I closed my eyes. With a sound somewhere between a hiss and a spit, he sprayed my face with a liquid that smelt a lot like the cheap stuff that the down-on-their-luck use to soften the rough edges of a tough life...there I was, in all my glory, stripped down to my thong and bra, in front of perfect strangers, eyes closed, arms extended, faith intact. No, I wasn’t working the pole at a strip joint, but rather was being worked over by a traditional healer, who was praying and chanting and working really hard to heal the results of some bad choices, hidden fears, and unresolved conflicts that had piled up over the years.
What is shamanic healing?
Shamanic healing is an ancient healing art that connects you to nature, the spirit world, and the present…or simply put, to your now, in all senses of the word.
In shamanism, everything is alive and has a spirit: the rocks and trees and waterfalls, as well as the animals and humans. For the shamans, the two worlds, physical and spiritual are but two sides of the same coin, two different aspects of the same reality.
Just as in the material world which we see and experience daily with our eyes which has all sorts of people, plants and creatures roaming about, the spirit world has its own animals, people, mythical creatures, and positive and negative entities who are all in spirit form.
While Nature, for the shamans, is deeply interconnected with a cosmos, a universe, and with the spirit world, the practice of shamanic healing itself remains grounded in its physical environment, the earth. Plants, animal life, and the elements are an integral part of the shamanic healing process, from diagnosis to remedy.
In essence, shamanic healing follows one principle/belief: that the source of all illnesses and diseases is first and foremost to be found in our energy body: the sea of essence that regulates our moods, emotions and intuition. The shaman acts as an intermediary, a go-between and a messenger to the spirit world to discover the nature of the problem and to facilitate a cure. Very often, the first step of any shamanic healing session will be an energetic cleansing which will take different forms in different cultures.
The world of shamanic healing did not come to me by conscious choice; I did not seek it out. In fact, I had heard about shamanism years before, but it had not sparked my interest. At the time, I was in touch with a few Westerners who called themselves practicing shamans. One had told me about my power animals, and the other had drummed for me to the spirit world.
I realize today that I was not connected to Nature in any way at the time when I first heard of shamanism; hence a cosmology based on Nature was most certainly not likely to speak to me deeply. I was a city-girl, and had a relationship with Nature based on an expanding fear of everything in a natural setting! Indeed the more disconnected you are from your physical environment, the more this environment scares you.
I was first invited into the world of shamanic healing in Ecuador through the sacred brew of the medicinal plant ayahuasca. I had been involved for a number of years on a self-healing path, which mainly revolved around introspection; now I had the potential to move ahead even further with this medicinal plant, accompanied by the healers who use it.
What started out in January 2007 as an exotic chapter on my self-healing path, grew into an intense relationship with ayahuasca, shamanic healing, and Nature. Shamanic healing is not the only practice I use to heal my body and soul, but it is fully integrated in my overall healing approach. This new relationship has affected my life intensely to the point where I now seek Nature’s presence in my daily life.
Shamanic healing is closely aligned with communing with and encountering Nature as the source of all life, and also our own interconnectedness with all of Nature.
Shamanism draws its power from Nature and her spirits; in fact shamanism and Nature are one. The Siberian shaman, the Native American shaman or Amazon shaman are all drawing their Knowledge, their initiations, their medicinal plants directly from Nature. Real shamans hang out in the woods, in the waterfalls, in the jungle, in the cold mountains…basically anywhere where you will have enough nature, enough landscape and enough of a physical challenge to find them.
"In the beginning was the word." Nature is that word. This infinitely self-adumbrating, fractal, syntactical hallucination with an infinite number of facets for potential regarding and self-regarding.
As Terence McKenna notes, in slightly confusing language, in the above quote, Nature is both self-sustaining and self-organizing, while seemingly unconscious, at least to most of us.
The reason why Nature successfully sustains itself, unlike humans for instance, is because Nature gives each and everything its just place, its right place, in perfect balance given the variables at hand. Nature moves to interconnect: interconnecting with the existence of All that is “at stake” from the roots of a tree to the oxygen that the tree will release.
In other words, Nature takes into account all life, be it plant, human or animal, that is involved in each particular context/situation, in making its “decisions”, which seem designed to bring about and maintain a harmony and equilibrium that is so elusive to us humans at times.
In my opinion, shamanism has a lot to offer our Western society as it can help us reconnect to our organic world. When we surround ourselves with computers, cell phones, televisions and other technological gadgets, as entertaining or useful as they may be to fill up our minds, we forget about our bodies and souls which need to connect frequently to the natural world in which we live in.
One of the greatest secrets of self-healing is shamanic healing; shamanic healing is a holistic healing, a comprehensive approach that looks at every aspect of your being, not just the symptom(s) or the body part(s) that hurt.
In October 2008, after having been hit by a pickup truck while crossing a street, I was told that I had a torn ligament in my knee. Several conventional medicine practitioners, including an orthopedic surgeon, claimed that my torn knee ligament would not regenerate, because ligaments in general can not regenerate. The orthopedic surgeon had an invasive surgical procedure in mind for later on if the pain became intolerable.
I did not have the surgery. I cleansed my aura of his limited beliefs about the power of the human body to regenerate with help from the spiritual and plant worlds. I combined my strong healing intent with a variety of herbal potions, plant baths, creams and shamanic healing ceremonies.
By October 2009, my osteopath could no longer find the ligament tear he had located with his hands a year before; I had already resumed my regular activities, including yoga, a few months after the accident. From time to time, if I put a lot of force on my knees, I may feel a slight pain, a reminder, something I did not have prior to the accident. I am still walking towards 100% recovery, and I believe it is feasible with natural healing practices, and a focused intent.
Shamanism is not for everyone, but everyone could use one good shamanic healing once in their life.
As I type these last words, I am back in Manhattan, an urban jungle with its charm, and I reminisce about my times with the shaman healers and the Amazon; only God knows how much I miss it all! Since I was a child, I have been looking to connect with the magical mist that is present on this planet, but unseen and unfelt by most of us. It was only after I arrived in the jungle, cursing the Amazon for her physical challenges, and the shamans for their wretched wood-houses and uncomfortable settings, that I finally reconnected with the Life Force…
I could feel Her, hear Her, and talk to Her.