What is Shamanism?

What is Shamanism?

Shamanism comes from many cultures and has been in existence for at least over 40,000 years. Shamans heal from the perspective that illness is a form of soul loss and/or spirit intrusion. Shamans define soul and spirit as our life force, which is the part that keeps us feeling fully alive and thriving. Soul loss and soul intrusion further causes a disconnect from our personal spiritual source known as our “spirit ally’s or guides”. Many shamanic cultures believe that we come here with at least two guardian spirits that take form as either power animals, angels or human-forms to guide lead us through life.

It is believed that when we suffer an emotional or physical trauma a piece of our soul flees the body in order to survive the experience. In other words, the pure essence we started life with as well as vital information found in memories leaves preventing us from total healing. The types of trauma that could cause soul loss in our culture would be from any kind of abuse: sexual, physical, or emotional. Other causes could be an accident, being in a war, being a victim of a terrorist act, acting against morals, being in a natural disaster, surgery, addictions, divorce or death of a loved one. Any event that causes shock could cause soul loss.

In psychology we call this condition dissociation. But in psychology we do not talk about what dissociates and where those parts go. In shamanism, we recognize dissociation as being a piece of the soul fragmenting from the bodies energy field then remaining in a state otherwise known as “non-ordinary reality”. The best explanation of non-ordinary reality would be what is known on one dimension as a dream- like state. Some shamanic cultures refer to this dimension as the dream time, and still others refer to it as the otherworld. In our culture, we experience this state by not feeling fully present in our everyday world.

There are many symptoms to soul loss. They include such things as gaps in memory, nightmares, numbing, ungrounded-ness, chronic depression, suicidal tendencies, grief that does not heal and on-going misfortune. The person does not feel fully in their body. You may have heard people use the expression “I am beside myself” or they simply haven’t been the same since a significant event. This reflects the possibility that soul loss occurred. Addiction is also another indication of soul loss or spirit intrusion.

When soul loss occurs, or when our vitality is weakened, it can also cause us to be susceptible to spirit intrusions. One of the most common forms of spirit intrusion we can experience is when someone is not only angry at us, but has the underlying thought of wishing us harm even if they don’t intend to act upon the thought. But there are other causes that are more esoteric in nature. Spirit intrusion typically shows up when there is localized pain or dull aches in the body that were not caused by injury nor go away with other forms of treatment. Sometimes this localized pain moves back and forth from one area of the body to another then back again. Intrusions typically are found in the neck or shoulder blade areas giving credence to the phrase “being stabbed in the back”

Shamans are not deemed certified at workshops. Shaman’s typically come into this work through personal experiences of near-death experiences, serious illness and/or trauma. Shamans may also be born in a family where there is a strong lineage of ancestral shamans. In my case, I was initiated into the shamanic path through a life-threatening illness, numerous surgeries on my hips as well as a near death experience when I was 27 years of age.

There are various forms of healing that Shamans perform. They include assisting in the retrieval of power animals and spirit guides, soul retrieval and assisting people to cross over at the time of death. When people experience long-term grief, transitioning of the deceased individual may still need to take place so that the living can return to a more peaceful existence. I have been working with Shamanism since 2000 and received my training under Sandra Ingerman and Amanda Foulger at the Foundation of Shamanic Studies ( www.shamanism.org ). I have also received Shamanic training in death and dying which assist with helping people in comas as well as helping people to transition in death. I also have been initiated through the Sirius Energy Healing System to perform psychic extractions which I incorporate along with my Shamanic work as well as my Reiki Energy Healing Practice.

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