Shamans serve a lot of roles within their communities. It’s a life path that comes with considerable sacrifices of time and energy — not only do shamans have to live with one foot in ordinary reality, and one foot in the spirit world, they have to serve as diviners, spirit communicators, maintainers of the balance between humans and their environment, and healers.
Shamanic healing is an ancient, complex technique that encompasses everything from herbalism to spirit work.
What is Shamanic Healing?
Shamanic healing is a holistic healing practice that seeks to treat multiple facets of an individual: physical, mental, and emotional.
Shamanic healing isn’t just for illnesses, either. Some imbalances within the spirit can manifest as bad habits, difficulty with relationships, or even difficulty with money.
Drumming, chanting, ecstatic dance, soul retrieval, and shamanic journeys have all been reported to have beneficial effects on participants, with some people experiencing a degree of relief immediately afterward.
Some shamanic healing methods involve herbal medicine or entheogen use, but many don’t. This makes the latter suitable for combining with conventional medicine when necessary.
While the shaman can identify where an imbalance is, develop a plan for correcting it, and make adjustments on the spirit plane, the final healing has to come from within the patient.
A person has to want to heal, and be willing to put in the work to maintain this balance, for a shamanic healing to be complete.
How Does Shamanic Healing Work?
Shamanism is based on a set of animistic beliefs. This means that all things have a spirit aspect. These spirits can impact things in the mundane world, and can be impacted in turn.
This being the case, there are many spiritual components to illness. Shamanic healing works by discovering the spiritual roots of a problem, and attempting to correct it. Illnesses are seen as the effects of an imbalance somewhere within a person.
Soul retrieval is one notable example. Soul retrieval works based on the idea that the human vital essence is capable of breaking off bits of itself when in a traumatic situation, as a protective mechanism.
This lets the majority of the soul escape, but losing pieces of the vital essence can have long-term impacts on a person’s psyche. People may feel disconnected, anxious, or depressed. They can experience chronic pain, phobias, and other serious problems.
The shaman undertakes a soul retrieval to go into the spirit world and locate these missing pieces, bringing them back so healing can begin.
Shamans also believe that spirits can be a direct cause of illness. A shaman might go into the spirit world to divine the cause of a disease, and to consult with the spirits of plants to help find a cure.
Types of Shamanic Healing
There is no set doctrine or rules for shamanic healing. Shamans go into non-ordinary reality to interact with the energies and spirits there.
While there are some recognized types of shamanic healing, the actual healing sessions can vary tremendously from shaman to shaman and subject to subject.
Some common types of shamanic healing techniques are:
- Divination. Divination is the acquisition of secret knowledge. Since illnesses are considered to be effects of a deeper spiritual problem, shamans use divination in order to discover the root cause of an issue.
- Soul retrieval. As mentioned above, soul retrieval is a healing method that seeks to reunite a person’s vital essence with pieces of themselves that were lost to trauma.
- Ecstatic dance. Ecstatic dance is a type of dance where there are no set steps — participants’ movements are entirely guided by the rhythm of the song. Dancers move in an easy, flowing style, making this a form of moving meditation. It’s helpful for releasing ego, reducing stress, and helping participants connect with those around them.
- Shamanic journeys. Not all imbalances are caused by missing pieces of a person’s vital essence. Sometimes, there’s a different energy at play. Shamans can guide others on journeys into the spirit worlds, helping them identify the root cause of their trouble and take an active role in their own healing.
- Breathwork. Shamanic breathwork is a method of controlled breathing. Different breathing patterns can create an altered state of consciousness. In this altered state, it’s possible for people to tap into parts of themselves that need release or healing.
All of these techniques are just the beginning. These are all tools for shamans to move energy, remove blockages, and discover the core of a problem.
After that, it’s up to the individual to dig deep and engage with the healing process. This might involve conventional therapy, but can also involve meditation, journaling, and other wellness techniques.
Benefits of Shamanic Healing
Shamanic healing offers multiple benefits across all aspects of a person’s being. After a healing session, some people report an immediate reduction in stress and increase in feelings of joy and connection.
Over the long term, it can also serve as a catalyst for healing multiple deep-seated issues.
Some of the reported benefits of shamanic healing include:
- A reduction in pain. Shamanic techniques trigger an altered state of consciousness, which can be helpful for mitigating physical pain.
- Feelings of connection. Many people report feeling more rooted in their bodies and engaged with the world.
- The ability to make better decisions.
- Feelings of joy.
- The release of negative habits.
- A stronger connection to their life’s purpose. After healing trauma and resolving spiritual and emotional issues, many people receive a sense of clarity and purpose.
- A stronger connection to the divine. Engaging with the spirit world fosters a deeper relationship with spirituality as a whole.
- Increased power. When people take charge of their healing process, resolve energetic blockages, and play an active role in improving their lives, they often feel more powerful.
Getting Started With Shamanic Healing
Shamanic healing is a very deep subject with a history that stretches back for millennia. All around the world, people have developed their own cultural ways of engaging with the spiritual aspects of mental, emotional, and physical disease.
While there are a lot of resources in books and online that describe shamanic techniques and beliefs, there’s really no substitute for firsthand experience.
The best way to get started with shamanic healing is to find a shaman you can trust, and experience the healing for yourself. Attend an ecstatic dance group, drumming session, or shamanic journey. Undergo a soul retrieval. Experience the healing effects of shamanism with the guidance and protection of a seasoned shaman first.
Once you’ve felt what shamanic healing can do, you can look for a teacher to educate you in how to discover and correct the root cause of physical, mental, and spiritual issues.
The spirit world is much like the mundane world — it’s not always a safe or pleasant place to be. An experienced shaman can show you how to communicate with spirits, remove energetic blockages, and perform the rituals you need to bring about healing for people, communities, and nature as a whole.
Shamanic healing is a loose descriptor for a wide variety of techniques for handling spiritual energy. In the shamanic viewpoint, illness, bad habits, addictions, and other of life’s difficulties arise as the result of a deeper imbalance.
By engaging with this imbalance on a soul level, the shaman helps the healing process begin.
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