Shamanism is the oldest form of spirituality and forms a large part of the foundations of our cross cultural folklore and heritage. It is founded in a deep sense of our place in nature. It is not in itself a religion and as such does not conflict with any religious practice.
In shamanic culture illness and dis-ease is believed to be caused by either power loss or soul loss.
Power loss occurs when we disconnect from the natural world around us, and lose our sense of interconnectedness. We need to remember that we are a part of nature as reconnecting brings power back to us. Think for example of how refreshed and recharged you feel after a gentle stroll in a beautiful natural space.
Soul loss happens when we undergo a traumatic event. In shamanic culture it is believed that parts of us can fracture off at these times, and literally flee. It can also occur from repeatedly denying and repressing parts of ourselves, often to survive difficult childhoods, or adult relationships; eventually these parts become lost to us. Soul loss feels like some spark is missing. Its symptoms are many, and include depression, addictions, loss of direction and motivation, and physical health problems.
Both soul loss and power loss leave a gap in us. This space leaves us vulnerable to other things getting in. It’s a bit like when our immune system is strong it can fight off viruses and bacteria, but if it is weak we are susceptible to infection; so too if our soul and power is weak we are susceptible to taking things on that are unhelpful to us. Often these are things like hurts, rejections or criticisms from other people, or other people’s negative thoughts and beliefs. In shamanism these are known as intrusions, and the process of removing them is known as extraction.
Shamanic healing involves removing intrusions and retrieving power, and/or missing soul parts (soul retrieval), as appropriate. This returns the person to a sense of wholeness and strength. The work is done through a process which is known as a shamanic journey.
The therapeutic shamanic approach is client centred. It is not just about someone administering shamanic techniques to you. It combines traditional shamanic healing techniques with counselling theory and skills and uses these to empower you and enable you to tap into your own healing resources.
What is shamanic healing helpful for?
Shamanic healing can help with any number of mental, emotional or physical issues. As mentioned above in shamanic culture it is believed that the reason we become ill (be that physically or in other ways) is because of soul or power loss. Symptoms of soul or power loss vary widely but can include:
- a sense of somehow being incomplete; that something is ‘missing’
- feelings of numbness or flatness; of just going through the motions
- feelings of hopelessness, apathy and indifference; like a spark is missing
- a sense of being disconnected from life or what is around you; as if you are living in a dream
- depression, ranging from mild, to moderate, through to severe
- feeling lost, indecisive and aimless
- procrastination; time wasting; or finding it hard to sustain focus or effort
- a lack of confidence and self-belief
- having a strong inner critic who puts you down and is always on your back
- phobias and anxieties; fearfulness
- missing memories (where have the memories gone, and why did they go?)
- addictions or other compulsive behaviours and/or thought patterns
- a sense of never having really recovered from a past event
- repeatedly returning to a person, location or behaviour that is unhealthy for you
- inability to move on from an issue or event, despite efforts to do so
- finding it hard to (re)invest in the future with enthusiasm and optimism
- feelings of grief, fear, anger or rage that you cannot seem to shake off
What’s involved in a shamanic healing session?
Sessions can take place face to face in the comfort of my treatment room or we can organise a distant session either by skype or telephone.
When you first contact me I will ask you to provide me with a little information about the issue you are currently facing. This allows me to decide whether the therapeutic shamanism approach is appropriate for you, and whether or not I have the right skills as a practitioner to help you at this time. This can either be by telephone or email.
If we then decide to work together I will ask you for some more in depth information regarding the issue you are facing, and about your life history. We will also arrange a time for your healing session.
The healing session takes around 2-3 hours. The first section of your session is dedicated to expanding on the information you have given me and gaining your permission for the shamanic work which needs to be done.
The next section is for the shamanic journey process which usually takes around 30 minutes. If your session is face-to-face you will be encouraged to lie down, relax, and listen to the drumming whilst I undertake the healing work. If your session is done by telephone or Skype I will hang up at this point until the journey is finished and then call you back to round off your session.
In the final part of your session I will share with you the details of the journey and help you unpack (make sense) of the healing which has happened. I recommend you bring a notepad and pen for recording this information as you may want to further explore some of the metaphor surrounding your journey once you get home.