alternative to conventional medicine, and as a form of complementary therapy.
Rituals, energy, bodywork
Shamans typically lead rituals to go into another state of consciousness, or help others do so. Often this involves medicinal herbs and/or Shamanic drumming.
One important concept in Shamanic practice is that the soul has many aspects or parts, of which some can become lost or detached due to trauma. Soul retrieval involves reuniting a person’s soul parts. For a longer explanation of this, please read my blog on soul loss and kundalini energy. Here is an excerpt:
The Shamanic concept referred to here is soul loss; the idea is that at the moment of trauma, a part of our ‘self’, our psyche, remains locked in the past. Thereafter, emotionally and psychologically, there is restrained growth or even a shutting-down, and an endless resonance in our lives and bodies—which we experience as depression, addiction, or constriction in some manner. Whether due to war, sexual or emotional abuse, grief, or much else, we abandon part of ourselves: the part that hurts too much to bear.
A client might present as depressed, suffering from anxiety, memory loss, or low energy. The Shaman’s job is to find the part of the person that experienced an event which led to the current state. The idea is that by re-uniting this soul-aspect with the whole soul, the person can then experience a sense of wholeness and return to a state of balance.
Sacred, Magical, Instant?
Shamanic healing can be powerful because it bypasses analysis, and can go straight to the place where there is holding in order to achieve a release, often without needing a lengthy conversation or debrief. Thus, as a means of clearing the body, it is direct and can create a very quick healing. Yet, I have found it most effective when used with other kinds of healing. A practitioner who is also a compassionate listener, and has some change-focused skills like NLP or hypnotherapy, can greatly increase the likelihood of a lasting outcome. For this reason, even when a session is dedicated to de-armouring, we bring in other tools as and when it’s needed.