“Shamanic healing [is] . . . about helping patients break through the psychic and emotional barriers that stand between illness and wellness.”
– Rabbi Gershon Winkler
Shamanic Healing deals with the spirit/soul, psychic, or energetic dimensions of physical, emotional, mental, and psychological well-being.
Many people seek out a shamanic practitioner when conventional treatments aren’t enough, but you needn’t have problems to benefit from shamanic healing. In indigenous societies, the shaman is/was the village doctor, psychologist, and wise person, keeping villagers healthy, bringing them wisdom and guidance, and helping them live their lives more fully.
Statements that alert shamanic practitioners to a need for help include:
- “I just don’t feel like myself anymore . . .”
- “I haven’t been the same ever since . . .”
- “I felt like I’d been stabbed in the back when …”
- “I feel like I lost a part of myself when . . .”
- “I sometimes feel empty inside . . .”
- “I feel like something in me broke when . . .”
- “It’s like someone/something has a hold on me . . .”
Clients typically report feeling lighter and unburdened, empowered and more “whole,” more focused and motivated, and excited about their life. The pain of traumatic experiences becomes diminished, and physical pains can be alleviated.
These changes are often immediate, but they also settle in over time. Clients occasionally feel physically or emotionally worse for a few days after a session since shamanic healing, like psychological work, can “bring things up.”
Expect a “standard” healing process to take two or three visits; more for serious challenges.
A shaman is a person who enters an altered state of consciousness (“journeys”) to access the spirit world to bring back healing, power, and information. The word “shaman” comes from Siberia; it means “one who sees in the dark” (the hidden realities), and widely refers to medicine women/men, healers, and seers. Shamans are guided by spirit allies in their work.
Shamanism is the oldest known form of spiritual healing, dating back 40,000-plus years. It’s existed in cultures world-wide, and the Bible and the Torah contain many examples of shamanism (loosely defined as “direct communication with spirit or a higher power”).
Common techniques include:
- Soul retrieval (bringing back parts of a client’s soul, lost to traumatic experiences)
- Power object and power animal retrieval (to restore attributes)
- Extraction and depossession (the removal of unwanted energies, non-sentient and sentient)
- Removing curses, habituated patterns, and “thoughtforms”
- “Clearing” houses and properties of unwanted energies
In addition to the practitioners listed on this site, here are resources for courses, information, and online practitioner directories. Note that neither the FSS nor SSP directories require specific credentials for practitioners to be listed, so types and levels of training vary widely.
The Shamanic Teachers Alliance – www.shamanicteachers.com
These practitioners are graduates of Sandra Ingerman’s two-year training. She’s a licensed marriage and family therapist and a board-certified expert on traumatic stress.
The Foundation for Shamanic Studies – www.shamanism.org
Founded by cultural anthropologist Michael Harner, the FSS is largely credited for popularizing shamanism in the U.S. He distilled the common practices of shamans world-wide into what he calls “core shamanism.”
The Society for Shamanic Practitioners – www.shamansociety.org/
SSP is another respected organization. Its goal is to support the re-emergence of shamanic wisdom into modern western culture.
Traditional shamans are apprentices to experienced practitioners, or inherit their calling through lineage. In these cases, finding a practitioner is less about credentials and more about word-of-mouth and trusting your instincts.
A number of books about shamanic practice have been authored by people with mainstream psychological or medical training. They include:
- “Change Your Story, Change Your Life” by Carl Greer, PhD, PsyD, psychologist, and author
- “Could Shamanic Healing be the Answer You’ve Been Looking for?” by Laura Eraser, in Prevention Magazine, http://www.prevention.com/mind-body/emotional-health/how-shamanic-healing-works
- “Healing Stories: My Journey from Mainstream Psychiatry toward Spiritual Healing” by Robert Alcorn, M.D., psychiatrist, and author
- “Journeying: Where Shamanism and Psychology Meet” by Jeannett M. Gagan, PhD, psychologist, and author
- “Lessons in Courage: Peruvian Shamanic Wisdom for Everyday Life” by Oscar Miro-Quesada Solevo, M.A., clinical psychologist, and author
- “One Spirit Medicine: Ancient Ways to Ultimate Wellness” by Alberto Villoldo, PhD, psychologist, and author
- “Shaman Wisdom, Shaman Healing” (co-authored) by Michael Samuels, M.D., cancer specialist
- “The Shaman’s Body” by Arnold Mindell, PhD, psychologist, and author
- “Shamanism and Spirituality in Therapeutic Practice” by Christa MacKinnon, psychologist, and author
- “Shapeshifting into Higher Consciousness” by Llyn Roberts, psychotherapist, and author
- “Spirited Medicine: Shamanism in Contemporary Healthcare” by Cecile Carson, M.D., and the Society for Shamanic Practitioners
- “Walking in Light: The Everyday Empowerment of a Shamanic Life” by Sandra Ingerman, psychotherapist, author of several books, and winner of the 2007 Peace Award from the Global Foundation for Integrative Medicine
- “Warrior’s Return: Restoring the Soul After War” by Edward Tick, PhD, psychotherapist, and author
- “The World of Shamanism” by Roger Walsh, M.D., PhD, professor of psychiatry, philosophy, and anthropology
Authored by Eric Weinstein