What is Healing?
Healing within the context of shamanic work is defined differently than how modern Western culture defines it. Healing is measured by an increase in a client’s well being, in a new found sense of peace, or in finding empowerment with which to live their life. Healing is transformative to a person’s life and often, but not always, will manifest itself physically.
The shaman’s primary role in the healing process is to broker the space in which healing occurs. In actuality, it is the client in conjunction with their spiritual belief system and its archetypes that perform the healing. The shaman holds the space—sacred space—in which the healing takes place; the client is always in control.
Although you’re likely to want to focus on a particular issue, it is best to remain open to your heart’s unfolding as you engage in this work. The reason for this is that Spirit and our own souls often have their own agendas. This can lead to profound, even surprising, results and unimagined opportunities for personal growth. A sincere desire to heal also plays an important role. Healing can take courage because it can mean letting go of old patterns to which we have become accustomed. Only you can determine whether you are ready to let go of an old pattern that may no longer serve you. The client is always in full control.
Shamanism: An Overview
Shamanism is not a religion. It is a healing modality which shamans have practiced for thousands of years. Shamans believe we have two bodies: a spiritual body and a physical body. The spiritual body is made up of light, or vibrating energy, whereas the physical body is made up of matter. When the spiritual body is out of balance a person is likely to have a predisposition for attracting similar events, conditions or persons to their lives. When a person’s spiritual body is out of balance one might experience their physical body being out of sorts, too.
Shamanic healing is based on this understanding. Specifically, shamans recognize that illness whether physical, mental, or emotional has a spiritual origin called an imprint. Imprints—the source of an imbalance—are kinds of spiritual wounds to the spiritual body. These wounds are often caused by some traumatic or difficult experience from a person’s past. If left untended, imprints can develop into recurring physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual conditions.
The shaman works to clear these imprints which act as obstacles that can hold individuals back from living their fullest and healthiest lives. Shamans recognize that once the spiritual body is healed the physical body can more readily follow. Shamans refer to the spiritual body as the luminous energy field. All living organisms possess one. The luminous energy field surrounding the human body is sometimes referred to as the aura or soul.
All shamanic healing is performed on the energetic, or soul, level. This is why the shaman’s work is sometimes referred to as energy medicine. The best time to accomplish energy medicine is before energy has organized itself into matter; that is, when it is still energy and is in its most transmutable form.
The Four Principle Modalities
The shaman has four principle healing modalities. They are: the illumination, Rites of Passage, soul retrieval, and the extraction.
The illumination process is the core practice in shamanic healing. The illumination process is used to clear the luminous energy field of negative and toxic emotions that have become embedded as imprints and which still inform us on an unconscious level. Imprints are formed in the luminous energy field when the negative emotions that accompany trauma are not healed at the time they occur. These imprints—sometimes referred to as karma—predispose us to repeating or attracting similar events and people to our lives. We can understand intellectually that a person or circumstance is not healthy for us but until the imprint is cleared from the luminous energy field it can be very difficult to step away from these recurring negative patterns and into a healthier lifestyle. The first step in the illumination process cleans the toxic emotional energy around an imprint. The second step removes the imprint and, most importantly, the affinity for a person to attract similar events to their lives.
Rites of Passage are the major transitions that all people pass through in life such as adulthood, marriage, parenthood, and sagehood. The shaman can assist by helping a client gently release an old role and step into a new one with power and grace.
Soul Retrieval is a technique by which the shaman journeys to retrieve parts of a client’s essential self (called a soul part) which may have fled due to a past trauma. The soul part is returned and re-integrated with the client. Also, during the soul retrieval the contracts or agreements that were made at the time of the soul loss and which no longer serve the individual can be re-written so they no longer negatively steer the person’s life.
The extraction process entails removing heavy energies that have become crystallized and embedded into the luminous energy field. An illumination is performed afterwards to ensure that similar energies are not drawn into the luminous energy field again.