Shamanism is the most ancient spiritual and healing practice known to man. In fact, shamanism and shamanic healing date back to over 100,000 years and have been practiced all across the globe — well before our current technologies of communication were possible. Shamanism organically arose all over the world, all throughout history, as a response to the needs of people. Shamanism is an ancient collection of traditions based on the act of voluntarily accessing and connecting to non-ordinary states — or spirit realms — for wisdom and healing. They heal by restoring and removing energetic pathways, recovering soul parts, and communicating with the spirit world to discover the spiritual aspects of illness and find answers to life’s seemingly impossible questions. This reality-penetrating ability marks them as the world’s very first doctors, storytellers, mystics, and even psychotherapists.
In the shamanic perspective, true healing — spiritual healing — cannot be done on a physical level. Healing means to return to wholeness, and returning to wholeness is purely an inside job. Spiritual healing addresses the root, the spiritual problems that cause dis-ease.
It is important to note that shamans believe that despite their great accessibility to the spirit realm, all healing is self-healing. A shamanic healer knows how to move and manipulate the energy of another’s body and can pass wisdom through from the spirit realm, but true healing must take place inside the spirit of the individual.
In other words, a person must be willing and ready to take full responsibility for his or her own healing. There is no magic pill that lies outside of one’s spiritual body. A shaman can be an outstanding tutor, but will not give all of the answers. It is also important to note that shamanic healing is not to be a substitute for conventional medical or psychological services, but is to instead be worked with adjunct to.
Albeit an ancient practice, an increasing number of people are currently turning to shamans to support their well-being. As shamanic healers exist in nearly all cultures, their exact customs may vary, but the essence of what they do remains the same. They act as a sort of “hollow bone,” or an intermediary, by merging with the spirit realm and connecting with helping spirits to channel energies and wisdom in order to aid in healing within individuals on this dimension.
The helping spirits of the shamans are able to diagnose the cause (since they are spirit, they can easily see all that is happening on the spiritual level) of an illness, give insight, and then help to facilitate the required treatment for healing. For that, during a shamanic healing ceremony, the shaman must go on a shamanic journey to retrieve this energy and information — that is the core of a healing session. As well, many shamans will perform a bit of energy work in order to integrate the effects of the journey, locate, and release blockages and increase the body’s ability to heal.
What happens in a shamanic healing session?
*Please keep in mind that, as this is a worldly practice, specific customs may vary. Every shaman is unique, but there are a few elements that generally remain the same.
Where they occur
A typical healing session can take place inside or outdoors, it is of the client’s preference; whichever way, the area must be quiet, safe, and relaxing. A “sacred space” is created. This space is dedicated to opening, releasing, and healing. Effects such as a candle display, incense or palo santo (holy wood) burning, an altar with crystals or special stones, soothing music, and a comfortable place to lie down on are usually included.
Open Conversation with Shaman
The first thing that will happen is an open discussion between the client and the shaman; for this, the shaman will hold a respectable, non-judgmental space. They may discuss the client’s history, and/or how their soul is feeling at the present moment. The shaman will inspire and encourage the client to dig deeper into their story and really open up as they both hunt for truth and healing potential.These conversations are usually effortless and productive, as the shaman is trained in fostering and nurturing that safe space, and the client is willing to be transparent in order to heal.
Next, they move into the ceremonial work. At this time, the client can lie on their back, wearing loose and comfortable clothing. The shaman will then assess their various energy centers (usually found along the 7 chakras of the body). At this point, the shaman can sense where unnecessary energy is being stored, where stagnant energy can be released, and where empowering energy can be placed.
When the energy work is complete, the shaman will then describe to the client what they may experience during the following part of the session: tingling and warming sensations, meditative-like states of consciousness, an emotional release, and/or the energy of the spiritual communion itself.
The shaman is then ready to access non-ordinary reality, and proceeds to induce a trance (theta brainwave state) via rhythmic percussion (generally using a drum and/or rattle).
Then, there are the shaman journeys…
Within this shamanic journey, the shaman connects with his or her spirit helpers/guides and travels through the 3 different worlds (as mentioned previously) in search of wisdom and healing for the client.
While in this non-physical trance, the shaman may also do either hands-on or hands-off energy work, by channeling energy from the spirit world and moving it throughout the client’s body accordingly.
This portion of the ceremony typically lasts about an hour.
Once the shaman has returned from their journey, they are again ready to hold space for discussion. Here, they will discuss with the client what was experienced (on both ends), what wisdom and advice was gifted to them from the spirit realm, and what the client can then begin implementing differently in their lives in order to heal.
Integration: an Essential Step
Following a shamanic healing session, many deeply rooted energies have been shifted. Therefore, for the days, weeks, and even months following the session, it is advised that clients take special note of how they are feeling — they can do this by keeping a journal to keep track of progress for future insight and guidance.
The client will normally feel changes and shifts in their energy, and need not fret, for this is all part of the healing process — toxins that have long been stored in one’s physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual body have been released, as well as unhealthy habitual thinking. It is the shaman’s greatest advice to listen to and accept the energetic changes one may feel following a session; any discomfort will pass and new, vibrant, life energy will take its place.
For the following months after a session, the shaman will frequently check in with the client to see how everything is enfolding for them and to offer any comfort and/or additional guidance that may be needed.