When I was 28, I had what spiritual teachers call an awakening. This was a profound experience. Not only was it the catalyst of my spiritual journey, it redefined my concept of who I was.
It made me realize that I needed healing at a very deep level, and as grateful as I was to the medical professionals I knew, I could tell they weren’t hearing me when I explained what was happening. I yearned for a different kind of healing that was outside of their scope of practice – a healing of my soul. There simply wasn’t a medication out there that could fix my emotional, confusing experience.
This required an “inside job.” Though I knew it would be intense, I was ready to dig deeper into the chaos. And I knew I had to do it without traditional medical intervention.
During this time, I found a book called Soul Retrieval by Sandra Ingerman. It gave me a deep reverence, not only for Mother Earth, but the medicine men and medicine women, or shamans, who committed themselves to this soulful healing technique. In this particular technique, the shaman helps journeyers retrieve fragments of their soul and bring them back to wholeness.
Through the years, I’ve found there are many techniques, just as there are many types of shamanism. They vary based on the part of the world, the culture involved, belief systems, etc. They also differ based on their medicines, or healing techniques, including ceremonial dances, shamanic journeys (meditations) and the use of teas, tinctures and balms.
Types of shamanism include Native American shamanism, Reiki shamanism, Hawaiian shamanism, core (or universal) shamanism – just to name a few. For example, Dr. Alberto Villoldo, Ph.D., of Shaman, Healer, Sage gives wonderful descriptions of his initiations with both mountain shamans in the Andes and shamans in the Amazon jungles of Peru.
Shamans are the caretakers, the guardians, the stewards of Mother Earth. They are aware of our symbiotic relationship with the planet, and they see humans as miniature versions of Her. So, they draw on the earth’s power to help them during healings, which cover all levels: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.
Recently, Beverly Rowland (a fellow HIW practitioner) and I took a workshop on Core Shamanism. It was created by Amara Honeck, a shamanic teacher and intuitive counselor at the Foundation for Shamanic Studies. This workshop was created around Michael Harner’s The Way of the Shaman. Harner founded the Foundation for Shamanic Studies in 1979.
The weekend concentrated on the classical practices of traditional shamanism, including rock divination (reading rocks to get answers and information) and shamanic journeying, a type of meditation where you connect with the spiritual dimension to divine deeper information about your soul.
During our journeys, we shook our rattles to the beat of drums, and our goal was to find our personal soul songs. To aid our quest, we asked ourselves questions like:
• How does my soul sound?
• What does it look like?
• How does my soul signature resonate?
• Who am I without my masks?
The answers to these questions helped guide me even further on my path. And it made me grateful that shamanism has made a recent resurgence. I’ve known about its power since my awakening, and to this day it is my constant companion, reminding me of my symbiotic relationship with Mother Earth. Her wind caresses my skin, her sun keeps me warm, her rivers and oceans keep me cool, while her solid ground calms me.
During these times of intense energy and un-ease, may we remember to let Mother Earth heal us. And through her may our ancestors of shamanism walk beside us, whispering through the wind, guiding us with every step.